"The press is plural - it represents all the political parties": media access for the transitional justice campaign during democratisation in Uruguay (1989-2012)

Pearson, Bethia Jane (2017) "The press is plural - it represents all the political parties": media access for the transitional justice campaign during democratisation in Uruguay (1989-2012). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of media democratisation in post-authoritarian societies. Since the return to democracy across Latin America, research has yielded important insights into normative expectations of the media during democratisation, and country case studies have highlighted the diversity of contexts for analysis. Long-standing obstacles to media democracy in the region have not been overcome by democratisation. However, there has been little attention to exploring whether media access for civil society actors – and, so, internal plurality of the media – improves over the process of democratisation and what factors influence this.

Based on a content analysis of newspaper coverage of major strategies of the campaign for transitional justice in Uruguay spanning from 1989 to 2012 and 16 interviews with journalists and civil society actors, this thesis draws three main conclusions. Firstly, it concludes that there is not a progressive increase in the quantity or quality of media access for civil society actors and this is principally due to the contingency of media access upon both journalistic routines and broader shifts associated with the process of democratisation including the return to “politics as usual” and increasing market competition. It further concludes that transitional justice campaigns face considerable obstacles in gaining media access to further their strategic ends, due to the way in which the media follows the mainstream political and public agenda during democratisation, and low levels of quality of access. Finally, it makes a methodological contribution in its mixed methods approach, which embraces the debate of de-Westernisation in media scholarship. This multi-faceted approach to researching media access reveals the way in which inequalities in media access cannot be divorced from wider power relations in society.

Overall, the thesis argues that the lack of media access for civil society actors constitutes a significant and ongoing problem for the deepening of democracies in Latin America. To this end, the thesis supports a more radical account of media democratisation which incorporates a greater normative duty to represent civil society groups, particularly given the dominance of hegemonic, state-led narratives in pacted transitions. This should inform the way in which media policy is approached during democratic transitions and provide impetus for the current push for civil society-led media reform movements in the region. In addition to this, the thesis indicates the need for further and broader research into media coverage of transitional justice campaigns and mechanisms in different contexts and in comparison with other human rights issues.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Media democratisation, Uruguay, media pluralism, human rights, media, Latin America, transitional justice.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Supervisor's Name: Langer, Dr Ana Ines and Hume, Dr Mo
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Bethia Jane Pearson
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-9081
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 May 2018 14:03
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2018 12:56
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/9081

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