Tonight we had final confirmation that the sale of Globovision has been accorded, to a group of financiers that are rumored not to be too distant from the regime. I am choosing the link from El Pais in Spain to announce it so that we detach ourselves a little bit of the local emotion, one I refused to participate in as soon as the first tweets popped this past week end. And also because as far as Venezuela is concerned El Pais, mistaken Chavez picture in its cover or not, has the best track record on Venezuela info overall in the last decade.
There are two issues to consider here in saying good bye to Globovision, besides reporting on the announced demise on April 15, as the sale will take place effectively on that date. This gives us the slight hope that a Capriles victory may reverse the sale and reveal it to have been a ploy to avoid a chavista take over during the coming campaign. The fact of the matter is that Globovison has stopped long ago to be as profitable as it should be, not only because of the constant fines and legal expenses levied through the regime's harassment, but also because advertising through Globovision was a gamble. Indeed, promoting your wares through Globovison was basically equivalent at removing yourself from any possible contract with the regime and see its tax lawyers descend on you at regular intervals. Amen of a continuous decrease in Venezuela pay advertisement base as the private sector kept shrinking.
To this, in its announcement Globovison current owners are aware that under the current ownership (not even editorial line as this has become a mere vendetta to ruin the owners) there is no chance to see its broadcast concession renewed, as it happened to RCTV in 2007 already. In a Maduro presidency Globovison could only survive if its owners are changed and if the editorial line changes to a very mild criticism of the regime, just enough that this one can claim that there is freedom of expression even though most of the country will not have access to Globovision. This is the ultimate objective of the regime, to make it look like some freedom exist when actually 90% of the vital and critical information remains unsaid in the air waves. They call that participatory democracy. It has already happened to Televen, and it is worse with Venevision which actually promotes the regime on occasion.
The sale of Globovision forces us to face the first issue, a chronic lack of information unless you actually cruise the web actively and at least read national papers, as long as those re allowed (in Argentina actually papers have been more attacked than broadcast, in case you think I am kidding).
The second issue I wish to address is the lack of ethics I have observed only too often. I will start with my most personal experience, just last week, when Bart Jones, former Newsweek reporter I believe revealed himself on his own doing to be a mere pro Chavez agent. I am not sure he is paid for that, but from his words I can tell that he is unethical enough to do it for free. At this point Bart Jones still thinks that what happens today to Venezuelan media is perfectly justified because of their attitude in 2002, ten years ago, mind you. What kills me with the lack of scruples from these people is that they pay an absolute blind eye to what the regime has done, how it has set the whole public media as a mere propaganda agenda 24/24, doubled by an actual character assassination machinery that leaves comparable attempts in former East Germany as high class operations. If people like Bart Jones or James Galloway, another one in that lot that was recently brought to my attention,had any, ANY ethic, they would at least acknowledge that while private media had it coming what the regime has done to the public media is as worthy of contempt. But no, not a word.
At least these people are agents of chavismo and thus predictable. But there are also those who think that they know better, and are only too ready to find fault with Globovision, that it should do better journalism, and what not. In my point of view they are equally lacking in ethics when they examine the issue. They are all invariably living outside Venezuela and just drop back on occasion to make sure they retain some credentials as Venezuelan observers. They thus are only too ready to disregard, or worse, take it as a misplaced excuse for Venezuelan media reporting to acknowledge in which conditions journalism is exerted en Venezuela. Sometimes they even go to embarrassing condescension.
The fact of the matter is that journalism is a dangerous line of work in Venezuela and one should understand that in a polarized country journalism is equal parts information and opinion. It is impossible to be it otherwise because mere reporting of regime misdeeds transforms you automatically into an opinion maker in the eyes of chavismo, probably paid for some obscure conspiracy to boot. If you fail to understand that then you cannot do proper journalism in Venezuela, you cannot truly understand what is going on. Good foreign journalism is possible to do. Taking just European newspapers El Pais as a whole has done it though you could palce it on language. But occasional foreign envoys like Rory Carroll, also representing a center left paper, did meet with success in their coverage... But to counter this success stories, the list is long, from bloggers to journalists and newspapers, that are only too willing to look down on Venezuelan journalism, including Globovision which must have felt quite alone, quite often, sometimes willing to accept for Venezuelans what they would not accept for a second at home for themselves.
As for us, if Maduro wins and Globovision goes, well, too bad some will say. Probably they will think we will better served reading or watching their slant.