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Colombia: German-Latin American Media Dialogue

How do the German media portray Latin America and vice versa? Journalists representing both regions came together recently to discuss mutual perceptions and Latin American-European relations.

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It was only under police protection that Daniel Coronell could attend the Media Dialogue – a four-day meeting held in Cartagena in November and jointly organized by DW-AKADEMIE, the German Federal Foreign Ministry and the Colombian media foundation, FNPI. Coronell, a Colombian television journalist, exemplified the difficulties that Latin American journalists face.

Participants agreed that except for Cuba, the threat facing journalists no longer comes from authoritarian regimes but from illegal, armed groups, particularly those associated with the drug mafia. Latin America correspondents for German publications such as Peter Burghardt (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and Jens Glüsing (Der Spiegel) said it was difficult to place background and longer reports on the region in the German media, despite the Latin American economic boom and the increased attention German foreign policy is paying to the area.

12.2010 DW-AKADEMIE Medienentwicklung Lateinamerika Kolumbien Mediendialog 01

Eliane Cantanhede from Brazil and Enrique Arosemena from Ecuador

Print journalists Eliane Cantanhede (Folha de Sao Paolo, Brazil) and Pablo Gazzolo (La Tercera, Chile) said the Latin American media, including the largest organizations, have very few foreign correspondents. Still, the coverage of Asia – and particularly China – is increasing compared to the coverage of Europe. The Media Dialogue participants agreed that Latin American countries are clearly strengthening their economic, political and cultural relations with each other whereas Europe, and particularly the U.S., were becoming less important for the region.

“The idea behind the Media Dialogue is for journalists from two different regions to come together,” says DW-AKADEMIE project manager, Matthias Kopp. He had arranged this exchange jointly with the FNPI media foundation, established by Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “Unencumbered by the pressure of daily business, both sides here could discuss topics important to them: the influence of the social media, the way politicians deal with the media, and the need to look at the bigger picture in order to understand one’s own situation,” says Kopp. “And just as important, the Media Dialogue gives participants a unique opportunity to establish personal contacts.”

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