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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Coronavirus pandemic creates rare union between competing newspapers in Latin America



*This story has been updated.

The worldwide crisis of the new coronavirus pandemic is spreading a rare wave of collaboration between competing media outlets in Latin America. During the week, publications from at least nine Latin American countries published identical covers with headlines related to fighting the coronavirus. 

Puerto Rican newspapers use the same slogan published by Spanish publications
 

The inspiration came from Spain: on Sunday, March 15, the main newspapers in the country published on their front pages a campaign by the Ministry of Health, with the slogan “#EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos” (United we will stop this virus).

On Wednesday, March 18, five Puerto Rican newspapers shared the same front page, with a message identical to that of Spanish newspapers, #EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos. Ten radio and TV stations from the island also joined, spreading the slogan during its programming.

“The serious and traditional press has been the shield to protect the world from false news and rumors at a time when humanity needs accurate and timely information to help contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus,” editor María Luisa Ferré Rangel of newspaper El Nuevo Día said.

In Mexico, the initiative at El Informador brought together more than 40 newspapers

In Mexico, the initiative was from the newspaper El Informador and brought together more than 40 publications, which featured in its editions of Thursday, 19, the slogans #ElCoronavirusNoPasa and # QuédateEnCasa (Coronavirus does not pass and Stay at home).

In Argentina, the Association of Newspapers (Adepa, in Spanish) coordinated the action in the country, which took place on Thursday, March 19. Most of the newspapers printed the slogan "Al virus lo frenamos entre todos. Viralicemos laponsidad" (We will stop the virus among everyone. We viralize responsibility).

In Argentina, a newspaper association led the initiative
 

“In the face of the global advance of the pandemic and the impact it is having in our country, the media unite their voices and their actions in pursuit of a unambiguous and forceful message, to express together with the citizens of the entire country the need for us all to commit ourselves to containing the virus and taking care of people,” Adepa wrote in a statement published on its site.

The same happened in Peru on Friday, March 20. The campaign led by the Peruvian Press Council and newspapers in the country wants to encourage citizens to stay at home. “#YoMeQuedoEnCasa” (I stay at home) is what you read on the front pages of newspapers.

Peruvian journalists join the fight against the virus
 
 

Also this Friday, newspapers from El Salvador dedicated front pages to a campaign of hope in times of crisis, with the message “Juntos saldremos adelante El Salvador” (Together we will come out in front El Salvador).

The editorial manager of the newspaper La Prensa Gráfica told the newspaper itself that the campaign is an effort “to show unity in the face of the adversity we confront today due to the pandemic of COVID-19. [...] There are times like this when we put aside all that divides us and make a common front.”

In Paraguay, the main newspapers published on their front pages the phrase "La Garra Guaraní will win over the Coronavirus" on Sunday, the 22nd. The newspaper Crónica published the slogan in Guaraní, one of the country's official languages alongside Spanish: "Ñande pyapy mbarete ombotapykuéta coronavirus." It was also the day of action in Bolivian newspapers, promoted by the country's National Press Association. In Venezuela, independent print newspapers closed due to government pressure, the union took place between independent online outlets.

TV broadcasters in the region also joined the campaign to combat the new coronavirus. A video from the Latin American Information Alliance shows journalists from almost all countries on the continent advising the public to stay at home.

In Brazil, regional initiative before national campaign

In Brazil, the National Newspaper Association (ANJ) is articulating a similar action for Monday, March 23. Before that, on Friday 20, the two main newspapers in Piauí, Meio Norte and O Dia, anticipated and labeled the front page with the words "Stop for life, stay at home."

Newspapers Meio Norte and O Dia, both in the state of Piauí

“The public's receptivity has been extraordinary. When we published the posts on the Facebook and Instagram pages, the demonstrations were immediate, with a large number of shares and encouraging comments. Although we do not seek applause, but simply collaborate, help raise awareness of the enormous need for social isolation, we are happy to know that we got it right. Being humble and supportive is the least we can do, ”José Osmando, director of journalism at Grupo Meio Norte de Comunicação told the Knight Center.

“The idea came up in the newspaper Meio Norte. (...) We made the art here in the newspaper O Dia and shared it with the newspaper Meio Norte,” editor-in-chief of O Dia, Adriana Magalhães, told the Knight Center. “More than ever, we need to sustain good journalism. Only this journalism is able to keep the population well informed and minimize the problems caused by fake news. The journalist is playing his part. We journalists put ourselves on the front lines, to make the link between the crisis and the population.”

On Sunday, the 22nd, it was the turn of newspapers from the Brazilian states of Maranhão and Paraná to unify their front pages with messages against the coronavirus.

This Monday, the 23rd, dozens of Brazilian newspapers unified their covers to run a campaign by the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ, for its acronym in Portuguese) to support the fight against the coronavirus and disinformation.

The announcement of the initiative highlights the importance of information and the responsibility of all in facing the pandemic. By uniting in a common effort, the newspapers also call for the valorization of journalistic information and create a common hashtag -- #imprensacontraovirus (press against the virus -- that points to the efforts of the media in the collective fight against the virus.

"In dramatic situations like the one we are experiencing, accurate and contextualized information is an even more essential asset," emphasized journalist Marcelo Rech, president of ANJ. "The action demonstrates the unity of Brazilian newspapers around a common cause: serving the population with quality journalism so that, with the responsibility that the moment demands, we face and win the over the pandemic."

 

* This report was updated to include that Brazilian newspapers would run a similar campaign against coronavirus and misinformation on their front pages on March 23, and also to include regional initiatives in the states of Paraná and Maranhão, and in Paraguay and Bolivia on March 22, and in independent digital outlets from Venezuela.



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