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Argentina: What the Media Didn't Say About Personal Fest

Categories: Latin America, Argentina, Arts & Culture, Digital Activism, Media & Journalism

Last Friday in Buenos Aires, the Personal Fest [1] was held, which was an event that gathers Argentine and foreign musical artists, sponsored by a local mobile telephone company: Personal owned by Telecom Italy. The show was preceded by an impressive advertising campaign in every imaginable media: television, radio, magazines and newspapers. But this Friday something unexpected happened: during the wait for Snoop Dogg's show, a person was stabbed and another one was attacked, which caused a huge disturbance. Many people ran way causing a stampede and many were trampled on and injured, not too seriously, fortunately. Many of the people who went to the Personal Fest affirmed that it was a miracle that the incident did not end in a massacre [2]. Scared by this incide, and despite there still were a few more show left, many people decided to leave the place where the festival was taking place.

The most shocking fact was that, despite the existence of injured people, practically no media covered the incidents, not even the local cable news stations, who are prone to those “last minute” newsflashes. This particular silence towards a serious issue in an event sponsored by one of the largest advertisers in Argentina, started a real furious reaction among blogs and forums. In a certain way, the fact itself was left in the background, and the big subject was the notorious hiding that the media made of the facts. And when they did bring it up, they did so in a casual way, playing down its importance.

Just a few minutes later, people who attened the Personal Fest started leaving comments on the event's blog, which were deleted a few hours later, something that was reported in blogs such as Personal Fest Desastre [3] [es], a site created to tell the story. The site's creator wrote:

Creé este blog para postear todos los comentarios que fueron borrados del site oficial del Personal Fest. La intención de esta via es canalizar las opiniones q fueron suprimidas del site para garantizar nuestro derecho de expresarnos y defendernos del abuso permanente.

I created this blog to post all of the comments that were erased from the official site of Personal Fest. The purpose of this medium is to channel the opinions that were withheld from the site in order to guarantee our right to express ourselves and defend ourselves from permanent abuse.

In this same blog, one can see pictures of the incidents [4] and a video [5] filmed a few minutes after the stampede of people.

But many other personal blogs also talked about this incident. The journalist Eduardo Fabregat, from Pagina /12, the only news media that informed about these issues, made an early summary report [6] on his blog Pan y Circo [es].

Anoche, en la primera fecha del Personal Fest y poco antes del show de Snoop Dogg, hubo un herido de arma blanca. Según me contó el periodista Roque Casciero (quien confirmó la versión con personal de Cruz Roja y la Policía), desde que trascendió la noticia hubo un importante operativo de Popart y Personal sobre la prensa para minimizar el hecho, e incluso se dio a conocer un comunicado bastante livianito en el que se habla de “un incidente entre un reducido grupo de gente”, no se menciona el arma blanca ni que el herido fue operado en el Hospital Rivadavia.

Last night, on the first night of Personal Fest and a little bit after the show of Snoop Dogg, there was a person wounded with a weapon. According to the journalist Roaque Casciero (who confirmed the story with personnel from the Red Cross and the Police), from the time that the news was announced there was an important operation from Popart and Person regarding the press in order to minimize the event, and even there was a light communication in which they referred to a “an incident between a small group of people,” and there was no mention of neither a weapon, nor the wounded that was operated on at the Hospital Rivadavia.

Also the 20 Palabras [es] [7]news site published about the incident, and hundreds of comments broadened the information.

La desorganización del festival acaba de dejar un herido. Es un chico que acuchillaron en medio de una estampida, tras la que se fue un cuarto del público. Está internado en el Hospital Rivadavia.

The festival's disorganization left one wounded. It is a male that was knived in the middle of a stampede, and after which more than a fourth of the public left. He is admitted at the Hospital Rivadavia.

The website of Argentine version of the Rolling Stone magazine published a light account of the event, which they called “a party”. In this note, comments were disabled. Instead readers literally assaulted the previous article about the show the band The Police played a few days earlier. That article did allow comments and the readers accused the media of hiding the facts. Such comments were deleted, but the magazine published a note about the incident, which can be found here [8], and where one can find more comments of angry readers.

Behind these, dozens of blogs started publishing about this subject and linking other sites. In a few hours, any person that wanted to find information about the incidents in the Personal Fest could do so. Despite the fact that the mass media had not informed about the issue, the information was widely available.

And there are some early conclusions from different bloggers. The first one, it's increasingly evident that, for certain issues, the traditional media do not monopolize the spreading of certain topics of public agenda, but they still act like they can –in this case, by not informing about a serious incident in an event sponsored by one of the largest advertisers in the country. Unblogged.net [es] writes [9]:

Periodismo ciudadano? La revolución de los blogs? Llámenlo como quieran. Lo que es seguro es que para estar bien informado, con los medios tradicionales, no alcanza.

Citizen journalism? Blog revolution? Call it what you want. I assure you that to be well informed, the traditional media is not enough.

Second, the fact became a real public relations disaster to those who organized the event. Many blogs revealed that the organizing company and the press agency that managed the event pressured to avoid the release of further details of the incidents; by doing this, they created a massive protest in the Net, and now the events have blown out of proportions, as Fabregat of Pan y Circo [es] reported [6].

Third, that in a country still sensitive for the tragedy of Cromañon [10], where 194 young people died of asphyxia in a rock concert, any incident in a public event quickly becomes big news. There are no deaths in this case, but there were injured people. Gabby Aloe of La Vie en Rose [es] [2]was relieved that there were no deaths:

Gracias a Dios fue en un lugar abierto y amplio como el Club Ciudad, si era en otro predio con accesos más chico, hoy los estaban contando. La gente corría y decía, “no sé explotó el escenario, explotó el escenario.”

Thank God it was in a large and open space like Club Ciudad, if it was in another location with smaller access points, maybe I would be saying something else. The people ran saying, “I don't know, the stage exploded, the stage exploded.”

Fourth, that the mass media are also one of the most affected parties in this incident; certain agencies cannot control like they used to four or five years ago.Here's a list of blogs that talk about this topic and that have not been cited in the rest of this note:

2 Papiros [11]
Denken Uber [12]
Manzana que no [13]
Vida Vacía [14]
Geekotic [15]
Online [16]
Tecnicalia [17]
La tuya está [18]
Kill Your Kids [19]
Fabio.com.ar [20]
Partido Pirata Argentino [21]
Bonzo [22]
Unos cuantos piquetitos [23]
Pablo Mancini [24]
Bloc de Periodista [25]
Martín Revert [26]
Mundo Perverso [27]
Yo opino que [28]
Sonoaxis [29]
La verdad de la milanesa [30]

If there's a blog I did not mention, leave the link in the comments area.