The polarisation between state-owned and privately owned media is still much in evidence in Argentina. Censorship by judicial means is one of the biggest threats to the media, and journalists and media outlets are often the targets of civil defamation lawsuits.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed by law, and it’s a principle that’s dear to Argentines. The two main newspapers are Clarín and La Nación. The information website Infobae and the private TV channel Telefe are also very popular. However, the diversity of voices is influenced by a high media concentration, state and private advertising, and a partisan conception of the public media throughout the political spectrum. In the poorest provinces, the framework encompassing the practice of journalism is deteriorating due to the conjunction of government and business interests.
Freedom of expression is a principle valued by Argentines, and is supported, by conviction or convenience, by almost the entire political class. Over the past few decades, political opposition has had a direct impact on the media system. The generalised polarisation, guided by both political and economic interests, impoverishes the debate. Some topics are dismissed from the outset due to the radicalisation of opinions, systematic opposition and the absence of debate.
Press freedom and freedom of expression are guaranteed in the constitution. Since 1983, when democracy was reinstated, the legislation has been shedding the authoritarian remnants of previous decades. The crimes of contempt, slander and insults were eliminated from the penal code. Redress for false or defamatory information is restricted to the civil sphere. Confidentiality of sources and professional secrecy are guaranteed. Legislative advances to limit the power of censorship, data commercialization, respect for privacy and dissemination of fake news by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others have been poor or non-existent.
The Argentine press is not exempt from the persistent economic difficulties of the last decade, which have made employment even more precarious. The most powerful media belong to a small group of conglomerates with ties to the telecommunications business, oil exploitation, and development of public projects. Between 2015 and 2019, almost all anti-concentration and cross-interest regulations were cancelled. The state, through advertising, tax exemptions and awarding contracts, plays an opaque role in its official support of diversity.
Argentina is a country marked by sharp contrasts, with the huge metropolis of Buenos Aires, twenty medium-sized cities and extensive territories with low population density. While the entire country has access to culture, the acceptable conditions for the dissemination and exercise of journalism vary greatly.
No arrests or murders of journalists have been recorded, and serious physical attacks are very sporadic. Attacks or threats against journalists or the media arouse the indignation of both the population and the political class. Journalists can, however, become the targets of police violence during major demonstrations, intimidation by criminal organizations
However, journalists are exposed to being targets of police abuse in the context of massive demonstrations, intimidation perpetrated by criminal organizations (drugs, human trafficking) and interventions by parapolice in impoverished neighborhoods and provinces.