Argentine organization demands political leaders stop stigmatizing reporters

By Samantha Badgen

After an incident on April 10 where political and union leaders in Argentina verbally attacked Marina Hermoso, a reporter from CN23, the Forum for Argentine Journalism (FOPEA) published a press release demanding an end to the stigmatization of reporters for doing their jobs.

According to the press release, the leader of a local workers' union accused Hermoso of having made inquiries on behalf of the owners of CN23 when she asked him something he didn’t like during an interview.

“This represents a deplorable and aggravating attitude toward any journalist that is just looking to do their job,” the press release said, adding that it’s not the first time that an influential public figure verbally attacks a reporter.

FOPEA also highlighted verbal attacks regularly made against journalists during press conferences by union members, who clap and celebrate every interruption and insult made against members of the press when they asked inconvenient questions to union leaders.

“In more than once occasion, FOPEA has demanded that press conferences with union leaders of different sectors take place without their 'hinchada' (Argentine slang for groups of soccer fans), allowing journalists to ask their questions with freedom and without pressure from those who… don’t have anything to do with journalists’ job of informing the public,” FOPEA said.

In the last few years, various representatives of all sectors and ideologies have taken part in this practice, among them former president Nestor Kirchner against journalists from Clarín and Radio Continental; the representative and leader of the Frente Renovador party, Sergio Massa, against a journalist from CN23; and Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri against a journalist from Radio del Plata.

Other similar incidents have involved Argentine vice-president, Amado Bodou who – during his years as minister of Economy – accused journalists from Clarín and La Nación of being like the people who “cleaned the gas chambers” in nazi concentration camps, and the former secretary of Commerce, Guillermo Moreno, who insulted Clarín journalists, saying they “had their hands stained with blood” and were “almost accomplices of the dictatorship.”

In the press release, FOPEA said that these types of aggressions have been repeated in several provinces in the country, and sometimes they even forbid access to certain journalists from news media dubbed “critical” while letting those from media dubbed as “friendly” are allowed in.

“It serves to remember that a lot of these stigmatizations have led to violent consequences for journalists from various media. From public denouncements to physical assaults in marches or protests. And that is the responsibility of those who, in use of power or representation, don’t measure their words in involving journalists in their verbal attacks.”

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.