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Gabriela Cañas backed by parliament to become EFE’s first female president

Madrid, May 4 (efe-epa).- Gabriela Cañas obtained the backing of Spain’s parliament on Monday to become the new head of the EFE news agency.

During the session, Cañas promised to reinforce the international dimension of the Spanish news agency and increase its multimedia projects.

Cañas appeared before the Constitutional Commission of the Parliament, a process that had initially been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic when the government first proposed her candidacy in mid-February following the dismissal of Fernando Garea.

The new head of EFE, the first woman to take the post in the 81-year history of the agency, was backed by 30 lawmakers, opposed by five (from the far-right Vox party) and was met with two abstentions.

Cañas promised “austere management and strict control of expenses” within the company, which obtains state financing together with income from the sale of its services across the world.

“The agency is itself a story of success and it would be arrogant and reckless to undertake profound changes that could put its brilliant path at risk,” she said.

EFE, the fourth-largest international agency in the world and the leading outlet in the Spanish language, “competes with giants” such as Reuters, AP and AFP.

The latter receives 111 million euros a year in public funds, Cañas said — “double” of the total amount provided to EFE.

The company is working on a strategic development plan which, according to Cañas, will be its “road map” for the future.

Among the news agency’s weaknesses, Cañas highlighted the need to diversify its sources of income to become less dependent on state funding.

“EFE offers high-quality information, but it must adapt to the new formats the market demands; technology must be at the service of good raw material,” she added.

The new president said she didn’t want to reduce the current number of employees, a total of 1,047 — over 400 deployed in 45 offices around the world — because “it is was a short-staffed workforce.”

Cañas, a journalist with 40 years of experience, also defended the average age of EFE’s employees, which is above 50, since it means “expertise with important adaptive capacities.”

Before becoming the new head of EFE, Cañas was the deputy director of the School of Journalism of El País, the most circulated daily newspaper in Spain.

Previously, she worked as a correspondent in Brussels and Paris and, between 2006-2008, she led the International News department during the socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

After being criticized for her alleged affinity with the Socialist Party and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Cañas pointed out that EFE and the Spanish press always do their job despite pressure from the government, companies and political parties.

Ideology “can never be the reason to reject someone for a position.”

“I have my press card,” she added.

Several deputies mentioned alleged government pressure denounced by her predecessor Fernando Garea when he was removed from the position.

Cañas insisted: “resisting pressure is part of our ecosystem (…). We have enough expertise and experience in that.” EFE-EPA

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