Journalism practice, media and democracy in Venezuela (2000-2010)

Bracho-Polanco, E. 2014. Journalism practice, media and democracy in Venezuela (2000-2010). PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Art and Design

TitleJournalism practice, media and democracy in Venezuela (2000-2010)
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsBracho-Polanco, E.

Since first winning elections in 1998, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez became one of the most vocal leaders in the international arena to oppose the U.S. and western neo-liberal policies. His administration arguably represents the most radical socio-political shift in the western hemisphere during the twenty-first century. Its political model has led to a political polarisation previously unknown in Venezuela and Latin America.

In such a highly-polarised environment and ongoing clashes between pro-Chávez forces and the opposition, the news media have played a central role as active political entities. Venezuelan journalists have become agents of specific ideological advocacy and political militancy. Such a scenario in the media collides with most normative liberal notions of balanced, accurate, transparent, and ethical journalistic practice, as well as with certain ideals of the media’s democratic role.

Based on a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with Venezuelan journalists, media-related professionals and commentators – designed to represent adequately both sides of the ideological divide – this thesis critically explores how journalistic practices have been carried out in Venezuela under the Chávez administration. As its central and original contribution to knowledge it analyses how news media professionals in Venezuela evaluate the ways they have reflected an acute political and social confrontation in news outlets, and their varying roles as agents that shape a highly-polarised social sphere. Very importantly, it offers answers to the question of politicisation among journalists, and the ways they understand the boundaries of professional and normative practice.

The research draws conclusions in relation to the ways reporters, editors, scholars and commentators perceive journalistic practice as a means to promote democratic values, and whether or not Venezuelan news media have enhanced democratic debate during the 2000s.


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