Title

Protecting democracy or conspiring against it? Media and politics in Latin America: A glimpse from Brazil

Author Information

Afonso De Albuquerque

Date of Publication

2017 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Political Stability

Keywords

srhreports, politicalstability, country-brazil, Latin America, Brazil, political stability, media, democracy, Forth Estate, journalism, democratic order

Description

“Political communication researchers often take for granted that a free press is one of the most important pillars of a solid democracy. Based on the western Fourth Estate model, they suppose that a free press naturally acts as an accountability agent, by protecting the interests of common citizens against government corruption and political abuses. Like many other nonwestern regions of the world, studies about the relationship between media and politics in Latin America usually adopt a ‘transition to democracy’ approach, by evaluating them more or less positively in reference to their degree of conformity to western examples. Typically, these studies describe advances of Latin American media toward a more democratic model or point to the obstacles preventing this from happening. However, these studies rarely explore a third possibility: What about cases in which the free press seemingly conspire against the democratic order? The 2016 parliamentary coup that overthrew President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil provides a vivid example of such a possibility. Based on this case, this article contends that analyses about the press/politics relations in Latin American societies must consider other factors, such as those related to their postcolonial nature. In particular, I argue that Latin American elites and their media portray themselves as a westernized minority endowed with a civilizing mission regarding their societies as a whole, and manipulate the Fourth Estate discourse toward their own benefit, as a means for securing and legitimizing their own privilege."

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Protecting democracy or conspiring against it? Media and politics in Latin America: A glimpse from Brazil

“Political communication researchers often take for granted that a free press is one of the most important pillars of a solid democracy. Based on the western Fourth Estate model, they suppose that a free press naturally acts as an accountability agent, by protecting the interests of common citizens against government corruption and political abuses. Like many other nonwestern regions of the world, studies about the relationship between media and politics in Latin America usually adopt a ‘transition to democracy’ approach, by evaluating them more or less positively in reference to their degree of conformity to western examples. Typically, these studies describe advances of Latin American media toward a more democratic model or point to the obstacles preventing this from happening. However, these studies rarely explore a third possibility: What about cases in which the free press seemingly conspire against the democratic order? The 2016 parliamentary coup that overthrew President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil provides a vivid example of such a possibility. Based on this case, this article contends that analyses about the press/politics relations in Latin American societies must consider other factors, such as those related to their postcolonial nature. In particular, I argue that Latin American elites and their media portray themselves as a westernized minority endowed with a civilizing mission regarding their societies as a whole, and manipulate the Fourth Estate discourse toward their own benefit, as a means for securing and legitimizing their own privilege."