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FLIP releases innovative multimedia report on self-censorship

The Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) has launched a dynamic multimedia report breaking down the causes and consequences of self-censorship in Colombia. Restrictions on access to information, government-controlled advertising and sponsorship, and armed conflict have contributed to self-censorship, says the report (in Spanish only.) "Autocensura y prácticas periodísticas regionales" is a distillation of workshops with 140 journalists and 63 other sources, including police, governors and regional ombudsmen, throughout the country, offering video interviews, cartoons, profiles of journalists, and guides for protecting journalists, among other resources.

One section of the website courageously profiles journalists from several regions, as they identify themselves and speak frankly about the root causes of self-censorship. Journalists routinely face threats from armed groups, organised crime and the control exercised by politicians, civil servants and powerful individuals.

One of the most significant problems that came out of the research is that journalists don't have fixed salaries, and in order to sustain the newspaper and continue to earn a living, certain stories are not covered. Stories about links between armed groups and politicians, drug traffickers, land appropriation, natural resource exploitation, instances of public officials intimidating journalists, labour issues, among many others, are avoided. Journalists self-censor because they are afraid for their lives and they want to protect their families and colleagues. It permits them to feed themselves and survive.

Self-censorship creates a society that is poorly informed and unable to participate fully, says one journalist. "Truth is the first thing that gets lost," he adds. In a culture of fear, communities learn to tolerate injustice and impunity.

The role of advertising also shapes self-censorship. Journalists are unable to report on the links between corruption and government because of government advertising and sponsorship, controlling which newspapers exist.

To read the full report (Spanish only), see:

Autocensura y prácticas periodísticas regionales

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