Academic journal article Journalism History

Centuries of Silence: The Story of Latin American Journalism

Academic journal article Journalism History

Centuries of Silence: The Story of Latin American Journalism

Article excerpt

Ferreira, Leonardo. Centuries of Silence: The Story of Latin American Journalism. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006. 332 pp. $29.95.

In Centuries of Silence: The Story of Latin American Journalism, Leonardo Ferreira argues that the story of Latin American journalism starts with pre-Columbian codices, not with the arrival of the first printing press in the New World in 1535 in New Spain. He calls upon scholars to consider the Maya and Aztec codices as early forms of media and contends that these texts should be as much a part of the domain of media researchers as anthropologists.

For Ferreira, associate dean and director of graduate studies at the University of Miami, the past five centuries of media history in Latin America (including the Caribbean) have been marred by incessant violence, repression, and censorship. This pattern, which began with the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan rulers, who used "media" as a way to legitimate their power, continues into the twenty-first-century narcopoliticos in Colombia and beyond, who censor journalists in much the same fashion as their pre-Columbian predecessors.

The history of journalism, for Ferreira, is like the proverbial glass that remains half empty, despite attempts to create free press laws in Latin America during the early national period. Liberators such as Simón Bolivar, Francisco Miranda, and José Marti fought for a free and independent press, but their efforts were trampled by the dictators and oligarchs of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a result, voices of the poor, disenfranchised, indigenous peoples, and women have been silenced by dominant, white male and elite perspectives.

Ferreira links technological developments, including transportation networks such as the railroad, to the relative success or failure of the news media. Yet, despite the technological advances of the twentieth century such as television, he argues, "Eventually, the technological impact of television resulted in damaging the perception of cultural inferiority, mental dependency, social inequality, political manipulation, misinformation, alienation, lack of access, distortion of values, and polarized conflicts, among others." This rather pessimistic assessment of the past does not tell the whole story of the region. Videotape and later online media and other less expensive video production equipment have allowed nonelite and oppositional groups to contribute to the media landscape. Websites such as EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) certainly cannot compete with the infrastructure of Televisa (Mexico's largest commercial network), but the failure to recognize contributions like these silences the very individuals that the author seeks to defend. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.