The general climate for the practice of journalism was disrupted by a discourse rooted in sectors of the ruling party that insists on the idea of lawfare - a theory that postulates a collusion between the media and judges. In this context, the attacks against the Supreme Court of Justice intensified.
Journalists were also affected by several cases of judicial harassment, as well as by a high level of stigmatization by high ranking officials in the national and provincial governments.
During this period there were two serious arson attacks against media headquarters. In November, a group of hooded men attacked the facilities of the Clarín newspaper in Buenos Aires with Molotov cocktails. In the weeks that followed, four of the attackers - all members of an anarchist group - were identified and arrested. In December, a group of anti-mining protesters vandalized and set fire to parts of the facilities of the newspaper El Chubut - in the Patagonian city of Trelew. Three protesters were arrested.
In the judicial sphere, there was concern over the request by the General Audit Office of the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Santa Fe province to the media Aire de Santa Fe to hand over the contents of a conversation between one of its journalists and a prosecutor - within the framework of a complaint filed by the president of the local Supreme Court. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the decision by the Supreme Court of Justice to suspend the enforcement of the ruling - included in the October report - which required that journalist Santiago O'Donnell hand over the originals of the recordings he obtained from interviews carried out as part of the writing of an investigative book. Press organizations, such as Adepa, stated that the secrecy of journalistic sources - enshrined in the national Constitution - should not be infringed.
Another positive ruling for press freedom was the revocation by the Federal Court of Mar del Plata of the prosecution of journalist Daniel Santoro, of Clarín.
There were court rulings against press freedom, among them, that of the Superior Court of Justice of the province of San Luis against journalist Diego Masci - director of the Zbol portal. Masci was considered, in previous instances, material and criminally responsible for the crime of violation of privacy, for the publication of a video of the current provincial Environmental Minister and, at the time of the filming, Education Minister of the province of San Luis. The Court upheld the first instance decision - which was ratified in the second instance and ordered the payment of a fine and also required Google to remove from YouTube the video that led to the lawsuit - thus setting a precedent at the provincial level of the so-called "right to be forgotten."
In another judicial ruling, the Paraguayan courts ordered the international arrest of the Argentine journalist Julio Chiapetta - a ruling contrary to the Inter-American standards regarding the criminal prosecution of journalists because of their work.
In recent weeks, the Supreme Court analyzed the validity of the "right to be forgotten," based on the case "Denegri, Natalia vs Google." Adepa brought up - in an amicus curiae supported by the IAPA - the incompatibility of this concept with the principles of press freedom. Adepa also reflected - within the framework of the presentation - on the damage caused to public debate by the dynamics of digital platforms.
In the area of public media, there is concern over allegations of dismissals due to ideological reasons. There are also attempts by state agencies to set criteria for journalistic coverage - as occurred with the media productions related to the 40th anniversary of the recovery of the Malvinas Islands. The announcement of a project related to the regulation of social networks was quickly aborted or toned down as a result of critical reactions in public opinion.
In terms of stigmatization against the press, it was unfortunate that the President retweeted a message describing journalism as a "national disgrace." Meanwhile, the governor of the Chaco province declared that the media should be regulated, because "people tend to think what the media and journalists propose." In a similar vein, the governor of La Rioja stated that there should be limits to journalism, because "there are people who concoct, lie and generate this situation of discouragement in society." In December, Senator Juliana Di Tullio tried to link journalist Hugo Alconada Mon - of La Nación, who was precisely the one who revealed these maneuvers - with the setting up of cases against trade unionists. In the last few weeks, until a few months ago, the judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Eugenio Zaffaroni - also a former judge of the Supreme Court of Argentina - reiterated his statements of 2020 in which he associated the media with the communication policies of Nazism and Stalinism. Also of concern were the statements made by Sergio Urribarri - then Argentine ambassador to Israel and Cyprus - who claimed that Daniel Enz, editor of the magazine Análisis, was part of a judicial and political scheme to discredit him. A few days later, Urribarri was sentenced to eight years in prison for corruption and had to resign his post. Irene Benito - another inland journalist victim of judicial harassment - suffered a judicial setback in a case that seeks to criminalize her work.
The sustainability of the newspaper industry is seriously threatened by a combination of factors. The national economy is suffering the effects of two years of pandemic combined with a monthly inflation that exceeds 5%, a chronic deficit in the public finances and a particularly adverse business climate, aggravated by an uncertain political horizon. Private advertising in the media fell sharply during the pandemic and national government advertising now represents 20% of the volume it had a decade ago. The big technological platforms signed content agreements with a hundred Argentine media, which is a first positive step, but clearly insufficient. These revenues are very low in relation to what journalistic contents contribute to the platforms and to the economic significance they represent for the media companies.
January 25 marked a quarter of a century since the murder of journalist José Luis Cabezas. His death set a line that, fortunately, has not been crossed since then in Argentina.