This article argues that state advertising is used as a mean of control over news media in Nicaragua. Kodrich also discusses what constitutes discrimination against newspapers when it comes to the allocation of state advertising, by presenting statistics on circulation and percentage of state advertising each newspaper receives. An example of this would be La Tribuna, a newspaper friendly to the Alemán presidency, which receives the largest allocation of state advertising (32.1%) despite having the lowest circulation ratings. On the other hand, Barricada, which is owned by the opposition party, the Sandinistas (FSLN), only receives 4.4% of state advertising, despite being more widely circulated.
In this article, Kodrich outlines the historical context surrounding freedom of press in Latin America, the tradition of highly-politicized journalism in Nicaragua, and the creation of the newspaper Barricada, and uses statistics throughout to back up his assertions of discrimination against the Barricada. He additionally uses reports from the Committee to Project Journalists, the International Press Institute, and the Inter American Press Association as sources. This offers a greater, more in-depth understanding of the conflict at hand, and the possible consequences that might arise from the Nicaraguan government’s more subdued but no less nefarious methods of controlling the press — such as the future of freedom of speech and democracy in Nicaragua. He also acknowledges the limitations of the Barricada’s allegations of discrimination, such as the way they alienated their audience with overt political bias in the 1990s, which adds strength and legitimacy to his analysis and conclusion that Barricada was discriminated against by the Nicaraguan government.
The author of this article, Kris Kodrich, is an associate professor at Colorado State University. He teaches communications and journalism courses, and has worked as a reporter himself — this gives him a grounded, informed insight into his research, which explores both the behaviors and attitudes of journalists around the world, specifically those located in Latin America.
NICARAGUA. Managua. 1979. Street construction billboard for “Barricada”, the FSLN newspaper. Translation of the phrase on the billboard: “In Barricade is the Revolutionary Truth.” (Susan Meiselas/courtesy Magnum Photo)
I chose this photo to accompany my annotated bibliography piece because it was taken from the year that the Barricada was first published and it was relevant to the topic at hand — discrimination against the Barricada. I also believe that having a picture of the billboard advertising the Barricada would be a way to demonstrate the commercial nature of news media, which this issue inherently revolves around.