CNP: Chávez was no journalist


LOGO 2010 CNPIn a written statement, the National Guild of Journalists (known here as the Colegio Nacional de Periodistas or CNP) has strongly rejected yesterday’s decision of giving the 2013 National Journalism Award to the late Hugo Chávez.

They justified their rejection in part because of Chávez’s record regarding free speech:

“We reject that the 2013 Simón Bolívar National Journalism Award was granted to the late President Hugo Chávez, who was the responsible of the shutdown of innumerable media outlets during his governing term (like RCTV or 33 radio stations), leaving dozens of collegues without work. He also, on more than one ocassion, exposed journalists who made “uncomfortable” questions to public ridicule…”

But their biggest objection is simply that Chávez wasn’t a journalist, according to the legislation that regulates journalism in Venezuela (Ley del Ejercicio del Periodismo).

Article 2 of the same law establishes that: “To exercise the profession of journalist it is required to have a university degree in journalism or media studies… …and to be a registered member of the CNP.”

Interesting that the National Journalism Awards’ jury forgot that not just the late comandante presidente didn’t fulfill those requirements, but that his government has pushed both legislation that undermines journalism and a parallel journalists’ guild.

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  1. I know Gustavo is pretty proud of his CNP membership, but I have to say I find CNP’s argumentation super lame: the BIGGEST reason for CNP to object to the award is that Chávez wasn’t a CNP member?!? C’mon…

    Yes, yes, it’s sour grapes from someone who had a hell of a time in Venezuelan media because i’m not colegiado, but let’s get real: the rule that journalism, like medicine, must NEVER be practiced without a licence is absurd. The closed shop rule accounts for an important part of the hackistry in Venezuelan media, where deeply mediocre reporters hang on to their jobs because papers are unable to replace them with more competent people who don’t happen to hold a journalism/media degree.

    It’s to be expected that CNP would want to defend this cozy little arrangement for its members, but let’s not pretend like the closed-shop rule is in the public interest. Of all the reasons not to give Hugo Chávez a journalism award, the fact that he didn’t have a CNP card doesn’t rank in the top 1000!

    • Well, in Hugo’s defense, he was a much better journalist than ever he was a president.

      Can’t the AN retroactively legislate him a CNP membership? After all, what can’t the do in the name of hagiography to honor the Commandante?

    • I admit that journalism isn’t like medicine or engineering, so I think the current limitations could be relaxed. Having said that, not everyone has the skill to do this profession.

      I’m glad we’re living in a time where technology has give us new tools to better cover world events like what’s happening in Syria, Turkey or the floods in Europe. I’m thankful that the Internet and blogs exists so I can have the chance of do my craft. But journalism isn’t easy. Not everyone with a blog or a camera as an automatic journalist.

      Of course, this is a debate we should have and I respect your opinion, Quico.

    • FT, c’mon. we all know that you had to hire Gustavo for your Blog to have CNP representation, so that CC wouldn’t be Internet-blackballed in Venezuela!

    • In defense of the CNP, I think it is important, particularly in Venezuela, to have an independent organization that gives journalists a shared voice and promotes standards. As with the journalists union.

    • Quico, it’s not that it’s the BIGGEST reason; it’s that it’s the clearest legally determinant one.

  2. I agree the studies should be the last reason to criticize this award. Instead, they should have talked about the level state media has reached, about Chavez’s attacks against journalists, about his cadenas.

    Few journalists in Venezuela seem to even know the rules for the use of tildes, even if these are probably the simplest rules you will find in any language with variable stress (well, most of the other Venezuelans, even with a university degree in humanities or social sciences, don’t know the rules either).

    Few journalists seem to have acquired a decent knowledge of any domain outside “comunicación social”. I just think of Angola interviewing Varela and asking her about Marx’s definition of love or how journalists themselves don’t seem to be able to use charts or similar artefacts to explain a lot of what journalists elsewhere use.

    Gustavo, you have seen the German media. Germans have a lot of protected professions but journalism is not one of them. And they have excellent journalists. A lot of them studied “just” journalism but then went on to study something else…or they came from other domains, like Marietta Slomka, who studied economics and politics and is one of the best TV journalists Germany has.

    • Agreed. But I can tell you from first-hand experience that in Germany is not easy to get into journalism, even with a college degree. A collegue which I worked with years ago tells me that the media over there is very demanding in the qualifications they look for and the level of skill they use (the German used by journalists there is far more advanced that the regular one) is far superior to anything we’re used to do here in Venezuela.

      • Indeed, Gustavo, but perhaps, just perhaps competition has contributed to rising standards in Germany.
        Of course, Venezuela has a general problem with education. But in any case: I would not ask for a special degree by law on anything other than health studies, security (yes, cops should have a certain degree) and things like civil engineering or food engineering or stuff like that.
        Well, I also miss the knowledge of some domain among journalists in many other places. Perhaps opening up the field would make journalists want to go beyond learning the skills for “communication” and get some speciality in this or that other domain.

        In any case, I think the journalists’ federation should have used other arguments to criticize the personality cult with Chávez.

        • I agree with those points and the idea of expanding the craft here at home. I think the CNP should have detailed other aspects like the growing culture of self-censorship or the lack of access to official sources.

  3. The thing is that con cartón o sin cartón, Chávez was not a journalist. If they had given him the Premio Nacional de la Canción Patria Bolivariana that would have been okay, even if he wasn’t a member of El Colegio de Cantantes Patrios Bolivarianos and didn’t have a BFA in Canción Patria.

  4. Perhaps we are about to see how the late Intergalactic Supreme Commander is going to receive a barrage of awards for things he didn’t do or simply wasn’t. Hell, I would give him the equivalent of a Grammy for his interpretation of “Patria”; that shit is catchy.

  5. Finally – someone with the balls to reject the “dictator” that has destoryed Venezuela and the government that remains in power under a big black cloud. My wife is from your great country and we can’t wait to go back when the corrupted government finally gets ousted. This day will come!!


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