Participatory Journalism in Managua

In most contemporary countries, when a society undergoes some sort of social and political change, the alterations imposed upon a country are now challenged or criticized by a form of participatory journalism. Participatory or activist journalism is another form of media that reflects over the mainstream mass media culture, criticizing its effect on a cultural, social, and political level, leaving aside any form of manipulation from higher mass media organizations.

Not all countries however, share this form of advanced perk in technological instruments. An example of a country where many forms of social change occur is Nicaragua; where nowadays many of its political successions have undergone plenty of manipulations by the communist Sandinista party. The country has an extensive lack of technological ailments that would allow many of the citizens to be informed. As a a third world country, not all its citizens are informed but those mainly in the capital of Managua.

Given the country’s lack of rational and contemplative communication or distribution of news (for most of the cable signal channels and news outlets available are owned by the communist party), many choose to do nothing. It is inevitable for many few in the arts of the journalistic field to stand back and be pacific or neutral, though many could face the danger of government threats. An example of participatory and activist journalism in this country would be the online news sources of  “The Nicaragua Dispatch” by Tim Rogers, an American journalist, and “Confidencial” by Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro.

Recently Nicaragua suffered a recent incident due to an unpaid and promised elderly pension. A small protest of the elderly was stationed outside the Social Security offices, peacefully chanting to be paid. College students joined as well, believing that the elderly were a great example to the community in protesting for this right. The National Police of the city, became involved in the protest, and attempted to remove the elderly from the protests, going as far as to placing them in rooms and refusing to give them food. Around 4 am Friday June 23rd, after a music festival sponsored by local musicians and students, a band of paid communists known as the “Sandinista Youth” (with secret orders from “high above) threatened to kill the students, and in the process stripping them off their clothes, stealing their cars, ID’s, and cellphones. The students ran and sought protection in the local Cathedral of the city. Once removing the college students, the mob men removed their masks and pretended to protest peacefully as if they were the ones defending the elderly. As this happened, the police watched. Accounts and pictures show that both men and women clung to the knees of the police officers, asking to help them and chase after the hooded men.

The country’s reaction to the available and physical proof was astounding, for many refused to believe the pictures of abuse were real, manipulated by some form of Photoshop. It is quite comical to me, for it seems that the country is quite unable to keep up with its changing society, and blame it on alleged “right-wing brainwashers”.

The government suddenly turned on its citizens, for they saw that many protested against the country’s inability to pay the pensions, or their desire not to do so. All paid workers of the Social Security offices were lectured extensively the next day, saying that the people involved were being manipulated by a “right-wing force” and were threatening the country’s safety. The lecture went on saying that most of the elderly did not achieve all the amount of hours to be paid the pension and could not qualify for it. The Social Secutiry offices were to turn against anyone who held these beliefs, they instructed, for they were attempting to contort the government’s actions.

Tim Rogers and Carlos Fernando Chamorro have since attempted to promote the concept of free speech in Nicaragua. Tim Rogers, by providing English articles for foreigners and English speakers in Nicaragua to be informed as well. Carlos Fernando Chamorro continues to provide the news in the country’s native language, Spanish. These two forms of activist journalism truly help the country, for they are truly divergent sources of analysis. Nowhere it is seen a piece of rational and interactive analysis concerning the decisions made until now. Although much of the information is now online, it allows for news to spread willfully and easily without the government’s interference. They both shed light into the political and economic decisions made by the government, and often-unquestioned before due to the lack of communication technology or availability of it.

Sites:

The Nicaragua Dispatch:  http://www.nicaraguadispatch.com/

Confidencial:  confidencial.com.ni

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