The Media Politics of Latin America’s Leftist Governments

Philip Kitzberger

Abstract


Does Latin America’s left turn matter in media politics? Has ideology any impact on governments’ practices and policies regarding media and journalistic institutions? This essay focuses on the existence of a specific kind of media activism on the part of leftist governments in Latin America. It does so by assessing discourses on the media, direct-communication practices, and media regulation policies. While showing that the current binary distinctions stressing the existence of two lefts – “populist” and “nonpopulist” – obscure important commonalities and continuities, the author demonstrates that institutional and structural constraints account for the differences among the various leftist governments in Latin America. In sum, the paper challenges the prevailing neglect of ideology as a relevant factor in explaining developments in government–media relationships in the region.

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