Year-End Message of IAPA President, Roberto Rock

Balance and reflection on challenges and opportunities.

Year-End Message

President of the Interamerican Press Association (IAPA)

Roberto Rock, La Silla Rota, Mexico City, Mexico

Miami (December 28, 2023) - The approach of a new year always draws a balance and reflection on challenges and opportunities that await us in the next stage of the journey.

This message aims to wish all members of our society, their families, and collaborators a 2024 full of health, peace, and achievements. Likewise, to reaffirm that our battle for freedoms is essential so that the communities we serve continue to nurture democracy as the best space for the full realization of collective dreams.

In a particularly complex world, the role of the press becomes increasingly essential. The media industry has persevered through trials, tribulations, and deep economic crises, emerging as a reference beacon.

However, the sustainability of the media faces challenges that affect journalism to the limit of its capacities. In this regard, the proposal of the IAPA to create new working committees focused on the sustainability of the industry seeks to promote the value of free journalism for a sustainable business and vice versa.

The balance of the year has been frankly negative when observing how the strengthening of authoritarianism, the advance of organized crime, and the economic weakness of the media in the face of the collapse of the advertising-based business model stand out among the leading causes that harmed freedom of expression and the press in the region.

The members of the IAPA's leadership also wish to offer our colleagues a tight balance on the organization's lines of work in the face of the challenges our industry faces, perhaps the most serious in the modern history of the organization.

The most brutal fact about the complexity of journalistic tasks remains violence against reporters and media, reflected in 2023 with the murder of 18 journalists, kidnappings and arbitrary detentions, multiple assaults, threats, and growing judicial harassment.

I believe that the growing presence of organized crime constitutes - within a particularly adverse environment - the main danger to journalistic exercise in the Americas, particularly in the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

In the coming weeks, we will seek to refine a strategy, which will be submitted to the IAPA's Executive Committee, to have an instance that systematizes training, prevention, and attention efforts for journalism operating in areas affected by organized crime. The "Safe Newsrooms Program," initiated at our October General Assembly in Mexico, should be considered the starting signal for this action plan.

It is planned to resume an intense schedule of IAPA activities in the first weeks of January, including the following chapters:

1.- Missions. We have initial contacts to carry out missions in Guatemala and Ecuador in the first quarter of the year, where we will seek to use the IAPA's influence for the new governments of these nations to commit to press freedom and sign the Declaration of Chapultepec. A virtual inspection in Peru, agreed upon by the Executive Committee, will occur. Approaches are being made for Venezuela and Cuba, seeking to renew the commitment to journalism practiced there under brutal restrictions.

2.- Support for the sustainability of the industry.

a) Workshops and Grants. The first cycle of conferences, workshops, and laboratories sponsored by Google with 40 media outlets from Central America and the Caribbean has been completed, focusing on training in monetization and audience management. More than 30 media outlets of this group have been selected to receive funds for greater viability. In the first quarter of 2024, a second round will begin with another 40 media outlets.

b) Showcase. Conversations with Google are ongoing, and we are awaiting the announcement to include more countries in the Showcase content licensing program.

c) Alliances. Conversations are occurring with various entities to strengthen media training spaces in different work areas.

3.- Conferences.

a) SIPConnect. In January, we will begin working with the Press Institute led by Ernesto Kraiselburd to develop partnerships and support that allow us to strengthen and expand this initiative.

b) Exile. At the Mexico Assembly, the worsening of cases of exiled journalists was recognized, particularly from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. However, cases from other countries, including Mexico and Ecuador, can be mentioned. An agenda is being outlined, including a face-to-face conference on this topic in the first half of 2024, with the support of international agencies.

c) World Press Freedom Day (May 3) Efforts are being made to participate significantly in the conference that UNESCO will hold in Santiago, Chile, on this date.

d) Migration. Faced with a global crisis in this area affecting the lives of our communities in much of the continent, journalism on this agenda will be supported by the IAPA through an international conference scheduled for the second half of 2024.

2024 must find us united as an industry, working tirelessly in favor of the freedom of all, with journalism as an indispensable social tool. It is in this battle that the IAPA stands united.

Thanks to all our partners for their commitment, generosity, convictions, and courage.

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.