Even though press freedom is guaranteed by the Chilean Constitution and deriving laws, it is not always respected in practice. Investigative journalism is losing ground, and attacks against journalists are on the rise.
While it would appear that mass media outlets are diverse, most of them belong to the same economic groups. The main newspapers are El Mercurio and La Tercera, and the main TV channels are TVN, Mega, ChileVisión and T13. Among the radio stations are Bio Bío, Cooperativa and ADN. The demand by citizens and social and political movements for informative diversity is increasingly high, which has opened a space for alternative media to flourish. The emerging media outlets unfortunately still lack professionalism and stable sources of financing.
Since October 2019, large and lengthy street demonstrations demanding unprecedented changes of political processes have rattled the political scene in Chile. An amendment to the constitution allowed for the election of the youngest president of the world, Gabriel Boric, who is not part of the alliance between the two parties that have governed the country since the end of the dictatorship, driving a significant change in Chile that has affected the media and journalism.
The current constitution in Chile was imposed by the civil-military dictatorship in 1980, with some modifications made during the third Concertación government (2000–2006). The Press Law on Freedom of Opinion and Information and the Exercise of Journalism, enacted in May 2001, was written within this legal framework. The new constitution, scheduled for 2022, suggests a review of said law in order to leave behind the legal remnants of the dictatorship and guarantee the right to information.
The big media outlets in Chile are associated with economic groups, and the possible conflicts of interest raised by the treatment of certain issues have impacted the confidence of the population. The changes initiated by citizen demands have revealed the urgency of the need for a regulatory body supporting the professionalisation and greater independence of alternative media.
Citizens and social movements today have expressed their mistrust of the information published in the mass media. While there still are media outlets and journalists with great credibility, there is a demand for plurality and diversity of information.
Along with the resurgence of street protests and the questioning of the current political model have exposed the violence perpetrated against journalists by the police and military intelligence services. Existing laws are not effective in protecting news professionals and, although progress has been made, attacks on journalists and the media remain largely unpunished.