Sobremesa Chronicles

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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. We’ll see about that once the campaign for the Parliamentary Election kicks in. That it doesn’t behave like VTV doesn’t mean it isn’t controlled by the government.

    • Well, they didn’t measure “control,” but rather “content.” In that regard, the relevant question is whether or not the content is unbiased.

  2. I don’t think the subject of Globovision’s editorial stance is particularly controversial. Everyone knows it’s the news network equivalent of a political figure jumping the talanquera.
    What’s controversial is the report itself: Can a network that self-censors, fires staff for obvious political reasons and ignores the biggest political persecution cases be described as unbiased?

    However, if the report was commissioned by Globovision and was meant for Globovision only, we shouldn’t give a crap because that’s like asking a narcissist to give a self-assessment.
    But releasing the report as if it were an independent study is very lowbrow, and if they’ve done so without adding that little bit of fine print then we don’t need any more evidence to know that it has taken a turn for the worst.

    • So if a TV station is asked to display beheadings by the majority of its audience at prime time, so be it.

      Zero bias regarding information distribution is not really that feasible at all.

  3. I have not followed Globovision, but IMHO there are NO unbiased outlets in Venezuela. The polarization is so great, that whoever writes, has a strong bias one side or the other.

  4. A few questions if anybody can answer them :

    1. What criteria do you use to measure that a tv news station is unbiased ??

    2. Isnt part of freedom of expression that you have the right to proyect news which are openly critical of the govt and those which represent it fi that reflects your opinion ?? is that criteria met here??

    3. Arent US TV stations mostly critical of president Putin and the North Korean regime and Isis , does that mean that they are bisased.??

    4. Is there freedom of expresion in a country where more than half the media is strongly supportive of the regime and all the rest are ‘unbiased’ .

    After having used dozens of hired consultants I can attest that there is a tendency on the part of these to win the favour of their principals by giving them the result they desire. The results would be more reliable if the study had been commissioned by some one truly independent who did not have any links to the company being studied.

  5. This report is laughable. As an assiduous follower of Globovision over the years, there is NO doubt that since its change in ownership it has become increasingly a mouthpiece for the Govt. party line/lies, to increasing exclusion of contrary/Oppo news and points-of-view, to the extent that today it is just another Govt. propaganda outlet (even Sergio Novelli sometimes has trouble keeping a straight face/not showing his distaste with so many Govt. propaganda “news” barrages he has to narrate).

  6. “state of the art scholarly media content analysis”

    It seems a little absurd to me. Maybe I’ve been out of school too long.

    I think the point is, the reason people talk about Globovision in the context of discussions on media repression is, Globovision is not expressing the opinions it used to express because of those opinions. Am I missing something?

  7. This report is suspect because the authors are suspect. This group from merican University hs a blog ( aula blog) which has been consistently biased in favor of the regime in their treatment of Venezuela. The report commisioned by Globovision indicates they are up to no good.

    • The Aula Blog reported on the study with comments which contained a lot of qualifiers to what the study said , here is a sample : “Privately owned news media in Venezuela face numerous challenges to providing visibility and fair depiction to sharply different perspectives on enormously controversial events. Although this report calls attention to the need to reassess the perception that Globovisión is strongly biased in favor of the government, notable holes in the channel’s news coverage suggest international concerns about press freedom issues in Venezuela remain justified. For example, the case of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López received less attention from Globovisión than from international outlets such as CNN en español or NTN24. Additionally, footage of former presidential candidate and Governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles was shown 11 times in the study’s sample, but Capriles was not an interview guest on any of the Globovisión programs. President Maduro, on the other hand, appeared 42 times (beyond government-controlled network broadcasts called cadenas). In spite of Venezuela’s chronic political crisis and extremely difficult political circumstances and the related pressures on news media, Globovision coverage, on balance, was not significantly biased either in favor or against the government.”

      The reference to notable holes in the TV Channels coverage and to the scant appearance of Capriles in its airways vs the times in which Maduro appeared makes it clear that the authors of the study are far from sympathetic to the govts treatment of Venezuelas free press .

      Maybe the study was commissioned by the new owners to show to the govt as evidence that it was unbiased as per an expert opinion so that it isnt shut down . Maduro has serveral times complained that Globovision was still providing a biased coverage of the news. The new owners are engaged in tight rope act to survive and allow at least some watered down version of the real news to continue to be shown.

      • The new owners are all figureheads of diablodiado, there’s no “tight rope” there.

        Like it was said, showing 90% of the time only information favorable for the goverment seems to be their definition of “unbiased”

        • Well Ralph I have a problem in that I dont watch Globovision or any local tv at all (even before globovision radically changed its ‘editorial line’ ) so I have to judge on what other people tell me , they say that its nothing like it was before but that quite a bit of information unfavourable to the govt (although in a watered down version) does get broadcast . That suggests to me that the price of survival for the TV Station is to lay low , silencing or toning down what might offend the govt and only allowing for limited coverage of items that reveal the govts failures and misdeeds !! I would have imagined that if DDC owned the station he would have turned it into another overt and scandalous propaganda piece.!! Of course I might be wrong and DDC maybe following a more cunning strategy to make the world believe that there is some limited freedom of expression in Venezuela .

          I dont buy any duty on the part of the news media (for the sake of balance) to falsify or distort information to artifically favour any govt or anti govt position.!! If thats read as bias then the qualification is irrelevant . Sometimes respect for truth requires that you adopt a biased posture and nothing else. !!

          • Just tune it for 5 minutes to see it’s been neutered and turned into a propaganda duct, like a more insipid version of pustv.

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    • The above advertisement seems like new form of trolling , this is not place for advertising the services of ‘spiritual’ advisors to the love lorn . Please do take it out. !!

      • BB,

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  9. I think that this study has a very limited perspective and thus limits any possible discussion that can come from it. It is impossible to analyze a single media outlet by itself today in Venezuela because context is everything.

    Apart from obvious political gains that polarization has brought to Chavismo, it has also had a very subtle but incredibly harmful consequence.

    The government has been successful in politicizing everything. Everything today in Venezuela is either pro-government or pro-opposition, the second category being define just as anything that is not pro-government. Absolutely nothing escapes these two categories so there is nothing impartial, nothing on which we Venezuelans can agree on. There is, basically, no consensus. And without consensus, how can we agree on what is real?

    The economic crisis is the clearest example I can think of. The government says it’s due to an ‘economic war’ that the burguesía is waging against the Revolución. I, on the other hand, think that it is the only logical consequence of a series of economic policies that the government has decided to implement. They are two very different conceptions of what is real, of reality itself.

    What can a television channel like Globovision (or any media outlet, for that matter) do to be unbiased? Reflect the two realities? Whoever’s watching is just going to identify itself with one of the two and dismiss the other. Polarization has, among other things, effectively destroyed the possibility of unbiased, genuinely free press. That’s our real problem.

  10. The Ultimas Noticias front page concerning López, is a clear example of the lack of journalistic standards there is in Venezuela. Simply despicable. It cannot even be considered “bias” but pure propaganda. That is, assuming that the front page published in ND is the real one, I have not been able to get to UN web page to confirm (Unfortunately in Venezuela I do not trust the news of ANYBODY, either side, the country has become the story of Pedro y el Lobo).

    http://www.noticierodigital.com/2015/05/opinion-portada-de-un-del-24052015-ceballos-y-lopez-en-plan-guarimbero/

  11. easy. When you comission the report, it’s already biased and this is whitewashing. And since when are clueless gringos the final word on Venezuela?

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