State censorship of the press in competitive authoritarian regimes : a case study of Venezuela under Chavismo (1999-2016)
- Censorship is not what it used to be. Indeed, during the 21st century we have witnessed a noticeable evolution in the way governments try to curtail free speech, by heavily relying on new and sophisticated technologies and using 'softer' and 'indirect' methods. Simultaneously, as noticed by experts, the world is experiencing a democratic set-back, with authoritarian incumbents gaining power in every region of the world, which includes countries with longstanding democratic tradition and others which until now had been considered stable liberal democracies. The combination of these two phenomena presents a novel and serious risk for press freedom in the world, one which requires an updated understanding of this topic in order to be better equipped to resist it. In this regard, this project has two general objectives: Firstly, by using semi-structured interviews with journalists working for private media outlets in Venezuela, it takes and empirical approach (with an embedded case study design) to understand whether and, if so, how elected authoritarian regimes (of the 'competitive authoritarian' type) are censoring independent media outlets today. Secondly, by further focusing on three case studies of private news outlets (as sub-units of analysis), it gives and in-depth view of how the measures enforced by the State have actually generated both censorship and rampant self-censorship amongst journalists. The main argument I offer is that these new techniques, enforced by these 21st century authoritarians, though softer, more nuanced and usually crafted and applied within the legal system, are equally pervasive and especially efficient in generating a chilling effect amongst the media. Indeed, as the data gathered for this study has shown, harassment, intimidation and the manipulation of the legal system, as techniques designed and applied in an orchestrated fashion by State organs, can gradually cause confusion and fear amongst journalists which will in turn generate censorship; therefore, fulfilling the goal of authoritarian regimes to silence critics. It follows then that authoritarians, by acting in a more sophisticated fashion, have found new ways to crack down on the free press, without suffering the political costs traditionally associated with said anti-democratic tactics. This study focuses in Venezuela as a case study of this phenomenon, which is also prevalent today in other competitive authoritarian regimes such as Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Nicaragua. Though general extrapolations of the findings of this study cannot be made, these elected authoritarians tend to follow the same script with regards to how they behave vis-à-vis the press, with Venezuela now being considered a quintessential example of how dissent is silenced by elected authoritarians. As we observe how populism and authoritarian trends are dangerously gaining new territory, and how the relationship between the independent press and incumbents becomes increasingly more hostile, it is imperative to understand the new reality captured in the present study.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Núñez Machado, Ana Cristina
|Stanford University, School of Law JSD.
|Martinez, Jenny S
|Martinez, Jenny S
|Statement of responsibility
|Ana Cristina Núñez Machado.
|Submitted to the School of Law.
|Thesis (JSD)--Stanford University, 2017.
- © 2017 by Ana Cristina Nunez Machado
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