The International Federation of Journalists today backed fresh efforts of its restructured Latin American regional group, the Federation of Latin American and Caribbean Journalists (FEPALC) to lead unions across the continent back into the information technology race.
Speaking at the third regional conference of Latin America and the Caribbean on Union Strategies to Combat the Global and Digital Media Divide held in Rio de Janeiro last week, Gregorio Salazar, Latin American Regional Coordinator of the IFJ said: “If we cannot close the digital divide, the social gap plaguing the whole region will burst open”.
With less than one year to go until the second meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, journalists representing unions in 13 countries from Argentina to the Dominican Republic joined together in the Brazilian capital to analyse and develop workable strategies for protection and defence of workers’ rights in Latin America.
In a declaration it was acknowledged that a handful of powerful global media groups, primarily from the United States and Europe have increased control of the expanding media markets in Latin America. A dramatic increase in foreign investment has led to a decline in working conditions, media quality and free expression and increased self-censorship.
The declaration highlights the “urgent need” to involve media workers in union development to improve diversity and pluralism of global information services. Key to this will be helping journalists and media in poorer regions to resist increasing political pressures.
“Governments throughout the region continue to enact legislation to speed up the process of concentration,” said Salazar. “The threats to diversity and plurality in our media have never been greater, and this has a detrimental impact on the range and quality of the work of journalists”.
The unanimous call of delegates at this major regional event was for concrete and unified actions by journalist trade unions working with civil society to put pressure on governments to counter the drift towards more concentration and less quality in media and to support fundamental freedoms, editorial independence and authors’ rights.
“We have seen the strengthening of legal structures in Uruguay** and the continued work of the Brazilian Intellectual Property Association of Journalists in the defence of authors’ rights,” said Salazar. “These cases of best practice must be repeated throughout the region so that a real system of codes, concepts and working methods within the information age can begin to close the social gap in Latin America”.
This pivotal conference organised by the IFJ and the International NGO, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, coincided with the relaunch of the IFJ’s Latin American regional group FEPALC’s website – www.fiplaro.org.ve. “We think this online medium will provide a flexible virtual platform to combat the digital and social divide in Latin America,” said Salazar.
On 18 August this year, the Uruguayan Senate passed through an authors’ rights law with four articles which guarantees strong defence of authors’ rights in conjunction with the work of the IFJ and its union begun four years ago - Click here to view details on the law in a statement issued by the Asociación de la Prensa Uruguaya (APU)
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries