Press freedom has been eroded by the government’s obsession with uniformity in thought and its intolerance of pluralism in ideas. Senior government officials avoid giving press conferences or speaking directly with journalists. Media outlets and journalists’ associations expressed their displeasure at being excluded from press conferences and other events in Europe and the United States held by Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and by President Néstor Kirchner. The presidente granted interviews only to the foreign press. The government has provided no information on freedom of information, which is to be upheld in ten Argentine provinces as well as the capital. To promote public awareness of this constitutional right, the Center for Implementation of Public Policy and Clarín newspaper, along with other organizations, published a guide to help the public learn about and exercise this right and be better informed about public affairs. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Argentina has issued clear rulings with far-reaching institutional implications, such as in the case of a petition for protection filed by Río Negro newspaper after the Neuquén provincial government withdrew its advertising from the paper in December 2002. This move was in response to a critical piece the newspaper ran on influence peddling in the provincial legislature. The Supreme Court’s ruling established objective criteria aimed at preventing discrimination in the placement of government advertising. The ruling holds that the Neuquén provincial government acted arbitrarily in drastically reducing the amount of advertising it placed in the newspaper in December 2002 and then eliminating it entirely in January 2003. The Supreme Court did not view the issue as a strictly financial one, but rather as a question of freedom of the press. The court ruled that temporarily withdrawing advertising was a means of indirect censorship that the government should not have engaged in, and requested that the Neuquén provincial government issue with one month objective guidelines within one month regarding the placement of government advertising. Three justices voted in the minority in this case. Two of them held that it had not been proven that the newspaper had suffered financial harm, while the third said that “while judges should prevent the government or private parties from restricting the normal operations of journalistic publications, the refusal to place government advertising in exchange for payment is a different matter, one that is inherent to the risk of doing business.” The majority of the justices held that the case was not about defending the non-pecuniary rights of any one party, but rather strengthening freedom of speech and protecting the ability of the media to allow a variety of voices to be heard, and that financial harm need not be proven. The government may not pressure media outlets by jeopardizing the integrity of public debate, because this harms press freedom and the legitimate interest of Río Negro newspaper and its readers to obtain in gaining information about the government’s actions. The free press is not seeking a form of government subsidy, but simply wants government spending to be carried out objectively. Editorial Perfil, a publishing company that owns Noticias magazine and the weekly Perfil, filed a similar claim in 2006 after having been denied government advertising. There was also another promising development in the judicial arena: the opening of a new information center that will allow people to learn about and discuss court rulings. Journalists have faced a number of problems, including threats to their physical safety. There have also been lawsuits and court rulings that have hampered the profession and misrepresented its work. The Córdoba newspaper La Voz del Interior was violently attacked by members of the Press Union attempting to prevent the distribution of the newspapers La Voz and Día a Día. A criminal complaint was filed in response. The Misiones newspaper El Territorio has been subjected to an ongoing campaign of persecution by the administration of Governor Carlos Rovira, which is denying the newspaper government advertising. Affiliated companies also have been hurt by this campaign: a criminal complaint was brought against the board of directors of the publishing company in connection with a journalistic investigation into a social program known as Plan Nacer. Some leaders of the Newspaper Vendors Union attempted to prevent the sale of the newspaper on April 6 of this year. The organization’s secretary is a paid adviser for the government. On July 27 a car parked in the home garage of a reporter for the paper was intentionally set on fire, and on September 26 the chief of staff, flanked by several other officials, held a press conference to attack and threaten the executives of El Territorio. The government filed several criminal complaints against members of the newspaper’s staff. The relationship between the media and the government was also strained as a result of investigative stories published during the election season. The case of a bag of money found in the bathroom of the finance minister — as well as the alleged bribery in connection with a gas pipeline expansion project managed by the Swedish company Skanska —initially were dismissed as exaggerations of the press, but the justice system later determined that the allegations in both cases were true. In a far-reaching development that exemplifies this strained relationship, the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín published a story critical of spending by the Department of the Environment. This provoked a reaction from Alberto Fernández, chief of staff of the national government, who criticized the story and assailed the qualifications of journalist Claudio Savoia. Journalist Adela Gómez was injured when she was shot with rubber bullets by a member of national security forces that were supressing a demonstration in Santa Cruz. The national government ordered the immediate dismissal of the soldier who fired the shot. Journalist Carlos Furman — host of the program “Destapando Ollas” (Uncovering Pots) on the radio station FM 2 de Octubre in Santa Elena, Entre Ríos province — was jailed and beaten at a police station by police officers. The assault came after the journalist had reported on 30 unidentified corpses in the local cemetery, pointing out that one of them might be that of a 13-year-old girl who had been abducted. Charges were dropped against Marisa Rauta, editor of the newspaper El Diario de Puerto Madryn, after a criminal complaint had been filed against her by a former appeals court judge in connection with a story that had mentioned him as being under investigation by the judicial oversight panel. The judge ruled that the imperative to protect the reputation of public figures is lessened in matters involving press freedom and issues of public interest. Governor Juan Carlos Romero of Salta province filed a criminal complaint against journalist Sergio Enrique Poma, alleging slanders from insulting or offensive words or actions, and the judge hearing the case hearing the case sentenced Romero to one year in prison and barred him from working as a journalist. The Penal Code allows judges to bar people from practicing a profession, but only in professions that require authorization, license, or credentials. Joaquín Morales Solá, a columnist for the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación, and Jorge Fontevecchia, chairman of the publishing company Editorial Perfil, were threatened in anonymous phone calls and e-mails. La Nación endured accusations from the government on several occasions in connection with stories that could not be refuted. Susana Alonso, editor of El Atlántico newspaper in Mar del Plata, in Buenos Aires province, said that she had been threatened and that electronic equipment and documents had been stolen from her home after the paper published on the so-called “Trial of Truth” that examined which looked that followed the military coup of 1976. The court ordered round-the-clock police protection. The Buenos Aires newspaper El Sol de Quilmes was ordered to pay steep damages to a minor and her family in a civil case. The case stemmed from statements made by the minor and her guardian when they showed up at the offices of the newspaper and said that the judge had granted custody of the minor to a man who was also her boyfriend, because her mother was forcing her to work as a prostitute. After the family dispute was settled, the mother, the daughter and her siblings sued the paper. Minors are protected against unlawful or arbitrary violations o their privacy. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling. The heavy award for damages threatens the newspaper’s ability to continue operating.