Important topics for WJS3 in/from the Latin American and Caribbean Region
POLITICAL-ECONOMIC INFLUENCES AND TRENDS
Proletarianization of work, labor flexibility
Multiple jobs (multi-employment), low pay and by-the-piece or hourly contracts
Abrupt dismissals without unemployment insurance
Economic pressure from media companies and their owners
Oversupply of graduates in relation to the number of jobs (Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Uruguay)
Lack of educational standards
“Boom” of digital media with professional and amateur focus; rise of “pseudo-journalists”; perceptions of what distinguishes a ‘journalist’
Autonomy / Dependence of journalism on the political-economic system
Populism of the left and right, and its effects
Coercion of journalists
Clientelistic relations with the state (some prefer to call this corruption)
Official versus private advertisement (contracts, newsletters, special supplements) as clientelistic tools
Journalists as political agents or spies for particular interests (criminals, politicians, others)
Journalists who work as private advisers/consultants or in governmental communication offices
Effects of new government media laws and regulations on media organizations and journalists
Political polarization and its perceived affects on journalists and journalism
Societal identification of journalists with a group/political ideology (public agents)
Lack of trust in journalism, journalists
Post-truth and disbelief of facts
Journalists’ perceptions of their societal roles and on how they believe society views their work
Creation of new state media – educational and/or political
Politicians and other political actors who own media
Media ownership typology (suggestion – private, public, non-profit, governmental/state, community ownership)
Journalism in popular press, tabloids
Journalism in community media
Digital startups with non-traditional financing or that are non-profit, and which exhibit greater autonomy from commercial and state interests. There are several new investigative outlets following this model in most large countries.
SPACIAL PERSPECTIVE AND TERRITORIAL PHENOMENA WITHIN COUNTRIES
Zones of silence: local and total (Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Mexico)
Resource centralization in capitals or/and major cities
Different possibilities of training and professional education
Risks: important differences in types and intensities.
Varying levels of threat and insecurity – Responsibility of regional and local authorities.
Journalist refugees/exiles in other countries/diasporas of journalists
Countries that receive refugee journalists (Costa Rica, Colombia, US, etc.)
SAFETY AND RESPONSES TO RISK AND INSECURITY
Types of attacks, aggressions against journalists.
Journalist responses to threat, intimidation and assault
Journalist vulnerability in rural areas and outside big cities
Gender differences in attacks
Attacks on morals and reputation through online sources, smear campaigns
Attacks/aggressions outside and inside newsrooms
Safety and digital security
Digital espionage by police and other governmental agencies, groups outside the law (narco- traffic, mafia) and the same journalists (Argentina, Mexico)
Perceptions of occupational risks
Perceptions of government capacity and willingness to protect journalists
Sources of aggression – political, criminal, police, civil society/union, managers/supervisors, colleagues, etc.
PERCEPTIONS OF THE AUDIENCE AND REPRESENTATIONS IN JOURNALISM
Who do journalists perceived as their audience
Representations of violence in journalism
Representations of women, gender and minorities (ethnic, racial, religious, gender, etc.) in journalism
Key traits and trends in journalism and journalism studies, by country
Multi-employment: combine journalist work with other related communication work (institutional, public relations, organizational, etc.)Instrumentalization of journalists by political figures (high level of parallelism between journalism and the government).Aggressions and disqualifications of journalists in protests, on the street and social networks.Loss of freedom of the press: limits on questioning by the press.Great difficulty to carry out representative samples in the investigation (there are no official records on media outlets or journalists)Lack of professionalization (uncertainty and precariousness)Political and journalistic polarization.Passive journalism about political powers (capture of professional activities)Dependency on information from government press offices.Governmental financing and advertising contracts condition work.Aggressions on social networks from officials and party militants.
High presence of indigenous population, racial tensions and community media.Political and social polarization emphasized in the last years, accentuated even between regions (East vs. West).Marked confrontation between the government and privately owned media.Lack of transparency and access to public information.Governmental discourse and other mechanisms attempt to moderate/control journalistic work (public disqualification of journalistic discourse, labeling journalists as political opposition)Generating norms and regulations about communication media and other aspects affecting work of media, including a threat to regulate social networks.Control of media discourse through the assignment -or not- of official advertising.Establishment and consolidation of a network of state and parastate media.New technologies in journalistic practice are changing the professional profiles of journalists.Precariousness of labor and media business models, and uncertainty about the uses and reach of technology for journalism.Capture of community journalism in the state media network.Information available to construct the sociodemographic profile of the Bolivian journalist is disperse, unofficial and scarce.
Lack of official data and statistics on Brazilian journalists: quantity and sociodemographic profiles.Precariousness in work environment and conditions (technology and economic). The situation that has led to the emergence and development of independent communication outlets, offering these as a response to the hegemony of the major media groups of the country.Risks for the journalists present in the different regions of the country: threats, aggressions, assassinations (lack of available information about these). Profiles of the journalists that work in the Brazilian media newsrooms currently: anyone can be a journalist, without the need for credentialing and/or university specializations. Lack of definition and challenges in forming journalists in higher education due to the lack of requirement for credentialing since 2009. Encroachment on journalism professionalism and learning on-the-job journalists have increased in last years.Lack of information regarding: What do journalists read? How does lack of reading affect journalistic work? Understanding the “why” of the low quality of journalistic work and the lack of indexes that certify the media consumption of journalists in a general level. Who do journalists work for?Shadowy zones and information blackouts in the North and Northeast of the country, because of the lack of access to communication media.Technological gap (larger in rural areas).Structural conditions that result in division of the national territory into various “countries” (i.e. strong regionalism). This situation leads communication media to organize themselves by regions.Little official information about journalists (number, profile, situation, etc.), which makes studying them more difficult.Journalists are not affiliated in associations or unionized.
A (neo)liberal and commercial media system.Imbalanced property structure: media are mainly privately owned.Only one national chain exists (board management system).Tendencies in journalism: Crisis in television industry due to migration of advertising; labor precariousness; great quantity of journalism schools that have unbalanced supply and demand of the labor market (800 new journalists per year); journalists with little professional experience.Concentrated ownership of the large media outlets (TV, radio, print), which supports ideological hegemony of a Northern perspectiveRisks: Communication media do not reflect full political range in the country (only on isolated events); marked ethnic conflict in the south of the country (Mapuche) is reflected in media coverage, community media and pressure on local journalists; there is no physical, latent violence, but rather institutional pressure; high levels of professional precariousness.There is no credentialing requirement for journalists to exercise their profession. However, most have higher degree specializations.Journalism students do not want to dedicate themselves to journalism in traditional media, being inclined towards public relations and other commercial communication options.Difficulties knowing the number of journalism and communication media in the country.
Sociodemographic and professional profile of the Colombian journalist:Labor and salary precariousness due to certain regions of the country not having contractual labor rights, with journalist pay coming from sales of advertising contracts.A business model that allows for public opinion manipulation, especially in rural areas. Likewise, it does not allow journalists to have professional security or stability.Perceptions of journalistic roles and influences on newsrooms:Commercial business modelHigh political and economic influences on journalism.High risk to the autonomy of the journalists in the context of post-truth politics and peace agreement implementation in Colombia: 317 social organization leaders were assassinated in the last 15 months. Assassinations of journalists that cover themes related to the diversification of new groups acting in the sphere of Colombian drug trafficking.State failure in protecting journalists and impunity or little advance in investigating journalistic threats or assassinations.Large zones in the country without local information due to lack of local media (40% of rural and peripheral areas). This reality leads them to depend on the information from national media and creates a situation that leads to lack of knowledge about local reality.High levels of self-censorship of journalists allowing them to avoid problems and stay below the line of major risk.Interests of the large economic conglomerates. One of the main examples is Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, owner of El Tiempo, the main newspaper of the country.Manipulation of information that affects the main political and economic powers.Professional gap inside the “Global South” stemming from “Micro-Souths”; especially in rural areas. (Note: high variation in professionalism across territories, especially in rural areas)The peace process faced serious opposition from diverse interests in the political elite and economic groups who historically benefited from war. The journalists who cover themes related to the peace process face many difficulties and restrictions because many times the businessmen involved also tend to be the media owners (Restrictions related to the coverage of the peace theme broadly are also found in official coverage guidelines).
Journalists have problems accessing official information.Imbalances exist between journalists’ levels of professionalism.The role and function of journalists/journalism in Costa Rica is determined by violence and risks in the environment.Economic pressure, especially due to the reduction of advertisement in the traditional communication media, incentivize precarious labor conditions of journalists.Concentration of media ownership.Importance of the «colonial» factor of the country for the development of the media market and the country: 3.2 million Costa Ricans live in the country, more than 5 million outside.High level of religious influence on TV: Catholic and non-denominational churches
A predominantly Party-State media system with high level of political dependency.Communications media of mainly state and social property ownership that have been diversifying as a result of the slow development of internet access.Media operations are also conditioned by a strong national security culture due to the US government’s systematic aggression and blockade policy.Currently communication media and journalists that work within the legally permitted state media property regime, which is limited by extra-journalistic norms and regulations, coexist with others who are working illegally due to their association with oppositional political groups with financing or strong association with the US government, or with others who are «a-legal» and are «permitted» (tolerated) by the Cuban government.The journalistic community has developed a civic culture and public service vocation based upon the historic tradition of national journalism, the general values of society instituted by the political process of the Cuban Revolution and the quality of university education. Journalistic labor conditions in the state sector are precarious due to the low salaries of the public sector and limitations in access to information; this results in migration towards other professional and productive sectors or outside of the country.The journalists who work in the “illegal” media have better salary conditions but not labor guarantees, counting on greater access to media and global networks that is, however, monitored by the State.The citizenry, which has a high average level of education, exhibits a trend toward diversification in information and entertainment consumption through informal content distribution networks.
Salvadoran and Guatemalan journalists’ socio-democraphic: the majority of the journalists are mestizo men, with women and other minority ethnicities much less frequently found in journalism.The sustainability of the news media and of journalists is in danger due to the large influence of individual interests (political and economic) and the increase of labor precariousness.The introduction of new technologies in journalism, especially the internet, is causing debate on the digitalization of journalism as well as experimentation with different business models.There are great examples of digital media in these countries that act as references and leaders in the Latin American region: (El Faro in El Salvador and Plaza Pública in Guatemala).A new type of relationship between digital journalists and those who work in traditional/massive private media affects the reputation of emerging media, and thus audience trust.Close relationship between communication/journalistic media and politicians/government: large parallelism. Furthermore, the growing conflict between the independent media and the government; the governments are using social media to criticize them.Journalists need guidance about how to use social networks to prevent risks that come with their use, as well as better understanding of how to use the opportunities networks offer, and not just use them at a basic and/or user level.Protests, conflicts and security are the main coverage topics in the media: Maras (gangs) and public security. Differences exist between journalists in urban and rural areas in coverage topics, use of digital tools, level of security, etc.Community media play relevant roles, but there is a lack of respect towards them (lack of support, poor legal and legislative protection, etc.)
Journalists have partly converted themselves into a new «middle class» due to their increased salary. However, the average salary remains between 400 and 800 US dollars per month.A gap in professionalism exists between urban and provincial areas.Low capacity for media sector self-regulation exists due to external political and economic pressures.The media property regime is most privately owned (94%).Newsrooms are organized vertically (top-down) with strong social hierarchies.Editorial lines are polarized in favor or opposition to the policies of the Ecuadorian government (during Rafael Correa’s time).Low levels of journalistic professionalization despite government proposals to improve education offers since 2014 (CORDICOM). Media operate within a hybrid democratic system.New Organic Communication Law approved in 2013 has lead to the creation of a public media body, legalization of community media, inclusion of less favored groups, and the regulation of media content.Strong state intervention in topics related to communication and journalism.State paternalism toward favorable media outletsTension between neoliberal and socialist «citizenship revolution» politics.Strengthening of the role of higher education (university). Requirement for all journalists to have a higher education degree in journalism to practice the profession (educational credentials vs. learn on-the-job).Social instability.High levels of individualism.Technological access gaps affect the development of digital communication media (platforms) and the technical capacities of journalists.
Mexico is a country with 125 million people, higher levels of economic development in the center and north of the country, criminal organizations of varying strengths across different territories, stronger although still uneven federal mechanisms of accountability, and differing regional histories including differing histories of local journalism and its relationship with political power. The country also went through a long process of political liberalization that ended a 71-year single party rule at the presidential level beginning with elections of the opposition in large cities, then state governorships and finally with peaceful alternation in presidential power following elections in 2000. During this period some print news media became more critical, although the sustainability of such independence proved fragile. Because of the variations and histories above, an important trait is there are large variations in the following characteristics of journalism across regions, states and city sizesInstitutional consolidation and performance, the rule of law, social and political counterweights to power, and accountability vary across territories.Economic differences in news media markets and local audiences exist, as well as in news media offerings, such as between the political center of the country and outlying areas.Support for threatened or pressured journalists from civil society given different levels of credibility, legitimacy, and trust in journalism varies across states. Blaming journalists for the threats or aggressions they suffer (criminalization) also varies by state where the journalist works.Violence against journalists via disparagement, intimidation, threats, physical aggressions, and assassinations vary territorially. As a country Mexico is the most deadly for journalists in the Americas and one of the most in the world (domestic NGO tally is 150 journalists assassinated since 2000).There are differences in resources available to journalists for professionalization.Everywhere there is increasing labor precariousness in journalism although journalists are most vulnerable outside of the national capital, and in smaller cities and rural areas.Journalists differently engage in practices and strategies of self-care and coping with stress stemming form risk and violence. Small groups of journalists engage in contextually varying strategies to cope with systems of aggression and threats since government support is weak or not trusted.Press-government and press-society relationships are shaped by political- social-economic polarization and a strengthening popular epistemology of post-truth. This last phenomenon is producing aggressive new political discourse against journalists. 10. Coercive uses of government advertising and clientelism are strategies to control the press in Mexico, especially but not only at the state and local level.
Similar problems as the other countriesAccessible official registries on media and journalists in the country don’t existClear professional gap between urban and rural areasRuralized country with indigenous language (guaraní).Development of less professional and more alternative media.Solid community media, but are very persecuted.Rural areas without local media development (local information deficit). Media are concentrated around the capital of Asunción.Triple border region creates danger for journalists.High levels of media ownership concentration.A current government minister is the owner of the largest media company of the country.Journalists without required education or credentials.Constant aggressions and threats to journalists.The reality of journalism in the country has not been investigated in a social scientific/ academic level
Dispersion of the official records on the number of journalists. There are no official data on characteristics of communication media and journalists.Multi-employment, combination of journalistic work with other activities inside media agencies and private companies. This leads to conflicts of interest.Sexual harassment of journalists (and public exposure of such), no protection or guarantees from the State.The Peruvian communication system is private and neoliberal in majority.Centralized studies do not include regional media.Few studies of the journalistic profession exist. The majority are historiographic studies.There are several trade associations (3 or 4, at most).Violence is invisible in the national media. Violence occurs in provinces because journalists there face narco-trafficking, human trafficking, illegal timber harvesting, local corruption, etc.In urban zones, the “violence” is on legal level harassment which is confronted by journalists as individuals because their media outlets offer little protection.Intention to prohibit governmental advertising in the media (a strategy that affects the public and the economic sustainability of small media and those in the interior of the country).
Committees for the regional network in LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBEEN