5 Latin American media outlets that refuse to shut up Global Voices

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In Latin America, press freedom faces many challenges. In many countries, journalists and broadcasters face censorship, media blackouts and verbal attacks from those in power. Many also risk their lives reporting on their communities. In some countries they face criminal charges and in many cases experience precarious employment. The concentration of media in large corporations linked to the political and business class is also a challenge.

Independent media strive to overcome different forms of silence with innovative ideas. The Global Voices Latin American community researched five alternative media that creatively inform people.

1. Wabra

Wambra, Medio Digital Community (Digital Community Media) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the freedom of expression of groups historically excluded from the media in Ecuador. Thus, since its creation in January 2010, Wamba told stories that are missing from mainstream media because “they disturb, upset, disrupt and mobilize”.

Wambra has gone through various changes. It started as an online radio station with programs co-produced by community groups and organizations. In 2016, it established itself as a digital medium that includes audiovisual formats, journalistic specials, podcasts, live broadcasts and social media content. All of this journalism involves the participation of organizations and communities such as feminist, LGBTIQ+, youth groups, environmentalists, human rights organizations, indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, among others.

What sets Wambra apart is the wide network of alliances it has forged with other alternative media in the country and region, and how it works with a wide diversity of communities simultaneously. It is a medium that not only generates journalistic content, but also accompanies the social and political processes of the social organizations, groups and communities with which it works.

2. El Bus TV

El Bus TV was founded during the 2017 protests in Venezuela, which were heavily suppressed, with censorship, press cuttings and persecution of journalists and activists. In this context, a group of journalists decided to report from inside the buses on what was happening in the streets of Caracas. They quickly created a methodology that would allow them to bring information directly to people: they used a cardboard television frame to separate them from the public, created a short script with the news of the day and mobilized by groups of three. (presenter, photographer and producer). This allowed them to create a simulation of a TV news.

El Bus TV quickly became a hyperlocal, community-based solution to boost access to information in Venezuela and expanded to 15 states in the country. In 2018, El Bus TV was chosen among the 10 most innovative journalistic works and projects on the continent in the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation’s Gabo Awards for New Ibero-American Journalism.

During the coronavirus pandemic, a new methodology has emerged in Venezuela: the flipchart – sheets of paper with the most important news of the day displayed in the busiest corners of different cities. Here you can read more about this community journalism initiative.

3. The Silla Vacia

La Silla Vacía is one of the pioneering digital platforms for independent journalism in Colombia. It was founded in 2009 with the aim of presenting the exercise of power, while providing a discussion platform in which users can contribute to the political debate. Undoubtedly, this media has opened the door to many alternative initiatives in the country.

In the collective imagination, the expression Silla vacia (“Empty Chair”) dates back to the failure of the peace process between the government and the FARC guerrillas, when the leader of the FARC refused to attend an event in 1999, leaving a white plastic chair who was assigned to him. However, the expression actually refers to the chair left empty by the then president, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, when he did not attend the meeting with the indigenous communities of Cauca who had marched along the Pan-American Highway.

Violence and the polarization of society in Colombia have increasingly restricted access to information in the traditional media and the Internet is flooded with fake publications. In this context, La Silla Vacía has managed to stand out and remain a reliable platform that presents verified facts, and is also one of the first fact-checkers on social networks.

@lasillavacia #Otoniel #ClandelGolfo #ParoArmado #Antioquia #Atlántico #aprendeentiktok #tiktokinforma #noticiastiktok ♬ original sound – La Silla Vacía

4. Perimeter

Mexico – where eleven journalists have been murdered so far in 2022 – is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalism. In this context, in 2019, the Perimeter The journalistic communication medium was founded in Jalisco under the slogan “#PeriodismoParaUsarse” (“Useful Journalism”) referring to its reports that are socially useful. Jalisco is a western Mexican state known for its mariachi and tequila, but it also, unfortunately, has the highest disappearance rate in the country.

Perimeter is a journalistic medium committed to incorporating small audio clips that can be easily shared. In addition to his sound approach, the texts of his articles have a lot of space between paragraphs to facilitate reading.

Perimeter features various sections with unconventional data, chronicles and profiles, and chronicles and soundscapes on marginalized populations such as women, the LGBTQ+ community, and Indigenous peoples.

If profile data is not taken into account to find the women, it is even more difficult to explain their #Disappearance. @FiscaliaJal [Jalisco’s Public Prosecutor Office] can’t explain why #women are disappearing.

5. Public Question

The Independent Media for Investigative Journalism Public Question (“Public Matter”) was founded in Colombia on March 4, 2018, and exposes cases of abuse of power. It is distinguished by its defense of democracy and social justice, but above all by its independence.

It focuses on issues of “public interest corruption such as health, labor, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, rural conflicts over land tenure, political alliances that benefit private interests, and anything that concerns post-conflict Colombia”.

Although it is a recent alternative medium, it has won two Simón Bolívar journalism awards. The first prize was in the press news category for his revelations about the corruption of Colombian politicians in the Odebrecht case, and the second prize was in the news category for revealing information about the 2019 attack by the state against FARC dissidents in which eight children died. Question public has also had a critical, determined, investigative and very close to the communities participation in the social outbreak of 2021. It is supported mainly by subscriptions, donations and educational agreements with partner organizations.

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