Chapultepec Declaration

Chapultepec Declaration 

Chapultepec Declaration

Chapultepec Declaration

As you read the Chapultepec Declaration consider the description of its principles. How do its authors equate press freedom and democracy?

The Chapultepec Declaration: How its Authors Equate Press Freedom and Democracy

The Chapultepec Declaration: How its Authors Equate Press Freedom and Democracy

In 1994, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) held a summit at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The convention sought to promote freedom of the press. What came out of the comprehensive discussion was the Chapultepec Declaration. In it, delegates proclaimed that freedom of expression, inclusive of a free press, was a necessary ingredient in promoting liberty. From the Chapultepec Declaration, there are numerous ways in which its authors equate press freedom and democracy (BBC Monitoring International Reports, 2002).

The declaration’s preamble reads that individuals cannot exercise other forms of freedom if the freedom of press access to information is curbed. When the media operates unobstructed, as the document states, there is the surfacing of courage to ask for information, to disseminate it without restraints, to question it without fear, and to promote free exchange of ideas and views. Members of the public sphere cannot therefore exercise other rights if the freedom of press is held back (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999).

Chapultepec Declaration

The declaration compels authorities to avail in a timely and reasonable fashion the information generated by public offices. In addition, the law permits journalists to conceal their sources of information. What this means is that citizens of any given state need to know how their governments operate if they are to fully benefit from it. The press bridges the knowledge gap between bureaucrats who make decisions on their behalf, and the subjects of that particular state. Any act of corruption and mismanagement of funds by policymakers often go unraveled if the press is barred from access to such information. Timely issue of information, or giving news which is not stale, is more trustworthy thus the need for fresh news. It raises the authenticity of such news stories, making them more credible. For security purposes, journalists should be allowed to hide the identity of sources who desire anonymity, since their lives may be in danger after whistle blowing or revealing the injustices committed by the state (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999).

In a democratic state, hindering press access to information through acts of murder, kidnappings, destruction of their facilities or even intimidating journalists, are counterproductive to the realization of liberty. This is because such harassments scare citizens of any state from accessing information and productively participating in governmental operations.  That is why the declaration recommends the detention and punishment of government officers who do that, since harassing or intimidating journalists encourages impunity (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999).

The declaration adds that prior censorships, restrictions to the circulation of information, and managing of media by authorities are direct ways of infringing on the freedom of press access to information. Imposition of such hindrances by authorities limits liberty, which in turn infringes on the citizen’s rights to be aware of their government’s operations, the injustices committed, and corruption. Citizens at the grassroots level heavily depend on the press for information. Thus barring or restricting journalists’ movements in pursuit of information amounts to the violation of their liberty (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999).

It is unethical and illegal of sources to favor journalists or media houses by means of assigning them radio frequencies, funding their operations or favoring them because of positive news coverage. These deeds lead to the publishing of biased news. Biased news coverage of sources limits citizens’ right to know the truth. For instance, a corrupt source of information may give journalists gifts so as to hide the truth from public notice. That is an act which hampers liberty (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999).

The credibility of the press correlates with its commitment to reporting factual information, being accurate, fair and objective. In the absence of such principles, the press is seen as biased. Journalists should therefore be able to distinguish news from advertizing. To report advertisements as news would be to encourage publicity of such organizations thus infringement of liberty (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999). Furthermore, the act insulates journalists from being punished by the state as a result of unraveling the truth. When journalists fear for their lives, they cannot unveil injustices and acts corruption committed by the ruling class (Mark & Fitzgerald, 1999).

Chapultepec Declaration

All said, the Chapultepec Declaration will forever be remembered in the field of development journalism. For it has provided the impetus for exercising other rights, otherwise unattainable. Thus the most basic way of distinguishing democracy from autocracy is press access to information.
                                                                   References

BBC Monitoring International Reports. (2002, May). St. Kits and Nevis signs Chapultepec 

Declaration. BBC Monitoring International Reports, 1-2. Retrieved Oct 2, 2012, from 

http://www.ebscohost.com

Mark, Fitzgerald. (1999). Declaration of Chapultepec. Journal of Communication, Journalism, 

            Printing, Advertizing and Public Relations, 132 (18) 1-2. Retrieved Oct 2, 2012, from 

http://search.proquest.com/docview/194311250?accountid=45049

Chapultepec Declaration

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