Challenges for Journalism in Latin America
By NALIP board member Joe Torres
Photo: The El Buen Tono newspaper offices on fire after an arson attack in Córdoba, Mexico. (Reuters)
As an association made up of independent media makers, it is critical that we protect the human right to speak and be heard.
For many of our members, particularly documentary filmmakers, this right is essential to practicing their craft. So it is essential that we denounce efforts to silence or curtail the free speech rights of journalists and other media makers.
Recent stories on the number of journalists who were killed in Latin America in 2011 should alarm us, as should efforts by several countries to crack down on press freedoms.
According to the Inter American Press Association, 24 journalists were killed in 2011 in Latin America. The greatest number of murders occurred in Mexico (seven), followed by Honduras (five), Brazil (four) and Peru (three).
"This is troubling for NALIP since many of our members routinely work in Latin America," said filmmaker and National Association of Latino Independent Producers board member Bernardo Ruiz. "We have a unique responsibility to call attention to the issue of press freedom and violence against journalists in Latin America."
This fall, PBS' documentary series POV will air Ruiz's latest film, Reportero, which follows veteran reporter Sergio Haro and his colleagues at the embattled Tijuana weekly Semanario Zeta. During Haro's career, three of his colleagues have been gunned down for reporting on cartel bosses and crooked politicians.
While we should be vigilant about press freedoms abroad, we should be just as vigilant about press freedoms at home. Congress has failed to pass a federal shield law that would protect journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources.
A major debate over passing a shield law has centered on defining who is a journalist. Questions have been raised about whether the law should also protect, for example, journalists who report for online sites.
As people of color, we should be especially concerned about press freedoms because journalists of color have historically been the target of violence or government aggression.
Prior to the Civil War, the governments of Southern states often prevented the delivery of abolitionist newspapers. The presses of ethnic newspapers also came under fire in the 1800's and beyond. The Georgia guard destroyed the press of the first Native American paper, the Cherokee Phoenix, in the 1830s. In 1914, Texas rangers wrecked the press of El Progreso in Laredo, Texas, where journalism pioneer Jovita Idar served as editor.
During World War II, the federal government threatened to jail black newspaper publishers and editors who criticized segregation in the U.S. military.
And in recent years, Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post -- which serves the black community -- was murdered in 2007 for investigating the finances of a Muslim bakery.
To learn more about press freedoms at home and abroad, check out the following sites:
"24 journalists killed in Latin America in 2011," The Guardian
"Press censorship makes a comeback in Latin America," by Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald
"IAPA reviews state of press freedom in 2011," Inter American Press Association
"Falling on Their Shield," American Journalism Review
The Chauncey Bailey Project
Committee to Protect Journalists
Call for Submissions: Latin American Docs for Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera invites Latin America based documentary filmmakers to participate in an Open Call to present documentary projects to Al Jazeera. The selected projects will participate in the workshop of Al Jazeera Documentary, which will take place in May 2012.
At the end of the workshop, projects that meet the criteria will be fully funded channel for their production and inclusion in Al Jazeera's primary observational documentary programme Witness. The production budget for documentary of 25 minutes has a range of USD 45,000 to $100,000, possibly more depending on the needs of the film.
The deadline for submission of projects is February 28, 2012. For more information, please visit www.ajeviewfinder.com
Contact: Jean Garner firstname.lastname@example.org
Film Independent Appoints Co-Presidents
The Film Independent Board Chairman Bill Condon announced that Senior Director Sean Mc Manus and Director of Artist Development Josh Welsh have been appointed to newly created positions of Co-Presidents. They succeed Executive Director Dawn Hudson, who departed in June to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as CEO. In their new positions, Mc Manus and Welsh will work together to lead the organization and run its year-round programs that nurture independent filmmakers and expand the audience in which their work can be appreciated.
"The Board of Directors and staff are delighted to have Sean and Josh as Co-Presidents. They are a seasoned team whose skills and expertise complement one another beautifully. They collectively possess 25 years of experience, in every area of the organization, and it's clear they have a shared vision that will take Film Independent to its next level of growth. We're confident they will build upon the solid foundation Dawn established and will successfully usher Film Independent into the future," said Condon.
"Josh and I are incredibly passionate about Film Independent and its mission, and we are eager to step into our new roles and jointly lead the organization's robust portfolio of programs. We are also deeply appreciative of Dawn and her 20-year legacy of creating a uniquely warm and welcoming organizational culture. Dawn instilled core values in us and in Film Independent, especially freedom of expression, artistic excellence, inclusiveness and accessibility. We are honored to follow in her footsteps and are ready to move full steam ahead," said Mc Manus.
"Sean and I have a long track-record developing and administering programs together, so this will be a very natural transition for us and for the staff," said Welsh. "We've inherited a thriving organization with a strong, committed team in place on the Board and on the staff. I'm so excited to work with Sean in this capacity as we continue to expand existing programs and develop new ways in which Film Independent can provide vital support to the independent film community."
Opportunity for Black Men and Boys: Public Opinion, Media Depictions, and Media Consumption
From the Philanthropy News Digest
The challenges confronting African American men and boys are influenced not only by their depiction in the mainstream media but also by their own negative self-perception, a new report from the Opportunity Agenda, a project of the Tides Center, argues.
Based on a literature review and public opinion research on race as well as an analysis of media consumption by black men, Opportunity for Black Men and Boys: Public Opinion, Media Depictions, and Media Consumption (150 pages, PDF) argues that media consumption among African Americans is linked to diminished self-perception driven by an overabundance of negative media stereotypes. The report also found that sports and music programming dominates the media consumption habits of black men and boys, which in turn limits the number of positive role models they're exposed to.
Funded by the Open Society Foundations, the report calls for the media to pay more attention to the factors that lead to such disparities, with a focus on solutions; and for advocates to work with celebrities and magazines to reach broader audiences.