Journalists discuss power of the press in Latin America

Michael McKay

A panel discussion among three Latin American journalists about the power of the press in Latin American countries took place at WKU this morning. “Power and the Press in Latin America, A Broken Equation?” was co-sponsored by WKU and Harvard.

One of the panel guests was Mercedes deUriarte, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

The drug cartels in Mexico have used violence against journalists who attempt to cover the cartel’s actions, deUriarte said.

“In Mexico, the way in which the press has been censored is through violence,” she said.

About 45,000 civilians have been killed by Mexican cartels since the year 2000, including 74 journalists, deUriarte said.

WKU isn’t far away from the terror that Mexican drug cartels cause compared to other terror-related activity in the Middle East, deUriarte said.

“It’s two hours from here to Austin (by plane) and another four driving to the border,” deUriarte said.

Another panel guest, Pablo Corral Vega, said the power the press in a Latin American country has is dependent of the power and popularity of its leader.

“The leader loves his country, and because he loves it, he cannot be wrong,” Corral Vega said.

Corral Vega said journalism in these countries should be separate from its leaders.

“The press is not meant to be a political actor,” he said.

Corral Vega said that journalists in these countries would continue to have a harder time telling stories as these leaders continue to control media outlets.

“They’re a lot more aware of the power of the media and they’re not willing to compromise,” he said.