Virpi Salojärvi

Virpi Salojärvi

  • University of Helsinki
Participant in 2010

Phd Projects


Freedom of expression in Venezuela

This study will focus on freedom of expression in Venezuela under President Chavez’s rule. In my previous study I discovered that both the opposition and the government say they are fighting for freedom of expression in the country; however, their means to achieve this goal are very different. After 2002, Chavez tightened his control over the media, which has been largely owned by the country’s opposition. Chavez believes he is just implementing his media’s democratization plan, which includes, among other things, nationalizing some private media, setting new media laws, and strengthening community media. However, according to the opposition Chavez is just trying to control critical media outlets. Local NGOs, and some researcher, say this has caused a climate of self-censorship. Another interesting aspect of Chavez’s media policy is the use of his TV show Alo Presidente and cadenas, which are important announcements about state issues, broadcast, simultaneously, on every channel . However, Chavez is airing these announcement whenever he wants, even during prime time. Furthermore, they can last for hours and can be about anything he considers important. Based on this situation in Venezuela, I will study the concept of freedom of expression. My main research question is: How is freedom of expression is defined in Venezuela? Freedom of expression is not an unchanging concept, but how it manifests changes over time and in different societies. Freedom of expression is a central part of democratic societies, but it also needs constant challenging and open discussion about how best to practice it. Therefore, I will first study democratic theories and the basis of a democratic state. From there I will move to studying human rights, especially freedom of expression. Freedom of expression includes journalists’ rights to do their job but it also includes citizens’ rights to receive and access information. My research materials will include newspaper articles of the opposition media and bulletins from the Venezuelan Ministry of Information and Communication. I will analyse the data both quantitatively and qualitatively. First I will provide a broad overview of the data using content analyses. Next, I will apply a framework analysis. I am already familiar with this approach and it is very suitable for analysing large amounts of data. However, for my thesis I would like to deepen my knowledge of framework analysis, so I can best exploit its possibilities. I will also interview some NGO representatives and some journalists. For this data I will use argument analysis.

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