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Argentina


Argentine journalism's credibility on the line

AP
In the pitched battle between Cristina Kirchner's administration and critical media outlets such as those owned by Grupo Clarín, right, the very credibility of journalism is at stake. Argentine citizens are deprived of objective sources of information on vital issues, a CPJ special report finds.
En Español

Calls for journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility are very often code for censorship. Yet unethical journalism can also imperil the press. By Jean-Paul Marthoz

The News of the World scandal, in which the British Sunday tabloid hacked voicemails of celebrities and ordinary citizens, led to a divisive debate on how to regulate the media in the U.K. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

The long-running feud between the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and critical news outlets deepened. The Supreme Court ruled that provisions of a 2009 broadcast law that would require some media companies, most notably the critical media conglomerate Grupo Clarín, to divest holdings—in theory, to break up monopolies—were constitutional. Beyond the legislation, the climate remained polarized, with officials publicly berating Clarín and other media groups, and those outlets criticizing all administration activities. The government continued with its policy of punishing critical media outlets and rewarding favorable ones with official advertising, and appeared to extend its advertising war to the commercial realm by reportedly forbidding supermarkets to advertise in newspapers as part of a price-freezing measure intended to combat inflation. Critical media alleged the tactic was meant to further harm outlets that don't receive state advertising, a claim the government denied. President Kirchner, after 10 years of dominating Argentine politics along with her husband, the late President Néstor Kirchner, faced challenges to her government in late 2013. The president's party suffered significant defeats in congressional elections, judicial reforms failed, corruption allegations surfaced in the administration, and the president suffered health problems. Press freedom advocates were dismayed by a ruling on an Argentine defamation case by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights—part of the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States—that decided for the first time that a criminal sanction for defamation did not affect freedom of expression.

New York, December 18, 2013--Argentine authorities should immediately release a journalist who has been detained for more than a week and accused of sedition, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

For more than a decade, courts and legislatures throughout Latin America have found that civil remedies provide adequate redress in cases of libel and slander. Over this period, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights -- an autonomous judicial institution, which is part of the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States (OAS) -- has issued key decisions supporting press freedom, including a 2004 landmark ruling that struck down a criminal defamation conviction of a Costa Rican journalist.

Dear OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs: Ahead of the assembly of the Organization of American States on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges you to oppose any attempts to debilitate the regional human rights system. The failure of member states to preserve the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its special rapporteur on freedom of expression would make citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to human rights violations and represent a blow to democracy in the Americas.

Disputes between Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government and top media outlets intensified. Despite a Supreme Court ruling that ordered equitable distribution of state advertising, Kirchner’s government continued to withhold government ads from outlets critical of her administration, while lavishing business on those that provided favorable coverage, a CPJ special report found. Both the justice department and a federal appeals court fined the executive branch for ignoring the ruling, but the government showed no intention of complying. The administration also continued its practice of attacking and insulting journalists and executives associated with the country’s two principal media companies, Clarín and La Nación, sometimes using smear campaigns on public television shows. Those media groups, in turn, relentlessly criticized the government. The result was a highly polarized climate, with outlets devoting considerable coverage to discrediting one another, and citizens being deprived of objective sources of information on vital issues of public interest.

A newspaper stand displays Argentina's largest newspaper, Clarín. President Kirchner's government has given Clarín a December 7 deadline to sell off some of its holdings. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

The debut of the HD version of Grupo Clarín's cable news station TN could not have come at a worse time for the Argentine media conglomerate. Conspicuously missing from Monday's premiere was coverage of a new criminal complaint in which Clarín's lawyers accused the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of inciting violence against the media group. In what the company now acknowledges was a misstep, the complaint named six pro-government journalists. 

In the pitched battle between Cristina Kirchner’s administration and critical media outlets such as those owned by Grupo Clarín, the very credibility of journalism is at stake. Argentine citizens are deprived of objective sources of information on vital political and economic issues. A CPJ special report by Sara Rafsky

Newspapers including Clarín annouce the election of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires on Oct. 29, 2007. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

New York, August 21, 2012--Authorities in Argentina must immediately investigate violent attacks on two local journalists and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The unrelated attacks occurred within the space of a week. 

New York, May 30, 2012--Authorities in Argentina must immediately investigate death threats made against a local radio journalist and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

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Killed in Argentina

2 journalists killed since 1992

2 journalists murdered

1 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

47 Government ads in Clarín-owned outlets; thousands in pro-government outlets in seven months.

Country data, analysis »

Critics Are Not Criminals: Campaign Against the Criminalization of Speech
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