Chávez’s Aló Presidente and its Impact on Venezuela’s Journalistic Practice

A Research Paper by Ed Bracho-Polanco, published by Iberoamericana

As Venezuela’s leader, Hugo Chávez utilized the media intensively and innovatively to boost his radical political project. The broadcast talk-show Aló Presidente became the most important component of his communication strategy, followed by his use of blanket broadcast messages. Chávez’s flagship program subverted liberal tenets, and has to this day served as a template in Latin America for populist communication. This study examined the ways Venezuelan journalists and media professionals have understood Chávez’s hyper-mediatic leadership –with special emphasis on Aló Presidente– and the impact the program and the official blanket messages had on their practice. A wide array of journalists, media practitioners, and commentators were interviewed about their views regarding Chávez’s media strategies and Aló Presidente, and tensions arising between different ideals of normative journalistic practice. Opinions among local journalists about the above-mentioned issues, this study found, are divided within a highly-polarized frame. And normative media ideals of liberal trends were challenged by pro-Chávez journalists, while an important faction of media professionals maintained that such practices are non-democratic.

 

Resumen

En calidad de líder de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez utilizó los medios comunicacionales de manera intensa e innovadora, para así promover su radical proyecto político. El programa televisivo Aló Presidente llegó a convertirse en el componente más importante de su estrategia comunicacional, seguido del uso de sus ‘cadenas’ audiovisuales. Este programa insignia de Chávez subvertía ideales liberales, y hasta el día de hoy funciona como un modelo de comunicación populista en América Latina. El presente estudio examina las formas en las que periodistas y profesionales de medios venezolanos entienden el liderazgo híper-mediático de Chávez –con especial énfasis en Aló Presidente– y el impacto que dicho programa y los mensajes ‘en cadena’ han ejercido en su oficio. Una amplia gama de periodistas, profesionales y comentaristas de medios fueron entrevistados sobre sus opiniones en relación a las estrategias mediáticas de Chávez, Aló Presidente, y las tensiones que surgen entre variados ideales sobre la práctica de periodismo normativo. El estudio revela que las opiniones de los periodistas locales sobre los asuntos arriba mencionados se dividen dentro de un marco de alta polarización. Igualmente, los ideales mediáticos normativos de tendencias liberales son desafiados por periodistas pro–Chávez, al tiempo que una facción importante de profesionales de medios sostiene que tales prácticas son anti-democráticas.

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Ed Bracho-Polanco

About Ed Bracho-Polanco

Ed Bracho-Polanco is a lecturer in the Communication and Media Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster. He also has 17 years of experience as tri-media journalist and editor. His research interests include media and democracy, sociology of media practice and journalism, representation in the media and in popular culture.

Details

Author
Ed Bracho-Polanco
Date
7 October 2020
Published By
Iberoamericana
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