Boris Muñoz is characteristically excellent in his treatment of the fall of Globovision to the Dark Side, in a post that covers all the story’s basics.
And yet, I couldn’t help but feel he’s doing his readers a subtle but serious disservice: his laser-like focus on Globovision obscures the broader trends in press freedom in the era of Communicational Hegemony, trends that go far beyond the fate of a single – if emblematic – TV channel.
Here, I gotta toot our own horn a bit: Gustavo Hernández Acevedo has been doing a tremendous job for Caracas Chronicles chasing down stories that capture the breadth of the onslaught, from the takeover of Cadena Capriles to the forced sales of hard-hitting regional tabloids like Maracaibo’s Versión Final and local player Global TV for the sin of carrying Henrique Capriles’s broadcasts to the way CONATEL blocked the sale of AtelTV to or any similar station out of opposition hands.
These stories are less flashy than the Globovision story, but they paint in the detail that Boris just missed. The issue here isn’t about one station being bought or sold, it’s about a new, more aggressive interpretation of Communicational Hegemony: a multi-pronged attempt to just drive any kind of critical content off of the airways and even the printing presses.
The regional angle is especially important: national outlets like Globovision were never going to run down the kinds of local stories that Correo del Caroni or Version Final could be expected to cover. In chasing down local outlets, chavismo is closing down key mechanisms for accountability not just nationally but regionally too. A mayor or a governor in a state with no independent media acquires the kind of implicit immunity from scrutiny that can’t help but turn him into a tiny-tyrant. Just imagine what can happen when you have the likes of Adan Chávez running Barinas with nobody at all looking over his shoulder.
The story, in other ways, is both broader and deeper than Boris lets on. With 6to Poder now out of publication and its editor starving himself in detention, El Nacional under intense pressure and Correo del Caroni against the ropes, it’s easy to grasp the kind of media landscape postchavismo is aiming for…and it’s dePRAVDAd.
As it turns out, Valentina Lares’s readers in El Tiempo will be much better informed about this than Boris Muñoz’s in The New Yorker, just more grist to the mill of my latest theory: everything is better in Colombia.