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Tuesday, 24 August 2021 09:41

Say my name ¡I am journalism!

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In addition to the violence against the press, the State has criticized and lectured on what good journalism is, questioning its democratic value. There are several forms of journalism, all of them valid, and it is the audiences who decide how good or bad they consider them to be. 

In the face of the violence against journalists, there was no indignation or messages of rejection, but there were attacks and sobering stigmatizations about what "good journalism" is. Citizen media have stood out in the midst of these aggressions, but have been labeled as enemies of the State. 

What's desirable journalism? How much objectivity is necessary? What is the matrix and the limits that the media should follow? Turning the identity and mission of journalism into a public debate ends up being a defeat for plurality and a victory for authoritarianism and for those officials who deepen the fragility of Colombian journalism. Do we debate about good and bad accountants or do we accept that their heads are broken with a baton for not having filed their income tax returns properly or because when they did it they had a whiff of sensationalism in their eyes? 

The recent months have been the most violent against the press in recent decades. In less than 90 days, 342 journalists who were covering social demonstrations were victims of some kind of aggression. Some 216 were assaulted by law enforcement officers. 

There was no indignation, preventive measures or messages of support for reporters. There were, on the contrary, sobering messages on how to do good journalism. We heard it from the government, mayors, and commanders of the security forces. They also launched phrases showing their contempt and stigmatization for those citizens who "carry a camera and play at being journalists". All kinds of adjectives: sectarian journalism, the activist old guy, alternative media, prepaid. All of them. 

Generating this debate, inside and outside journalism, installing the issue as a concern, and swelling the journalistic exercise with all kinds of questions has called into question the value of a democratic pillar and has brought to the razor's edge the mantras that had been installed in free societies: that the exercise of journalism is fundamental for a citizenry that defends the expression of its ideas. 

Read and download here the editing of Pages for Freedom of Speech Amidst the rustling of blows and attacks, grass also grew. The 2021 demonstrations will mark a milestone for citizen media and for plurality. The penetration of social networks, lower costs and civic mobilization have served as a springboard for university media, photographers and empirical journalists to be the protagonists of a new story. Their impact on audiences is evident in the

streets of Medellín, Popayán or Cali. A phenomenon that had already been announced in November 2019. 

At the same time that groups of citizens protect them, they are subject to persecution, threats and constant stigmatization that seek to label them as enemies of the State, the same invisible gags that have operated in Colombia in the most recent years. 

The expansion, consolidation, and constant presence of these citizen media challenge the logics of the establishment and offer citizens opportunities for voice, particularly to communities that lack constant access to media. "In the community, for the community, about the community and by the community," reads a Unesco slogan about this journalism. 

There are no single, valid answers about the journalism’s mission. There are journalisms, that are, different and opposite models. All of them are valid, as bad or as good as their audience decides. However, this is a discussion that should be strengthened and maintained in the academy and in the daily practice of the media, not in the corridors or in the offices of public buildings.