Honduras’s one-sided media

The world media has been full of accounts and opinions about the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. But inside his own country, it’s a different story. In Honduras, some of the most popular and influential television stations and radio networks blacked out coverage or adhered to the de facto government’s line that Manuel Zelaya’s ...

583743_090710_honduras5.jpg
583743_090710_honduras5.jpg

The world media has been full of accounts and opinions about the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. But inside his own country, it’s a different story.

In Honduras, some of the most popular and influential television stations and radio networks blacked out coverage or adhered to the de facto government’s line that Manuel Zelaya’s overthrow was not a coup but a legal “constitutional substitution,” press freedom advocates and Honduran journalists said.

Meanwhile, soldiers raided the offices of radio and TV stations loyal to Zelaya, shutting down their signals. Alejandro Villatoro, 52, the owner of Radio Globo, said soldiers broke down doors and dismantled video surveillance cameras.

“They grabbed me and put me face down and put six rifles on me, with a foot on my back holding me down,” he said. “It was like I was a common criminal.”

Such allegations underscore the one-sided nature of the news that has been served up to Hondurans during the crisis. According to results of a Gallup poll published here Thursday, 41 percent of Hondurans think the ouster was justified, with 28 opposed to it.

Global Post’s Ioan Grillo was on top of this story earlier this week, and also notes that some of the biggest commercial networks didn’t need any help dumping on Zelaya, as they have been at war with him for a long time. In addition:

[T]he media battle over the Honduras coup also reflects larger news-related issues as leftist governments have risen to power in the region.

Longstanding commercial networks controlled by wealthy families have often had head-on collisions with leftist leaders, who accuse them of undermining their governments.

In reaction, business interests accuse stations controlled by leftist presidents of demonizing the rich and dividing nations along class lines.

“The media across Latin America has become much more polarized in recent years. There is more of an atmosphere of saying, “You have to be with us or against us,” said Elan Reyes, president of Honduras’ journalist association.

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

James Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.

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