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The State of the Argentinean Blogosphere: Blogs About Journalism and the Media

Original version in spanish here

To find information about the media is not usually, at least not in Argentina, an easy task. For many particular reasons – economic, political, or pure convenience – there are very few places to find information about facts related to journalistic issues such as dismissals, mergers and other business events. Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised by the recent appearance of blogs specializing in publishing information about the media that is rarely known by the general public, aside from exhibiting an uncommon critical sense in mass journalism. These blogs also have another particularity: they're signed under a pseudonym, and the journalists who write them have a certain degree of anonimity. Why do they keep these blogs? Three bloggers explain their interest for the media, and the lack of debate about the state of journalism in Argentina. They are: Papipo, from “Del Medio“; Samurai Jack, from “Barra de Seriales“; and Periodista Oscuro, from “Solo un oscuro periodista“.

Acording to Papino, “blogs are tools that come in handy to journalists that are typically unemployed and can't talk or write about what they want, when they want and how they want to. There is no critic or selfcritic even when superficial of the media. In my case, I found in a blog the necessary channel to digest my opinions about the office, something that at my paid job and with my true identity I couldn't be able to do”. On the other side, Periodista Oscuro affirms one of the causes of his blog is that “there is no space within the media to criticize one's work. It's possible in a writing office to criticize the competition or journalists from other media, but it's implicitly forbidden to do it about the media company you're working at. It's an environment that should encourage debate and discussion but instead a climate of unquestionable authoritary hierarchy is established”.

Where the three bloggers coincide is the progressive loss of quality in Argentinean journalism. “There's a generalized cultural decline, a labor impoverishment, and a careless style. Among other things, because there are no editors or correctors”, says Samurai Jack.

And why inform about the media, then? “The information about the media should be greater because the media has to be very transparent in its procedures, capitals, etc”, says Papipo. “In Europe and the USA, there's a long tradition of journalistic ethics that in Latin America in general and in Argentina in particular not only is not practiced, but it's unthinkable: for instance, the difussion of declarations of assets and the ombudsman are usual issues that were never done here”. And Samurai Jack adds: “Carlos Abrevaya said once that the media are the reading books of the citizen, then it's vital for the citizen to know who are the authors and whose interests do they defend”.

Of course, the fact that producing his blog under a pseudonym can be sometimes a subject of debate, but it's clearly justifiable for those interviewed: “I can't openly write against the media I work at. Simply because I'd get kicked out”, says journalist Periodista Oscuro. And Papino adds: “without a pseudonym I couldn't write 90 percent of what I write. Still, there are many others who write using their full name about the media and never make a straight, profound critic on other media and colleagues because it's clear that they fear losing their source of work or making enemies with potential working partners or critics of their work”.

In these blogs, many times we find specific information about certain issues related to the media, such as articles with mistaken information or terrible edition, or dismissals, or curious details. Such emphasis on the specifics won't make the reader lose sight of the more structural character of the relation between the media's quality impoverishment and the financial needs of the companies? Papipo answers: “At least my blog tries to include the anecdote, the reflection and the critic. If I don't contextualize or go to a macro analysis of the decisions it's my fault or lack of time to elaborate more on the articles. I make a blog, not a media that tries to be a reference point or a paradigm. People are not stupid and when they find information criticizing journalism usually they're astonished, but more than anything, it confirms their suspicions about certain media and journalists they mistrust”. And Samurai Jack reinforces the idea of a participating audience: “Readers, people, the Internet consumer, are active subjects. We write for the percentage of people connected in a world where there are people with no running water. I mean, I don't think they need to be told that the media people are powerful and manage us or that journalists are those guys who make things in the spaces the publicity leaves free”.

To cite some good examples of Internet journalism, I'll mention Periodismo.com, Diario sobre diarios, and Trabajos Practicos. Also, La Vaca (Papipo), Puto el que Lee and Arbitrario (Samurai Jack) and Eduardo Fabregat's and Sebastian Hacher‘s blogs. To name some poorer examples, Periodista Oscuro and Samurai Jack point at Bloc de Periodista, from Dario Gallo, executive editor of Noticias magazine. Papipo, who's had several polemics with other journalists who keep blogs, prefers to refer to the kind of contents he's not interested in, without saying names: “I don't like blogs that publish gazettes without a minimal critical analysis of the information or the onanists in which all posts are selfreferential and there's no feedback. I won't give names because I'd create polemics and would be accused of seeking traffic”.

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