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Can there be non-"militant" journalism in Argentina (or anywhere)?

In the midst of a tense relationship between President Cristina Fernández and the country’s media, the concept of “militant journalism” is a constant theme of debate in Argentina. El Diario 24 columnist Adrián Carlos Corbella wonders whether there is journalism that escapes this label and questions the demonization of “militant” – i.e. openly ideological – journalists by those who self-identify as “independent.”

“The most powerful media outlets not only defend a political position, but sometimes they become its axis, under the umbrella of an alliance or political force, a fact that 21st century Argentines have seen in the position as ‘leader of the opposition’ against Kirchnerism that the Clarín media group has taken,” Corbella writes. “When this happens, journalists at these media outlets are forced to “wear the company uniform” or step aside and find another job.”

It is precisely such pressures from media executives on Argentine journalists to toe the company line that inspired the Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA) to release a draft “conscience clause” to give legal protection to a journalist’s independence and moral integrity.

In this context, Corbella concludes that “all journalists are militant. All defend political and ideological positions. The only difference is that some defend opinions that are their own, based on personal conviction. And they always defend them…Others, however, are more malleable and defend positions backed by others.”

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.

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