Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today’s Video: Turn on the News (Revisited)

Note: For the next few days our daily “Today’s Video” posts will examine the freedom of the press in several Latin American and Caribbean countries.

On Tuesday media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (or RSF based on its French initials) published their tenth annual press freedom index. Unfortunately the rankings decreased for most Latin American and Caribbean states including several countries whose position plummeted in 2011 compared to the previous year.

Chile nosedived by 47 spots and was ranked 80 out of 179 countries on the RSF index. Numerous factors accounted for such a sleep decline according to RSF:
In Chile, where student protesters questioned the over-concentration of media ownership, violence against journalists included beatings, cyber-attacks and attacks on editorial staffs. Many of these assaults, often accompanied by heavy-handed arrests and destruction of equipment, were carried out by abusive armed police who were rarely called to account.
Last week the Chilean government dropped their support of a controversial measure that would’ve permitted police to seize media images without a court order. Dubbed the “Hinzpeter Law” after the Chilean Interior Minister, the plan was decried by media groups and free speech advocates. Mauricio Weibel, president of Chilean Foreign Press Association, reportedly warned that the measure could damage Chile’s image and might be factored in to the RSF’s rankings.

In September 2011 we highlighted the case of an Argentine TV news crew who claimed unknown assailants while covering protests in Santiago attacked them. Less than a month after that, police arrested Chilevision journalist Luis Narváez after his cameraman was bumped into and possibly assaulted by an officer. As the following video shows, Narváez was detained seemingly for no reason despite him showing officers his press card and claiming his innocence:

Unfortunately Narváez wasn’t the only media member apparently targeted by the authorities while covering student protests in early October.

In our next "Today's Video" installment we’ll examine another South American state that plummeted in the latest RSF press freedom index.

Video Source – YouTube via hersome

Online Sources- Reporters Without Borders, IFEX, Washington Post, The Latin Americanist

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