FOPEA awards announced in Argentina as censorship of press continues

Por Christina Noriega

Video of FOPEA awards ceremony.

The Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA) has announced the launch of an annual series of prizes for investigative journalism in Argentina amidst what the organization has described as an “unbearable climate of threats, persecutions, and poor working conditions weighing on the profession.”

At the Ninth Annual Journalism Congress, held by FOPEA on Nov. 9, President Fabio Ladetto announced the winners of the first FOPEA prizes for investigative journalism, divided into four categories: national print and digital reporting, local print and digital reporting, audiovisual journalism, and student journalism.

The list of winners included Matias Longoni, who works with Argentine newspaper Clarín, in the national print and digital reporting category, Isabel Carrera of the digital magazine Antena Misiones in the local print and digital reporting category, the news team of the television program Periodismo Para Todos (Journalism for Everyone) in the audiovisual journalism category, and in the student category, the winner was Rita Lucca of the University of Belgrano.

The journalism association FOPEA has for more than 10 years offered reports, studies, and alerts on freedom of expression and standards pf journalism in Argentina. And now, with the sponsorship of the health insurance group Swiss Medical, the organization has launched a 10-year series of prizes intended to promote journalistic endeavors that create “greater public transparency.”

In a statement, FOPEA said these awards would look to cut back on what they consider questionable journalistic practices, such as plagiarism from press releases, one-source news articles, and content that is published without fact checking. At the Congress where the prizes were announced, Ladetto took the opportunity to speak about the overlapping challenges facing journalists in Argentina.

“Journalists suffer physical and psychological harassment from those who want to silence them,” said Ladetto. "Now they have to face law suits and judicial trials as well. We are seeing an increasing number of censorship and self-censorship cases.”

According to a 2013 Freedom House report, limited access by the private media to presidential press conferences, nonexistent federal freedom of information laws, and restrictive national advertisement guidelines have had the effect of stifling the practice of journalism in Argentina.

Additionally, auto-censorship of the press and the harassment of media workers continue to be top concerns for Argentine journalists, according to a 2014 FOPEA-sponsored study.

Ladetto said that despite the current challenges, he believed that investigative journalism had a future in Argentina.

“The winning journalists are proof that investigative journalism is alive, resisting and growing,” Ladetto said.

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.