Disinformation and the Current State of Argentina’s Media Market

Disinformation and the Current State of Argentina’s Media Market

  • December 10, 2020

New research from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) shows that nearly two-thirds of the Argentinian news sites in our market sample present a high risk of disinforming their online readers.

These findings are based on analysis of 32 Argentinian news sites (See Figure 1), including some of the highest-traffic and most used sites in the country. 

Figure 1: Media sites assessed in Argentina (in alphabetical order)

Only one site in this study received a low risk rating: site—the regional paper La Voz (See Figure 2). The site scores almost perfectly on all of the content indicators except for the consistent use of bylines. La Voz also had several key operational policies in place including information about its guidelines for user-generated content, a statement of editorial independence, and a clear process for correcting errors—critical factors that set it apart from other sites. 

In Argentina, no site received a rating of minimum disinformation risk. Of the nine countries assessed by GDI to date, Argentina is the second country where no site in the media sample presented minimum risks.

Our analysis found Argentina’s news sites relatively homogenous in terms of the similar disinformation risks which they confront. Overall, many of the risk factors in Argentina come from weak operational transparency and a lack of editorial safeguards, including information on their sources of funding and revenue. Operational and funding transparency are critical to know if there are any potential conflicts of interest between the owners and their news coverage. Editorial safeguards, like ensuring an independent editorial team and newsroom, serve as protections against disinformation narratives from being published. 

 Figure 2: Risk Ratings for Argentinian Media Sites

Nearly a third of the sites showed medium-risk ratings and almost two-thirds of the sites showed a high risk of disinforming their online users.

There are ten sites in Argentina that were rated as medium-risk sites. These sites tended to perform relatively well on the content indicators—especially for lack of clickbait headlines. They also typically hosted unbiased and non-sensational content.

The remaining 21 sites—almost two thirds of our sample—received a high-risk rating. These sites, however, tended to perform moderately well on the content indicators. In fact, many of them show high scores when it comes to publishing content that is timely and relevant and doesn’t negatively target groups. 

Operational policies, however, scored very poorly for these high risk sites. Most of the sites within the high-risk category entirely fail to meet universal standards for editorial and operational policies. Nearly one-half of the media sites in the Argentine sample failed to provide any of the information or policies which are universally associated with good editorial and operational practices as set out by the Journalism Trust Initiative.

In a context of political polarization across the country, economic consolidation within the sector, and decreasing trust in the media, addressing these weaknesses takes on particular urgency.

Figure 3: Average Pillar Score, by Risk Rating

The report applies the GDI methodology for assessing disinformation risk in three areas: the reliability of the site’s content, the site’s operational checks and balances, and how informed online readers perceive the overall context of the sites. 

The overall market risk score across the three pillars for Argentina is 50 (see Figure 3). Argentina is one of 10 countries which will be assessed in 2020 using this methodology.

The report’s findings serve as a roadmap to address the risk areas that were found. Suggested measures include:

  • Focus on adopting journalistic and operational standards as outlined by the Journalism Trust Initiative that increase transparency about overall policies of the site.
  • Encourage sites to clearly publish their sources of funding directly on their page, rather than on a parent company site. 
  • Ensure that sites publish a statement of editorial independence and policies for user- and algorithmically-generated content.
  • Improve and make more visible a site’s correction practices for published errors. It is important that such site corrections are clearly seen and understood, rather than being hidden ‘below the fold’ on a web page.
  • Ensure that sites in Argentina publish bylines. Publishing the identity of the author is an easy way to ensure transparency and accountability. What is more, it gives the audience the opportunity to check whether the author is an actual person or a false identity being used to publish disinformation.

GDI looks forward to working with news sites and media bodies in Argentina  to advance these policies and other actions that will create a solid defense against disinformation risks.

The report can be found here in English and Spanish.

If you are interested in learning more about this study or GDI’s work, please contact us via info@disinformationindex.org.

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