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Encouraging ethical discussion as part of the normal editorial process, fortifying self-regulation of Argentinian media

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Approved budget: 
US$15 000.00

In 2006, the Forum for Argentine Journalism (FOPEA), a nationwide grouping of independent journalists, adopted the country’s first comprehensive ethics code. This is an important step given that journalists in Argentina face constant challenges to the delivery of balanced news reports. However, many FOPEA members have had difficulty understanding how to apply the code. FOPEA therefore proposes to produce a user’s guide and ethics advisory council, both of which will help journalists and media companies address ethical dilemmas. The code will encourage self-regulation, while the advisory council will respond to requests for assistance in dealing with ethical problems and will occasionally make public statements to promote public debate on specific ethical challenges. 

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Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA)
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FOPEA was founded in 2002 by a small group on the belief that journalists could best contribute to Argentina´s reborn democracy by improving the quality of their work. Since the organization has grown constantly in size and at the same time has achieved a high level of public recognition. Today FOPEA has almost 400 dues paying members spread out across all of Argentina´s provinces. The organization has defined its mission as promoting the usage of ethical considerations in news production, improving the quality of journalism and defending freedom of expression. In 2006 it formulated and approved the nation´s first comprehensive, cross-media, code of ethics. The following year it began monitoring the state of freedom of expression in Argentina, producing an annual report on attacks against journalist. In 2013 FOPEA was summoned by the commission on freedom of expression of the Argentine Congress to report its findings on 2012 and answer the questions of legislators. Fopea also was used as a reference by the U.S. State Department in its annual human rights report and by the special rapporteur on freedom of expression of the Organization of American States. FOPEA is headed by a 12-member board of directors, elected by the members. Fabio Ladetto of the La Gaceta de Tucuman newspaper from the province of Tucuman, is the current president, and the third president since Fopea´s founding. The administrative staff includes an executive director, a person responsible for the freedom of expression monitor, an administrative assistant and a web specialist. A legal advisor and a fund raiser, working pro bono, complete the structure. FOPEA has received financial support from a broad range of organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Foundations, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the British embassy, the Dutch embassy, the U.S. embassy, Avina, the University of Palermo and many more. It is headquartered in an office in downtown Buenos Aires. Fopea also is a member of IFEX.

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Av. Corrientes 2241, Piso 4to. Oficina C, Ciudad de Buenos Aires

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UNESCO Field Office:

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Andrés D´Alessandro, Executive Director:

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Follow-up and achievments
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Overall, the project had a high public profile and level of participation, at least within the journalistic and academic communities. This public effort was kicked off with the initial keynote speech of Dr. Hugo Aznar, professor of Ethics of Communication of the University Cardinal Herrera of Spain, at the Annual Congress of FOPEA, attended by some 350 journalists, students of journalism and professors of journalism. Aznar’s visit was leveraged to give additional value to meetings with publishers and news editors. Over the life of the project more than 20 lengthy interviews were carried out with leading members of the journalistic community. An internal team investigated the approach taken in other countries in relation to the constitution of councils, with different types of oversight in relation to how to enforce or provide guidance in relation to the use of ethical guidelines. An in-depth survey on the role of ethical considerations in newsrooms was conducted over a month in early 2015, involving 455 journalists from throughout Argentina. The formulation of the survey was itself the result of lengthy sessions, attended by a group of academics and the chief survey specialist, responsible for heading the team that conducted the survey. It led to a 41-page PowerPoint report, detailing the characteristics of the population surveyed as well as a detailed analysis on the viewpoints of the journalists in relation to the ethical landscape in newsrooms across the country. Representatives of academia, newspaper publishers associations, advertisers and journalists attended a round-table discussion in Buenos Aires to analyze the outcome of the survey and to debate the best way forward. Additional discussion was carried out within the context of FOPEA`s annual Digital Congress, staged in Congress in May 2015. While overall the schedule of the public discussions suffered some modifications due conflicts between the project’s initial timetable and the final launch date, the overall extent and reach of the goal of reaching a broad and diverse group of stakeholders was achieved.