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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Despite threats to Nicaragua’s press freedom, good journalism can emerge, veteran journalist says



Two years ago this week, a police raid on a media research center in Managua run by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro prompted international concern that President Daniel Ortega’s government was persecuting his critics—such as Chamorro—and violating press freedom.

Chamorro, winner of the 2010 Maria Moors Cabot Prize, believes that Ortega—who has a hostile relationship with the media—will be elected to a third term in November 2011, barring something unforeseen. But Chamorro remains hopeful about the future of journalism in his country, he said Thursday (Oct. 14) during a lecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I am optimistic about the media even though the media has its own problems. There is yellow journalism, and there’s this tendency of some business people within media not putting enough importance on ethical needs, but there’s a new generation of journalists in Nicaragua that I think is a signal of hope,” he said at the talk sponsored by UT’s Institute of Latin American Studies.

“These are people who went into journalism from a different motivation than the one I had 30 years ago,” explained Chamorro, whose entry into the profession after the 1978 killing of his father—an editor and publisher—is recounted in this New York Times Magazine piece.

“I went into journalism because of politics. They have gone into journalism because they want to write good stories, and because they want to be independent journalists, and you find this in several places. There is some good journalism in both La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario, and in the different TV stations and radio stations. … I think there is hope in that aspect, and the fact that there are still some in-depth and some investigative efforts, even though the government is fighting every piece of relevant information.”

To resist new restrictions by authorities, Chamorro said journalists and media will have to be more self-critical and accountable.

“I think in the long run it is very important to develop a self-criticism of the media. It’s the only way in which to gain moral authority in order to stop government intervention and regulation.”



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