Cecilia González is an awardwinning Mexican correspondent based in Buenos Aires. The author of several publications about journalism and organised crime, both here and in Mexico, she spoke to the Times about her views on the health of journalism in Argentina.
Were you surprised by the public reaction to the police having shot rubber bullets at journalists during the Thursday December 14 protests outside Congress?
Yes, it was very concerning. I heard people say: “What were the journalists even doing there?” There is an attitude in Argentina that tends to reduce everything down to [a] ‘heroes and villains’ [mentality]. This is clearly apparent in the media whose coverage, in favour of one side or against another, impedes society from contributing critically with their opinions [on matters like the violence against journalists]. Thank goodness for Twitter! I went to President Mauricio Macri’s press conference following the protests and while I wasn’t able to ask any questions, I was surprised that no other journalist questioned him about this, not even from a place of solidarity!
What is your take on the health of journalism in Argentina?
When I won the FOPEA prize in 2016, I said that in Mexico, journalists are being murdered while in Argentina they’re being fired. Around 3,000 journalists in Argentina have lost their job since Mauricio Macri came to power in 2015. And it is evident that there is a type of pro-government uniformity in the media. Top this off with the aggression toward journalists during last month’s protests and we have a general situation that is affecting press freedom.
And in terms of investigative journalism, for example, into organised crime?
There are some fantastic journalists in Argentina, doing some great work and really breaking down the negative stereotypes that exist about our profession. Often our pessimism gets the better of us! For instance, you have the book Los Monos by Hernán Lascano and Germán de los Santos, which looks at the expansion of organised crime in Rosario. At Infobae, Rodolfo Palacios has done a lot of work on the Ephedrine case. Or Emilia Delfino at Perfil, one of Argentina’s best investigative journalists, who doesn’t let up on any of the stories she’s working on.