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The impact of the press on good governance

Unlike radio and television broadcasting or the Internet, the written press provides more detailed analysis of the news. It thus serves as a “ guide for citizens and authorities to attain good governance,” said the President of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), Alejandro Miró Quesada. Speaking at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC, the Peruvian journalist and lawyer discussed the relationship between journalism and governance in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Miró Quesada highlighted the need for the media to denounce corruption, uphold ethical standards, defend democracy, support good governance and improve the standard of living for the population through transparency and ethics based on such principals as plurality, truth, equity and independence.

According to Miró Quesada, who is editor-in-chief of the Peruvian daily El Comercio , “the mission to defend democracy and good governance often requires criticizing bad decisions or reporting crimes.” He also argued that investigative journalism must be thorough. “Journalists must be willing to courageously confront the powerful—be they politicians, economic powerhouses or even organized crime—as well as to acknowledge mistakes and properly correct them.”

“In a populist environment, it takes determination for the media to defend democratic institutions,” noted Miró Quesada. Desperation to solve what are often critical problems may lead citizens to be content with short-sighted solutions and democratic shortcuts that often drag down the media, he warned. Thus, it is critical that the media firmly support democratic principles.

However, he cautioned that supporting the authorities in attaining good governance in order to raise the standard of living does not mean a political endorsement of the current administration. Rather, the press should help citizens demand accountability from the government.

For example, Miró Quesada suggested, the press can "promote a clear, pluralistic debate on a bill in the newspapers, criticize economic mismanagement, based on facts and new information, or analyze the impact of the country's external relations, applauding or criticizing it."

In Latin America and the Caribbean, “the role of the written press in government oversight is all the more critical for society as this medium often is the only such force in the absence of solid institutions,” Miró Quesada concluded.