By Julieta Long
Miami (June 30, 2022) - The Inter American Press Association and the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) of Venezuela presented the new book "Chapultepec Index of Freedom of Expression and Press." The work measures press freedom in 22 countries between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
During the presentation on June 28, the Inter American Press Association president, Jorge Canahuati, said that the book "not only reflects the last three years of IAPA's work but the very spirit of the Declaration of Chapultepec, which was born almost 30 years ago".
Both the Declaration of Chapultepec and the Declaration of Salta played a fundamental and necessary role in the drafting of the book, making it possible to measure the degree of freedom of expression and press freedom in 22 countries.
"The annual results of the Index, in addition to becoming benchmarks for journalistic information, point out the areas in which we must promote public policy reforms to strengthen freedom of the press and freedom of expression. We are sure that those who dive into the Index will find valuable information and data to understand the reality, even if it is not to our liking," commented the IAPA president.
Carlos Jornet, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press, said that the Chapultepec Index fulfills a triple function: it is at once a tuning fork, a barometer, and a lighthouse.
The comparison with a tuning fork is because the Index makes it possible to refine the diagnosis of the state of press freedom in the Americas. On the other hand, he mentioned the Index as a barometer since it can determine the pressure of each state on freedom of expression. Finally, he compared it to a lighthouse because "it allows us to orient our commission's plan of action."
According to Marcelino Bisbal, professor and researcher, the objective of the Index is to show the action of government institutions regarding free expression in the Americas.
By reading each report, we can learn about the situation of free expression and press freedom based on the contexts in which journalistic activity takes place and how these contexts impact the performance of media.
To conclude the presentation, León Hernández, a researcher at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB), explained how the Index is made and how it differs from others.
First, they converted each of the values and principles of the Chapultepec and Salta declarations into measurable indicators. From there, they constructed a 53-question questionnaire that approximately 150 people answered in each edition. The diverse sample included media executives, in-house journalists, academic experts on freedom of expression, and legal experts on the right to freedom of expression.
The next step was the regulation of the rapporteurs, which included exhaustive recruitment of talent, academics, and journalists in the countries involved to provide context to the results. "This allowed us to provide the reader with different descriptions of all the facts, attacks, aggressions, and confiscations to which the media and journalists were victims and objects in each nation. In addition, we were able to establish an analysis of weaknesses, opportunities, strengths, and threats," commented Hernández.
Finally, the researcher said that the Chapultepec Index differs from the studies carried out by other organizations. Other indexes have a broader view and cover pressure factors affecting press freedom. "Our index is only a look at the institutional action of the powers of the State, the action of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch, to determine how unfavorable and how favorable the actions of these governments are in guaranteeing or, on the contrary, harming both freedoms," he concluded.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.