IAPA to review anti-free press practices in the Americas at midyear meeting in Barbados

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MIAMI, USA (IAPA) — Direct censorship in Venezuela, spying in the United States, advertising discrimination in Argentina, obstacles to access information in the Caribbean, fines on media in Ecuador and legal prosecution of journalists in Brazil are some of the actions contrary to press freedom taken in several countries of the Americas that will be reviewed during the Midyear Meeting of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) in Barbados April 4-7.

The Committee of Freedom of the Press and Information will meet on Saturday, April 5 to begin a country by country review of the state of freedom of the press and as part of its activities, it has organized thematic panels.

At midday a discussion titled “Venezuela In Crisis: Journalists Speak” will focus on the acts of censorship, attacks and restrictions being imosed on journalists and press workers as part of an official strategy and in the framework of the violence brought about by social protests.

The panel discussion will have the perspective of Claudia Gurisatti, director of the international television channel NTN24 censored in Venezuela, and Jorge Luis Sierra, a Mexican journalist specializing in issues of security and defense and a Knight International Journalism Fellow, who will be accompanied by Antonio Ledezma, the metropolitan mayor of Caracas.

Scheduled for that day is a dialogue on “The Problems of American Press Freedom” featuring Anders Gyllenhaal, news vice president and editor in Washington, D.C. of McClatchy Newspapers, and Bill Roberts, editor of the op-ed page of The Durango Herald, Durango, Colorado, who among other issues will discuss telephone wiretapping, restrictions on the flow of information, secrecy and limitations to accessing official activities of the United States Presidency.

The IAPA has also organized a special panel discussion that will look into the new system of regulating the British press, the Royal Charter, brought about following a scandal of illegal wiretapping by the tabloid News of the World in the United Kingdom. Anthony Lester, a specialist in public law and human rights with the organization The Odysseus Trust of London; Christopher Barnes, managing director of the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, and Diego Cornejo, executive director of the Ecuadorean Association of Newspaper Editors (AEDEP) will explain the problem and the effects of this action on the English-speaking Caribbean and in other nations of the Americas.

For Sunday, April 6 a roundtable discussion on media concentration and the role of the government will take place with Asdrúbal Aguiar of the Venezuelan newspaper El Impulso; Edward Seaton, Seaton Newspapers, Manhattan, Kansas, and Santiago Cantón, director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Washington, D.C.

The IAPA meeting will bring together representatives of newspapers, reporters and editors. During the four-day event they will also have educational seminars on trends and new strategies of the news industry.

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