The Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA) warned of the presence of Informational deserts in half the towns across the country, where there is little or no presence of journalists and media that disseminate verified local news or are limited to official discourse.
In 48% of the localities there are informative deserts in extremely weak conditions for the exercise of professional journalism, with provinces with a very complicated situation, such as La Rioja, Santiago del Estero and Formosa; compared to 25% of localities considered as informative semi-deserts, 17% semi-forests and only in 10% of the localities are there local information forests, with conditions to exercise an active professional journalism.
On Journalist’s Day, FOPEA presented a map of the national journalistic ecosystem, with a survey of deserts and informative forests, which can be consulted on the website informative deserts.fopea.org. The entity surveyed 2,464 media outlets, with 13,597 journalists in almost the entire country, where 40 million inhabitants live.
Research work News deserts in Argentina It was carried out for six months, was coordinated by Irene Benito and had the participation of 29 researchers throughout the country.
“We are talking about vegetation, climate and informative ecosystems. The areas where there are conditions to exercise an active professional journalism are like forests, where it is possible to find lights, shadows, nuances, diversity and oxygen,” said Benito. And he added: “At the other extreme are the areas where the conditions for the exercise of professional journalism are very weak. They resemble deserts because the landscape is monochromatic, arid, dry and prone to mirages “.
“Informational forests are the less frequent localities of Argentina. In general, they appear in the central, developed and most populated areas, “said Benito, during the presentation that was made this Monday virtually by Zoom..
The informative map of deserts and forests in Argentina. Source FOPEA.
“75% of the country’s departments do not have journalism or it is very marginal. They are informative deserts or semi-deserts, very incomplete local democracies, “added Fernando Ruiz, president of FOPEA.
According to the ranking of provinces prepared by the entity, More than 80% of the towns in La Rioja and Santiago have informative deserts, figure to which the localities of Formosa are close, with almost 80%; while in Tucumán, Misiones and San Juan 70% have informative deserts. There are also many towns in more developed provinces in that condition, such as Rauch, in the province of Buenos Aires.
FOPEA’s Freedom of Expression monitor in Formosa, Max Berenfeld, maintained that freedom of expression is “partial” in that province. Governor Gildo Insfrán rejects contact with journalists, especially the national media, as well as Formosa media have an “economic dependence” from the provincial government, Berenfeld said.
In order not to be left alone in the diagnosis, Ruiz presented three training guides for the creation and development of media. And raised the proposal to create “transparency clauses” in those places where there are information deserts, so that public works contractors have to report their works through advertisements in the local media.
“For example, if you are making a route in the Belgrano department, in Santiago del Estero, the contract should state that the contractor has an obligation to report to the local media about that work, “said Ruiz.
The president of Citizen Power, Hugo Wortman Joffe, supported the proposal and said that “transparency is good business. Being a credible country, with access to public information and genuine funding for independent journalism is good for everyone.”