Journalism and the State in Argentina

Misha Khan

Photo by Grace Singer

Karl Marx said that history always repeats itself. Argentina has not had the most innocuous politicians in the past.  In order to prevent history from repeating itself, one has to know what initially went wrong. Good journalism has the power to make the world a better place. In Argentina’s case, good journalism helped achieve democracy once again by simply telling the truth.

Nicolás Lucero, Ph.D., spoke about journalism and its state in Argentina on Feb. 23 in the Gooding Auditorium as part of the humanities department speaker series. Lucero began his presentation after a brief introduction from Jorge Majfud, Ph.D., a Spanish professor at Jacksonville University.

Lucero’s presentation concentrated on the rise of journalism in Argentina and how it has grown and developed into its present state. He began by talking about Argentinian journalist and activist Rodolfo Walsh, who is considered to be the  father of investigative journalism and non-fiction. Lucero, in short, explained how Walsh’s search for the truth eventually led to his death by the strict military regime in 1977.

Walsh’s 1957 book “Operacion Masacre” narrates the difficult story of his research. It became famous as “the book with no publisher” because its content was so closely linked to Argentina’s politics that no publisher wanted to pick up the book.

Lucero also spoke about “Pagina 12,” a newspaper that originated in 1987 with a human rights agenda. The paper’s main goal was to outline the corruption of its country’s democratic government. The writers for this paper helped unite the people of Argentina with their satirical style.

Lucero also touched on the topic of how broadcast journalism developed over the years. Argentina perhaps has just as many TV shows as the United States satirizing politicians. Their main objective is not only to entertain people but also inform them about what is actually going on in the country. They humor questions, the state of journalism and all other forms of media.

Over time the politicians become accustomed to these satirical sketch TV shows and see them merely as a way to remain in the spotlight. They had to learn how to go with the flow and adjust accordingly.

One of the most well-known of these shows is “6,7,8” which first aired in 2009. It is a journalistic program that reflects on the way media reflects reality. This has started a movement of media about media, media against media.

It is what Lucero calls “a new polemical field.”

“It polarizes positions,” he said. “You are with it or against it. It affects and conditions all representations of events. Everything participates in this polemical dynamic. It is actually a very paranoid way of reading.”

At the end of his presentation, Lucero welcomed questions from audience members, but before he did so he asked his audience some ethical questions.

Some of his questions included, “How independent can a journalist be?; what is the importance of truth?; and what is the question and place of truth when we can no longer be naive about the transparency of representation?” He left the audience with something to think about.

Lucero is is an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Georgia. Before coming to the United States in 2001, Nicolás worked as a librarian at the Instituto de Literatura Hispanoamericana and as a teaching assistant at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, where he received a licenciatura in Modern Literatures in 2000. He earned his MA and doctorate in Spanish from the University of Iowa.

Junior Stephanie Arnold attended Lucero’s talk and found the information useful.

“The information about journalism and government in other countries is useful so an American audience can come to a realization about how lucky they have it for free speech rights to be in their constitution,” she said. “He was very enthusiastic about the topic of media and government in Argentina and it was evident that his purpose was to alert the audience.”