By: Koryn DelPrince, Jackson Elliott, Jack Barsch, Alex Willie
After many days researching how Argentina’s troubled past has affected the role of media and entertainment in it’s country, we have found some very interesting results. With the infamous past involving the Dirty War, we were expecting to see slight suppression of the freedom of the many newspapers and websites based in Buenos Aires, especially with the presidential election coming up soon. We kept an eye out for political advertising on the streets and on the television (as shown to the left), but were amazed at how minimal the campaigning was compared to the United States. What little posters and billboards we saw were subtle and unobtrusive.
Luckily, we had the opportunity to listen to Jorge Sosa, Chief Editor and Online Manager of El Cronista in Buenos Aires. By listening to Sosa, we were able to learn more about this topic from an inside view from the media here in Argentina and to ask questions about what we had noticed in Buenos Aires. Sosa talked about the role that the Argentine media or, more specifically, El Cronista, plays in the greater scheme, as well as the upcoming election. Below is an example of one of the campaign ads we saw across the city of Buenos Aires.
Sosa elaborated on how the Dirty War factors into the current media and political landscape. Surprisingly, he said that Argentina’s most notorious incident currently does not play a part in the upcoming electoral race, and it has not hindered El Cronista’s efforts in connecting with the Argentine public in recent years. However, he did say that Argentina, and Latin America as a whole, are less trusting than many other citizens of the world, and the governmental upheaval in the last half-century has certainly played a part in that. Sosa also said that the newspaper is very much a part of their culture, and while print may be “going out of style”; he expects that El Cronista will continue to survive in this digital world, online and in physical copies. Mr. Sosa mentioned that in order to keep the website of his newspaper profitable, they would most likely have to switch to a pseudo-subscription model, similar to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Not only did our group learn valuable information about media in Argentina through Mr. Sosa, but also through visiting and touring the city. The group noticed how little on street advertising there was, and this fit with the larger cultural difference in general, which seems to be balance of life. We also noticed the overwhelming influence of soccer in the entertainment and media industries. The marketing manager for River Plate, Luis Nogaro, talked about the insane amount of market power and attention that his team, and the fact that many advertising agencies and media outlets were willing to service the club free of charge. The entertainment industry revolves around the sport, much like many other aspects of life in Buenos Aires. Overall, we found out that our specific topic, The Dirty War, was not nearly as prevalent as we thought on the outset, though it still affects the mindset of the citizens. The media and entertainment industry as a whole is also not as aggressive as their counterpart in the United States, and that fit the overall trend of cultural differences between the countries.
When we came to Argentina, we were expecting there to be a lingering strong distrust in the government as well as a suppressed media presence due to the influence on the public from the Dirty War. As we were walking around in the first three days, we did not notice any advert signs that would clearly indicate the situation that we believed we would see here in Buenos Aires. So we asked Jorge Sosa from El Cronista about how the public views the news sources and if there is any distrust between the citizens and the government still present because of the Dirty War. To our amazement, he said that there was little to almost no presence of censorship within the media, neither in print nor online. This was the opposite of what we thought the situation would be as the Dirty War was such a major event that changed the relationship between the government and the people. However, this is great for the government as well as the public as they are building a relationship that is getting stronger by the year. Looking at this topic from a media perspective, this building trust between the media and news sources means that companies don’t have to change their methods of advertising, or overall business structure in order to bypass the original connotation of the public not trusting the news and media.
Argentina is special due to the unique history of both the Dirty War and economic fluctuations. Because of these events, there is an inherent distrust in establishment, making it difficult for newspapers to gain customer loyalty. Media is also different in Argentina because of its relaxed culture. Argentines are considerably less rushed and busy than the average American, where productivity is priority number one. Printed news is considered wasted time in the United States and digital news has almost completely replaced print. In Argentina however, taking slow mornings and relaxing with a newspaper is the norm, leaving the print market alive. On top of this, print is the only form of media that is not censored by the various censorship organizations present in the Argentine media network, so customers are more likely to use this as their main source of media, as it’s the most trustworthy of all the other sources. Because of this, print is the most popular form of news in Argentina, which is starkly different than the United States. We could visibly see this difference with the active presence of newspaper stands and even just the amount of people seen reading newspapers in coffee shops. Also, the presence of soccer culture in Argentina is unique and lends itself to the way that political candidates campaign. Because every Argentine is watching soccer, the official political campaigning is done during the games. Argentina is certainly special, mostly because of the history of the dirty war and underperforming government, but in reality it is not different in any really stark ways.
A large part of what makes Argentinian media and entertainment unique is the Dirty War and how it affected the psyche and actions of the people. However, from the multiple company visits we had while in Buenos Aires, we gathered that a lot of the companies, including El Cronista, have moved past the Dirty War as well as the citizenship as a whole. As the editor of one of the largest media outlets in the country, his opinion carries more weight than most, and we feel confident that the uniqueness (the Dirty War) has been or will not be in the forefront of people’s minds. Mr. Sosa, claimed that the checkered past does not affect either print or internet media, which was to our surprise as we thought there would still be trust issues between the citizens and the media because of such a violent, unjust past. While we walked around the city, we did not see any presence of the Dirty War via campaign ads or posters around the city. We did not hear anything about the Dirty War in any campaigns from the upcoming election, as we were confident we would at least see some trace of the unfortunate past of Argentina.
Although we originally had a biased opinion, assuming the Dirty War greatly impacted the lives and media of Argentina today, we noticed that this was not necessarily the case. As time passes, we believe, especially after talking to tech-oriented companies like Globant, that Argentina will thrive in a technology oriented society. This became our new opinion of the media world in Argentina, less focused on the Dirty War, and more focused on technology. The country is beginning to flourish in the tech-world and this will only continue. That being said, we expect there to be more digital media prints relevant. Although we believe there will be more digital media prints available and used, we do not believe that Argentinians are willing to give up their “culture” of reading the paper in the morning; Just like they are not willing to give up their love for soccer or relaxed life styles. As we consider the uniqueness of Argentina’s media, we believe that the country will continue to be unique in a cultured sense, but slowly transition into a globalized society, similar to the innovative United States.