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In a country like Colombia, restricting press freedom means repeating the past
This law would would revive in Colombia the professional card for journalists, or credential, as they want to call it now. It is nothing more than a return to the past disguised with the word "guarantees".
Leer en español: En Colombia peligra el periodismo
The truth is that journalism currently in Colombia is recognized as a role, not even a profession, but a role. This happens thanks to the fact that the journalist, many times, is mediocre and sensationalist. However, it is not journalism's fault, but of some that discredit it. Therefore, the same work has been affected.
As a result of journalistic work undervaluation, people think it is necessary to give "guarantees". The idea, according to the speakers of the bill, is that this work should be more valued, and also better paid.
Senator Jonathan Tamayo, one of the main speakers of the project, said to La W, "we have to give guarantees to our journalists", "we must make them respect". Well, here is an idea: let journalists work.
Let's start from the two main proposals: the journalistic credential and the Professional Council of the Social Communicator
The Journalistic Credential
It is similar to the professional card that existed until 1998. This one pretends to be a kind of "validation", that says who can or can not practice journalism.
This, obviously, would prevent many, who today practice as journalists, continue doing so, because to obtain the credential they must have studied the career, among other requirements. The idea, in addition, is that the main media companies request this card as a work requirement.
Many will say, erroneously, that it does not matter, because this would prevent working as journalists, but not as columnists. In this way, the lawyer, scientist, economist, etc., who wants to write a column could continue to do so. It is true.
But that is not the point. The point goes beyond that. Actually, in Colombia, a country that is building peace step by step, it is necessary that all sectors achieve a convergence. The media, being "information democratizers", are a tool for this. Therefore, Colombia needs journalists, all kinds of journalists.
Surely to me, I studied the career, it would favor me looking for a job. Well, I would have more doors open than others. However, that's not what journalism is about. It is not about selfishness, specially in a country that needs to know what is happening. A country that lived in the midst of war, and needs to know its past and its present, to stop making mistakes.
The Professional Council of the Social Communicator
It is a regulating entity, which will keep a record of credentials. This council will have the power to apply sanctions to journalists who violate the rules they will create. It sounds absurd to unite in one sentence the word "regulator" and the word "journalism". Well, journalism is supposed to be free, precisely, to talk about certain things that in other areas, such as politics, one cannot.
While it is true that sometimes the field is discredited by people who take advantage of the media, in general, those who perform this work have clear fundamental principles, and do not need a "regulator." Much less someone who sanctions them because, who will determine who is sanctioned and how?
This whole thing leads me to think about the past. A past that I did not live, but that they teach in journalism classes. A past that they teach because it should not be repeated, because it went totally against freedom.
In Colombia, censorship has been experienced on many occasions: in the era of "La Violencia", in the dictatorship of Rojas Pinilla, in the rise of drug trafficking and Pablo Escobar. This censorship may not be equal to that of past, but, after all, it ends up censoring.
Not for nothing the big journalism organizations in Colombia have complained about the project, not for nothing the previous law failed, not for nothing countries that have this kind of laws have reacted against.
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez
Translated from "En Colombia peligra el periodismo"