Televisión Nacional de Chile acknowledges 'error' for using 'hooded delinquent' videos in news programme

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Journalist Amaro Gómez-Pablos presenting a news report on the Chilean student protests, with the 'hooded delinquent' video in the background.
Image: Televisión Nacional de Chile.

Leonidas Montes, president of the executive board of Chilean television channel Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) said on Tuesday in a statement to the Chilean Journalists Association that he acknowledged the channel had "commited an error" when it used videos of 'hooded delinquents' (encapuchados) to present reports on the on-going student protests in the country, on TVN's news programme 24 Horas. The statement was released the day after more than 60 university students attempted to interrupt the broadcasting of 24 Horas; the students accused the "channel of all Chileans" to "not giving enough coverage to the student protests, and for supporting the Government in education-related news."

Online newspaper Otra Prensa! reported on July 13 that TVN had, at least three times, used videos of a 'hooded delinquent' to present reports on the student protests: on June 14, 26; and July 11. The journalists presenting the reports were, chronologically, Amaro Gómez-Pablos, Gonzalo Ramírez, and Consuelo Saavedra. "The picture simply is not part of the news, it isn't necessary to use ink to note the evident political purpose it's following," Otra Prensa!'s editor Luis Cuello wrote on July 13. The online newspaper also cited the 17th Article of the Code of Ethics of the Chilean Journalists Association: "The graphic material and the headlines should also be concordant with the texts provided, so the reader, viewer or listener isn't inducted into confusion or deception."

Logo of Televisión Nacional de Chile.

The online newspaper denounced the use of the videos before the Chilean Journalists Association on July 14; vice-president of the association, Giacomo Marasso, said on Twitter that TVN was "evidently trying to distort information;" while Marcelo Castillo, president of the association told Cambio 21 that "[TVN] is trying to reduce the students protests only to what is doing a group of 'hooded delinquents'. TVN is the channel of all the Chileans, it just cannot give this kind of messages." Additionally, that same day, Javiera Montecinos, student of the University of Concepción denounced Televisión Nacional before the Consejo Nacional de Televisión (National Council of Television) for the misuse of images against the student protests; the organization accepted the denouncement.

Mayor of Santiago Pablo Zalaquett in 2009.
Image: Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Aside, Mayor of Santiago, Pablo Zalaquett linked the student protests with the increase of the delinquency in the city. "It is related to the occupations of schools, high schools and universities, and the mass marches," adding that it was "conflictive" that there were "so many youngsters without classes [...] A youngster in the street can be tempted to do whatever thing."

The Chilean Journalists Association said on Tuesday that the Code of Ethics "explicitly sanctions this kind of manipulation [of the information]," and that members of the association are going to present the case to the Ethics Tribunal of the same organization. "We appreciate the attitude of the board of TVN, but we will pay attention to the fulfillment of basic ethical standards for the exercise of the profession," Marcelo Castillo said.