Miley destroys Telam, South America’s last major news agency

In the early hours of this Monday, police surrounded the headquarters of the public news agency Telem in the center of Buenos Aires and more than 700 workers received an email with a one-week “work exemption”. In the morning the portal stopped working. This was a devastating execution of the declaration made by Xavier Miley on the night of Friday, March 1, during the annual speech at the opening of the legislative session, when he targeted Telam because it was used “for Kirchnerist propaganda.”

Thus, the last major news agency in South America and one of the last in Latin America reached its clear end point, following the closure of Notimex, which was accomplished in 2023 by decision of the Latin American presidency, Which is considered as a far-right opposition to Argentina. On the right, Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The legality of Miley’s act is in question, as the 1974 law on “state companies” establishes that their liquidation must also be carried out by law, and the ruling party, La Libertad Avanza, does not have a majority in both houses. Congress. The omnibus bill and the megadecree of necessity and urgency introduced by the government, which simultaneously seeks to change a few thousand laws, had set the goal of shutting down the news agency, but the legality of both decrees still remains to be seen. .

The presidential spokesman, Manuel Adorni, confirmed Telm’s definite dismissal on Monday morning and announced that the Argentine government would analyze this week how to accomplish it. The official strategy will be fought through judicial and union channels by the workers, who organized a crowded protest and gathering at the agency’s doors on Monday afternoon.

due to excess

“We are going to shut down Tellum, which has been used as a Kirchnerist propaganda agency in recent decades,” Miley said in front of deputies and senators on Friday. Conservative PRO led by former President Mauricio Macri.

If organizations advance feminist or human rights policies, Miley’s anger multiplies, especially among her followers on networks and in the media.

In this way, Miley raised his central argument which leads to the closure of institutions, state secretariats, public companies and social programs. The thesis of the anarcho-capitalists is that the state is a “criminal organization” and, in particular, those offices of cultural and symbolic dedication, such as Telum or the National Institute against Discrimination – which they also announced would be closed – “Condemned as “caves of preaching.” If organizations advance feminist or human rights policies, Miley’s viciousness multiplies, especially among her followers on networks and in the media.

Cruelly, the spokesman for Adorni, a newcomer to journalism who earned his spot on Twitter for his corrosiveness, tweeted, “Say hello to Tellum who’s leaving.”

place of telam

A few minutes after Miley’s phrase was spoken before the Legislative Assembly, Tellum neatly typed a teletype bringing about his own end. During the weekend, the agency published several texts with the government’s arguments, responses, reviews of its great milestones and its national and international reach. None of it is accessible today, as the portal was replaced by a sign announcing “Under reconstruction” and the news service ceased broadcasting.

Telam was founded on April 14, 1945, so it was about to turn 79. Its latest workforce reached 760 workers, 27 correspondents in Argentina and four abroad (Chile, Brazil, United Kingdom and Rome), for a service originating in text, which in recent years has increased in audiovisual media and Was expanded into digital languages.

“The agency was born with the aim of obtaining the majority of information and reaching out to a large country where other media could not due to lack of interest or budget. And, fundamentally, break the informational and ideological monopoly. In the 1940s, information was dominated by the American agencies United Press International (UPI) and Associated Press (AP),” Alejandro Di Giacomo, head of the Spanish service of the Italian agency ANSA, told Told the Chairman of. Association of Foreign Correspondents in Argentina.

Tellum’s latest workforce reached 760 workers, 27 correspondents in Argentina and four abroad (Chile, Brazil, United Kingdom and Rome).

The agency has been a historical school of journalism, although it was also subject to political use by democratic presidents and dictatorships, as it never managed to become a fully non-governmental public service.

What no one doubts, even the media that supports the closure of Miley and the agency, is that it has a remarkable professional body, and in some key sections such as police, culture and sports, it has Has a remarkable informative leadership. ,

Above all, Telum, as the largest information structure in Argentina, supplies about 500 teletypes per day to its 803 subscribers, according to records from official sources published by journalist Irina Sternik in her Lado B newsletter .

“I wonder who will provide information to those small media outlets in the far north or far south. Or who will spread information about La Quiaca (Bolivian border) or Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) so that it becomes known to the rest of the country,” Di Giacomo said.

The veteran editor agreed that, “Of course, its role and operations could be improved, but dismantling the agency is seriously harming the information process.”

media backed off

There are only a few Argentine media outlets with delegations and correspondents throughout the country. The main Radio National, with about 60 stations, is also the center of attraction for Miley. Next comes the private radio station Cadena Tres from the province of Córdoba, and next, in descending order, the newspapers Clarin, La Nación, the news channels TN (from Clarin), C5N (from Grupo Indalo), La Nación. +, America 24 and the leftist Peronist newspaper Pagina 12. In almost all of them, a flexible contractual arrangement for correspondents is prevalent.

I wonder who will spread the information about La Quiaca (Bolivian border) or Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) so that it becomes known to the rest of the country.

Some of these media have journalists in half a dozen countries, but recently they stopped covering casualties and some moved into cooperation regimes.

Mexican Notimex was 55 years old and had about 300 employees at the time of its closure. In the rest of Latin America, there are state or quasi-state agencies, such as the Boliviana de Información (created in 1996), the Peruvian Andina (1981), the Venezolana de Noticias (2010) and the Agência Brasil (1990). None of them have the deployment, scope or influence of Telam. Agência Brasil has 70 employees, spread across four offices across that vast country.

Cuba’s historic Prensa Latina reports on its website that it has delegations in 32 cities around the world, although its weight has largely diminished compared to its splendor between the 1960s and 1980s.

The staff of Tellum, consisting of more than 750 professionals, a large part of them dedicated to the information service and a minority to the administration of official advertising, is numerically close to agencies like the German DPA, the French AFP, the Italian ANSA or . Spanish EFE. However, they all provide a global service, with delegations in dozens of countries. The contrast with Tellum is quite obvious.

Kirchner and Macri’s use

The data is an indication that the agency did not provide service of the expected quality and coverage. Just as its solidity in certain informational aspects is undeniable, so is the fact that it accumulated layers of professionals whose admission or promotion followed partisan criteria, not journalistic ones. Strong union action and a law with strict clauses prevented those who did not work from separation, the verification of which is evident among the majority of working employees.

With the governments of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner (2003–2015), Tellum gained resources and deployment, but in political and economic coverage it entered polarization to counter the Clarín-led opposition media groups. In those years – especially when the La Cámpora organization led by his son Máximo Kirchner took power – the stigma grew that the agency was a propaganda organ, even though grassroots service remained in force. What remains in the memory of many editors for the Kirchners is the lack of coverage of bad news and absurd misrepresentations in headlines.

McCree (2015-2019) tried to achieve what Miley seems to be achieving now. About 360 journalists received dismissal telegrams in 2018, while the leadership appointed a select few to a parallel editorial team. The measure was overturned by labor courts and two-thirds of those laid off agreed to return.

Mariana García, deputy director of EldiarioAR, who spent more than two decades at Clarín and five years at Tellum, wrote that the intention of the president appointed during the Macri government was to displace EFE from the leadership of Spanish-speaking agencies, but management did not do so. The level of clumsiness reached the limit, when a purge was conducted, valuable editors and editors were fired, and many geological layers with political connections retained their privileges.

McCree (2015-2019) tried to achieve what Miley seems to be achieving now. About 360 journalists received dismissal telegrams in 2018, while the leadership appointed a select few to a parallel editorial team

The architect of that attempt to destroy Telm was Macrista Hernán Lombardi, who would be behind this new invasion. At the moment, he celebrated it on social networks. “Telem must be closed down, it never changed its role as a government propaganda agency”He tweeted.

This phrase seems defamatory and unfair to the hundreds of journalists who are on the verge of losing their jobs, but at least it is consistent with the agency cables that have made headlines with years of evaluative statements from Lombardi and those close to him. He was in charge, as if his opinions were very newsworthy. “Majority march in favor of democracy,” Lombardy’s Telem also titled an event in support of Macri.

According to Adorni, the projected loss for Telam in 2024 is around €20 million, a figure which former financial advisor and television panelist Miley considers unacceptable.

Between 2019 and 2023, under the presidency of Peronist Alberto Fernández, coverage in all media recovered rapidly, in addition to beginning to reduce its deficit, and partisan bias with respect to Kirchner also decreased.

Sternick concluded, “The conclusion is that, if it is managed well, (Telam) does not run a deficit and generates no expenditures for the state.”

If Miley’s attack continues, there will be no chance of stopping it.

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