Formed by a group of media professionals and academics, the Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) serves as a space for reflection, dialogue, and the promotion of quality journalism. It has three central pillars: promoting good practices, improving ethical standards, and defending freedom of expression.
I joined the organization 17 years ago. I am a professional journalist and have been working for 30 years in the city of Esquel, Patagonia, Argentina. I monitor freedom of expression in Chubut, my home province.
My professional development is fundamentally linked to radio and TV, and I have been working in digital media for eight years. I am also a professor of investigative journalism, endorsed by Chubut’s Ministry of Education.
FOPEA was founded in 2002 as a space for learning about and improving Argentine journalism. Its mission was to improve journalistic practices and quality through professional training, improving ethical standards, and defending freedom of expression. Through this open space, different organizations can work together in complementary ways. FOPEA is supported by journalists all over the country who defend freedom of expression. This area in particular has grown significantly since the creation of our national monitoring system. This system, which is unique in Argentina, assigns journalist-monitors to each provincial district. FOPEA continues to add new partners constantly across Argentina.
The main challenge is to get states and citizens to value the importance of freedom of expression in building democracy and act to accordingly. It does not seem to be a priority for either actor and is often considered a “journalists’ issue.” Given this situation, we must use legislation to protect journalists, their work, access to information, and the regulation of advertising guidelines granted by the state to the media, which largely determine our messaging.
This challenge impacts journalists’ daily life in Argentina.
We need greater awareness of the country’s law on access to public information. The situation is more difficult in the provinces, where there is often a lack of legislation, lack of information as to its existence, as well as a lack of knowledge among state officials of the existence of regulations and the requirements that this entails. In practice, this makes finding official data for journalistic investigations more difficult.
I think that, in Argentina, the context is becoming increasingly complex with the presence of new actors, such as those associated with drug crime. In this sense, it is critical to provide training in investigations. Despite Argentine media often undervaluing this specialty, we have excellent colleagues who are experts in this matter and even linked to international networks. We believe that the best way to sustain freedom of expression is to work together and offer more and higher quality journalism. In all cases, whatever the strategy, the key lies in media organizations working together to all attention to this issue and generate greater awareness among our citizens.
Based on the contributions of colleagues across all of Argentina’s provinces, we believe that FOPEA presents a clear and broad view of the last 20 years of journalism in our country. This is also crystallized in our experience monitoring freedom of expression, data that is used in Voces del Sur’s shadow reports. In addition, we have a network of local contacts with organizations working to defend democracy and a legal defense network with a team of pro bono lawyers who are committed to defending human rights, particularly freedom of expression. Everything we need is available.
Published on June 27, 2023.