This panel aims to discuss the role of the media in 21st century Latin America against the backdrop of political and popular demands for broader democratization. Examples will be drawn from a variety of perspectives, such as media discourse, media systems and journalistic practices.
Habermas believes that the public sphere is a social dimension that mediates between state and society, enabling citizens to take over the reins of public opinion. In this public sphere, the media appear as a core element, connecting the citizen's ideas in a shared space of public debate, managing information and communication flows, and putting them to work in the public interest. In a context of mediatized politics and politicized media, Latin American young democracies have been debating the central role of the media in strengthening the public sphere. These debates has acquired both political and technological dimensions. First, the recent wave of left-wing governments in the region are attempting to refound Latin America's rusty media systems, putting them at the service of popular interest. Second, the democratizing role of new media and citizen journalism are opening a window between the polarized media oligopoly held by markets and governments. As a result, the voice of the people has gained terrain in the public sphere, watching over public interest. However, striking obstacles remain, such as media over-regulation, governmental influence over content and ownership, tightly knit relations with big corporations or unequal internet access, to mention just a few. In this panel, we aim to debate the new political and public pressures that are pushing Latin American media, at least discursively, closer to achieve their democratic duty of serving the public interest. Examples will be drawn from a variety of perspectives, such as media discourse, media systems or journalistic practices.