Learning to Live with a Free Press

American Journalism Review, January-February 1995 | Go to article overview

Learning to Live with a Free Press


Guillermo Ignacio, a newspaper editor from a coastal city 300 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, worries that press freedom can be fleeting.

His newspaper, Ecos Diarios in Necochea, was founded by his grandfather in 1921. Ecos Diarios operated under authoritarian governments for many years until 1983, when democracy and press freedom were restored.

"We shouldn't fall in love with this very broad freedom of the press and become blind about it. We should be permanently on the alert," he told fellow Argentine journalists and Freedom Forum trustees at a roundtable in Buenos Aires.

Argentina was one of five countries visited in November by a Freedom Forum delegation organized to study the media in Latin America.

In three of the countries -- Argentina, Brazil and Chile -- the memory of military rule is still fresh. In Venezuela, democracy took hold in 1959, but two military coup attempts in 1992 have made the press nervous. Only in Costa Rica, which abolished its military in 1949, have democracy and a free press been institutionalized.

The movement toward democracy in Latin America has not been as dramatic as has been the emergence of democracies in the former Soviet Union and the East Bloc after the fall of communism. But in all of Latin America, 34 of the 35 countries are functional democracies with elected presidents and congresses. Only Cuba remains a dictatorship.

To learn about the media and their mostly thriving markets, Freedom Forum trustees met with journalists, government officials and U.S. embassy personnel. An overview of the findings appears in the reports that follow.

Argentina

While free and financially strong, the media must contend with some legacies from authoritarian rule, mainly the threat of restrictive press laws and continued intimidation of journalists.

Among laws under consideration is one that would double the prison time to six years for a libel conviction.

"This is something that directly targets journalism and tries to intimidate journalists," said Roberto Guareschi, editor of Clarin, a 600,000-circulation Buenos Aires daily and the world's biggest Spanish-language newspaper.

Among other legal threats are:

* A "right of reply" amendment to the constitution. The right of reply would require a newspaper to publish a response from anyone who felt aggrieved by the newspaper.

* Proposed Senate rules that would allow a congressman to arrest and hold for 10 days a journalist who writes or broadcasts something the congressman deems offensive.

* A Senate-imposed code of ethics for journalists.

Argentina is an authoritarian society, said Andrew Graham-Yooll, editor of Argentina's only English-language newspaper, the Buenos Aires Herald. "We are still threatened as journalists by the arrogance of power."

Combative relationship

Despite what seems like a hostile environment, the media have a cordial, if combative, relationship with the government. Access to information, for instance, is open.

But sometimes the combat is physical. Intimidation of journalists, even violence against them, is a vivid part of Argentina's journalism history. Argentine President Carlos Saul Menem questioned whether intimidation continues, but said it is almost certainly not as frequent as it may have been.

The Buenos Aires Herald reported that two journalists were attacked and injured, and other journalists detained by police, late in 1994 while covering a privatization story. "Clearly press liberties in Argentina are not what the government led The Freedom Forum visitors to believe a few days ago," the Herald editorialized.

Television is going through a greater transition to freedom than other media because it was owned by the state before Menem took office in 1989, Argentina's best-known newswoman, Monica Cahen-D'Anvers, said. Under state ownership, an occasional phone call kept television in line, she said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Learning to Live with a Free Press
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.