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Media war by privately-owned TV channels continues unabated in Venezuela Venezuela

  Venezuela’s Electronic News —


Thursday, June 30, 2005

VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: The media war run by privately-owned TV channels, radio, Internet and the printed press targeting the Bolivarian Revolution of President Chavez continues unabated in Venezuela.

Despite opinions to the contrary … saying that the media has “calmed down” or in “gagged” by the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio & TV … the following well researched example will illustrate how news is manipulated in Venezuela to create a negative matrix of opinion on the social revolution taking place.

The evidence

In the program “La Hojilla en TV “ (The Razor Blade on TV) troubling proof of media manipulation practiced by the privately-owned 24/7 news channel Globovision was shown, using the systematic manipulation of a series of interviews to create an adverse matrix of opinion against the Barrio Adentro (Into the Neighborhood) primary health program.

On June 16 in the Globovision program “Alo Ciudadano” (Hello, Citizen) hosted by one Leopoldo Castillo, a journalist carried out a series of interviews in the El Valle area, located in the west of Caracas and where most of the inhabitants are relatively poor.

The interviews were broadcast live and were comments on Barrio Adentro II … the second phase of this mission where 600 Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Centers are being built nationwide, and where medical treatment is 100% free of charge. The interviewees were encouraged to speak about the problems in this mission and how it could be improved. The majority of the interviewees (9 out of 13) praised this social program even though some criticized parts of it.

The report

Three days later, the journalist concerned published a special report base on the interviews and excluded all the positive comments made by the inhabitants of El Valle. The report concentrated on a few criticisms and the alleged disinformation which the average citizen has on this mission, to give the impression that no one knows Barrio Adentro and no one uses it.

Of the thirteen interviews conducted, the journalist only used four: one in which the person thought that Barrio Adentro should be eliminated, another where a woman criticized the use of Cuban doctors, another where the interviewee praised the plan but thought that more attention should be paid to hospitals and a fourth who said that they knew nothing about Barrio Adentro.

Media exclusion

The remaining nine interviews were excluded from the “special report” which automatically came to represent the opposition attitude toward Barrio Adentro. The opinion of the Venezuelan Medical Federation (FMV) … which has always been opposed to Barrio Adentro since the launch of this mission … maintaining that “Cubans are taking our jobs” — even though none of the members of the FMV were prepared to go and live in the poor areas and work with the people — was then broadcast, rejecting the mission for its use of Cuban doctors and to whom the journalist referred to as “supposed doctors from Cuba,” implying that they have not received adequate medical training.

A 45-second interview was broadcast with Daniela Parra, the president of the FMV, who has always been in total disagreement with how Barrio Adentro has been run … but there was no opportunity given to any government representative to answer these criticisms. In an attempt to create a balanced report, two declarations for a total of 30 seconds came from Cuban doctors working in the mission .. but the FMV accusations were left unchallenged by any government expert.

For Mario Silva, presenter of “La Hojilla en TV” — where this media manipulation was denounced — the video report illustrates the immorality of the owners of Globovision who (in his opinion) obliged the journalist to change the original report to create a matrix of opinion that the inhabitants of El Valle either do not know Barrio Adentro … or simply reject it.

This media manipulation is still typical of so called “opinion programs” on Venezuelan private TV stations. Even this morning, when so-called experts were discussing the results of the Petrocaribe summit (which finished yesterday), emphasis was placed on the two countries out of 17 that did not immediately sign the agreement … preferring to evaluate the text, rather than the 15 (including Venezuela) that did sign.

Ergo, the matrix of opinion that it was a “failure for Chavez.”

Just go to the Globovision web site today and read the headline: “In spite of the refusal of some countries∑∑” and you have to read well into the article to discover that the two countries that did not sign were Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.

Why was the headline not: “88% of participating countries at Petrocaribe summit signed on the dotted line,” for example?

Draw your own conclusions.

Carlos Herrera

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