Center for International Media Assistance: Confronting the News – The State of Independent Media in Latin America

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A report by the Center for International Media Assistance and the National Endowment for Democracy on the state of independent media in Latin America. Conducted via interviews and in cooperation with a variety of press freedom watchdogs, the report illustrates the severity of deterioration of press freedoms in Latin America.

The report warns of reduced press freedom in the countries of the “Bolivarian Revolution,” namely Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, where governments have carried out sustained “verbal and physical assaults” on independent media. However, Colombia has seen an improvement in the treatment of the press.

An excerpt from the preface:

Freedom of expression and of the press in much of Latin America are under sustained attack by numerous authoritarian governments in the region, as well as non-state armed actors such as drug trafficking organizations and paramilitary groups. These attacks have made Latin America one of the most dangerous places in the world in which to be a journalist. Overall, the region, with the exception of the Caribbean, has suffered an almost uninterrupted deterioration of press freedoms over the past five years, reaching its lowest point since the military dictatorships of the 1980s.

[…]

There are some bright spots in an overall bleak situation. Colombia, with the inauguration of President Juan Manuel Santos in August 2010, has marked a notable improvement in the relations between the media and the government. The abuses of the past, including widespread wiretapping campaigns and intimidation by security forces, have been reined in, and the public assaults on the media and individual reporters have stopped.

[…]

But overall, the ability of the media to carry out its functions of accountability, investigation, and the dissemination of a broad range of ideas has been reduced — more so than at any time since the end of the military dictatorships in the region in the 1980s.

Find the complete report here (pdf).

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