Review of "Letter From Lima" Power


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Review of "Letter From Lima" Power

  1. 1. Letter From Lima: Have Peru’s Press Heroes Gone Too Far? By Jason Felch 28 July 2004 in Columbia Journalism Review (Accessed 13 August 2004: ) Review by Keri Algar
  2. 2. Things to consider <ul><li>Role of journalist </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists’ ability to win public consent </li></ul><ul><li>Should journalists adapt their approach when reporting on different governments? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Fujimori 1990-2000 <ul><li>Controversial figure </li></ul><ul><li>Credited with uprooting terrorism and stabilising economy </li></ul><ul><li>Charged with human rights violations and authoritarianism </li></ul><ul><li>Widespread corruption under security advisor Vladimiro Montesinos </li></ul>
  4. 4. Media Corruption under Montesinos <ul><li>Insidious editorial control </li></ul><ul><li>Primary buyer of TV advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Fingers in 95% of TV pies </li></ul><ul><li>Powerful influence in the prensa chicha , servicing the masses </li></ul>
  5. 5. Pockets of resistance <ul><li>Investigative journalism instrumental in bringing down regime </li></ul><ul><li>Gustavo Gorriti’s battle with Montesinos began in 1983 – exile </li></ul><ul><li>Cecilia Valenzuela’s relentless pursuit to uncover government corruption (death squad of 1993) – threats </li></ul><ul><li>Channel 2’s expose on inflated incomes – deportation </li></ul>
  6. 6. The end of the game <ul><li>Journalists’ tenacity credited </li></ul><ul><li>2000 Valenzuela’s report reveals Montesino as mastermind of arms trafficking deal </li></ul><ul><li>Three weeks later Channel N airs the first of the Vladi-videos </li></ul><ul><li>Fujimori and Montesinos flee from Peru </li></ul>
  7. 7. So far so good <ul><li>This is a good example of the media’s role as a public watchdog uncovering the truth </li></ul><ul><li>Western notion of journalism as fourth estate (sharp and critical eye on government) </li></ul><ul><li>But what happens in Peru post dictatorship… </li></ul>
  8. 8. Vladi-videos – dramatic impact <ul><li>Videos Describe Montesino’s governance by espionage </li></ul><ul><li>Channel N’s airing of Montesino’s corruption is the first of many </li></ul><ul><li>Peru’s public shocked at the level of insidious government corruption </li></ul><ul><li>Public grapples to trust any governance </li></ul><ul><li>Vladi-videos leave Peru obsessed with surveillance and in a climate of accusation </li></ul>
  9. 9. Emergence of “serious sensationalism” <ul><li>Sensationalism masked as investigative journalism “serious sensationalism” </li></ul><ul><li>Serious tabloids popular with public across the board </li></ul><ul><li>Correo </li></ul>
  10. 10. Accusatory frame of mind – denunciations tend towards the petty <ul><li>Valenzuela’s using of wire taps to further investigations (not so) </li></ul><ul><li>Head of cabinet resigns after being accused of homosexuality </li></ul><ul><li>Vice President resigns after published photos of himself with a young girlfriend (allegedly father got tax kick backs) </li></ul><ul><li>Head of Intelligence Agency is seventh to resign in two and a half years, after alleged $7million land sale fraud </li></ul>
  11. 11. A tenderfoot democracy <ul><li>Toledo’s governing inept – major criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Toledo’s approval rating in single digits (8%) </li></ul><ul><li>His sixth cabinet in 32 months in office in danger of collapse </li></ul><ul><li>Taxi driver “We need a strong hand in power” </li></ul><ul><li>UN study – 54% of Latin Americans prefer authoritarian regime if it improved economy situation </li></ul>
  12. 12. So, Have Peru’s Press Heroes Gone Too Far? <ul><li>The impact of journalism on public opinion is apparent </li></ul><ul><li>Journalism can win public consent as well as depose governments </li></ul><ul><li>Are journalists trivialising investigative work? </li></ul><ul><li>Are journalists creating the perception that Peru in ungovernable by democracy? </li></ul>
  13. 13. The case for defence <ul><li>Tafur from Correo “the content of denunciations was different…accusations just like today” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Press shouldn’t anesthetise itself” </li></ul><ul><li>Valenzuela “doubt is healthy” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Those who have power in my country always abuse it. Corruption in Peru is endemic:…it has to do with the political class in this country” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Post Felch <ul><li>After continuance of political missteps and scandals, in 2006 Alan Garcia succeeds Toledo as President </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Garcia’s entire cabinet was forced to resign after an oil corruption scandal </li></ul><ul><li>In the past year Garcia has elected two PM’s (first resigned after public outcry of the passing of Amazon land laws) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Back to the crux of the issue <ul><li>The role of the journalist </li></ul><ul><li>“Should different standards apply to the journalist under a dictatorship and a democracy?” </li></ul><ul><li>“Should journalists be concerned if their reporting leads to a crisis of governability?” </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a case for development journalism as we saw in the Pacific? </li></ul>