Sobremesa Chronicles

A new study by American University yields a result that, to some, might seem shocking: right after it changed ownership, Globovisión became an unbiased news outlet.

Three academics linked to the University, led by Prof. Michael McCarthy, studied the station’s broadcasts between 2013 and the summer of 2014. They found that there was no bias in the station’s coverage, and that both the government and the opposition got the same type of coverage.

Ironically, today we find out that Mariana De Barros, a journalist at Globovisión, was fired for tweeting about the shortcomings found in this report. She correctly pointed out that the study had found Globovisión’s coverage of Leopoldo López’s imprisonment was not broadcast as extensively as it could have been:

“The study revealed Globovisión to have given coverage to a fairly wide range of issues and perspectives. A total of 36 topics received coverage, with many of these directly related to the main themes and problems prevalent during the junctures. This suggests that Globovisión covered the most important issues and problems facing the country. It is difficult to draw a similarly positive conclusion about the extent to which Globovisión strengthened political pluralism with fresh perspectives on controversial topics or discussing new elements of hot topics. For example, the case of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López received less attention from Globovisión than from international outlets such as CNN in Spanish or NTN24. Lillian Tintori, López’s wife and his spokeswoman while he has been in jail awaiting trial, appeared on Globovisión a handful of times. But, she was not featured as an in-studio interviewee.”

Aside from the De Barros issue, there are at least two possible caveats to this report. The first is that much has changed in a year, and the authors should be careful before extrapolating. Even if one believes Globovisión was impartial during that time, I don’t think we can make the same case again.

The other curious thing is that the study was commissioned by Globovisión, but they don’t disclose this in the report itself. After I emailed McCarthy about this, he responded by saying that the report was commissioned by Globovisión and, initially, it was intended for them only, so there was no need to include who had commissioned it. However, he points out that they have been open in saying that they comissioned it. He also pointed out that the Center was given complete autonomy by the channel as to how they carried out their analysis. (McCarthy, by the way, has served as Freedom House’s country expert on Venezuela for their Media Freedom in the World Report two years running)

At any rate, what do you think? We all know Globovisión used to be pro-opposition in the past. But now … in all honesty, con el corazón en la mano … is Globovisión an unbiased news outlet? Or is this report just an attempt to whitewash a red media outlet? Is truth somewhere in between? Does the De Barros debacle prove that Globovisión is pro-government?

Have a great weekend, everyone.