Embedded journalists: the Argentinean experienceHere's an important article on the many modes of corruption of journalists, with examples from Argentina, by Universidad de la Plata journalism professor Alfredo Torre, known in our house as Fredi (he's my kid brother-in-law). The cases he cites are more serious, but it reminds me of a little sample of such corruption that I experienced a dozen years ago when I was in Buenos Aires covering the first election campaign of Justicialista (i.e., Peronist) presidential candidate Carlos Menem. Shortly before I was scheduled to return home to New York, I interviewed a diputado (congressman) of the Justicialista party in his Congressional office, who said that I should attend an asado that Sunday for Menem and many Justicialista bigwigs. Sorry, I couldn't change my plane reservation without paying a high penalty. (And I didn't really need to hang out at a barbecue to write my story.) The diputado insisted and, ignoring my protests, commanded his secretary (a young man) to type out a letter to the airline's Buenos Aires manager on Congressional stationery, demanding that I be permitted to delay my reservations "in the interests of the Nation." So, I did go to the barbecue, which was a big waste of time journalistically (hard to interview a politician who has his mouth full), but did impress me on how readily a politician would abuse his power. Maybe my article on Menem (which finally came out in NACLA Report on the Americas) was less critical because of the savory beef, but somehow I don't think so.
Alfredo Torre writes, 'creo que a la prensa más que denominarla como "cuarto poder", habría que considerarla como un poder de carácter transversal. Es decir, con la potencial capacidad de atravesar otros poderes, cualquiera sean éstos.' Yes, that sounds right. If you read Spanish and care about the credibility of the stuff you read in the Latin American, or any, press, you'll want to visit Sala de Prensa and click on the first article, La negociación periodística, por Alfredo Torre.