The importance of real pluralism in the media

9 March 2016 / Published Buenos Aires Herald

A true democracy requires various other essential ingredients rather than free elections at regular intervals and one of them is media pluralism that fully reflects a diverse society. Such a pluralism obviously demands a multiplicity of opinions but rather more than that — there must be a level playing-field with various media enjoying as equal an access to the general public as possible. Of the diverse obstacles to that aim, two stand out — big government and big business. Any state bid to gain total control of the media market is pernicious — whether directly or via the construction of a system of favoured parastatal media. But the domination of powerful corporate groups is also an enemy of pluralism — regardless of whether their main aim is to impose their vision of public affairs or to promote business interests which have nothing to do with the media market. In this regard, well-implemented state regulation should safeguard a competitive market and expand the communication to social organizations. It was a sadly missed opportunity that a piece of legislation in many ways as exemplary as the Broadcast Media Law, approved in 2009, has been betrayed by the one-sided implementation of the law by the Kirchnerite government. Set against that backdrop, as soon as Mauricio Macri took office, he swept the audiovisual law away by decree just to create tailored-legislation for major corporations.

Yet the reality of the last few years is that neither one extreme nor the other prevailed — instead the laudable objective of diversity degenerated into a ding-dong battle between bitter rivals, confusing freedom of expression with trench warfare. But even a media landscape reflecting the broadest spectrum of opinions may not be enough to ensure pluralism in the deepest sense — the real challenge facing the media is to incorporate that pluralism within themselves. Each newspaper has every right to maintain an editorial line and it is healthy that they express and explain it as articulately as possible. But their readership also has the right to find the full range of contrasting opinions in the same newspaper with all the various shades of grey in between, not concealing any news on behalf of the hidden agenda and special interests of the ownership.

Within this context, the importance of the Herald should not be underestimated. If we said above that newspapers should maintain an editorial line but also represent the full range of opinions, we can say that our editorial line (as seen in this space but not only today) is simultaneously to present all sides of the issue. Carrying a history of 140 years, this newspaper also points the way to the future.

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