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November 3, 2011
By Rafael R. Díaz Torres Of the Daily Sun staff firstname.lastname@example.org An inconsistency between the principle of freedom of the press taught in undergraduate courses of journalism at the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Communication and the politics of news censorship promoted by the academic center’s administration with the complicity of the School’s director Eliseo Colón was denounced in press conference held Tuesday by staff and friends from “Radio Universidad” (University Radio) public station in regards to the surprising cancelation of “Hoy en las Noticias” (Today in the News) announced Monday by the Río Piedras Campus Chancellor Ana Guadalupe. “The “Hoy en las Noticias” news show has been on the air for 23 years, despite being put off air in various occasions,” said Non-Teaching Exempt Staff Union President Wilberto Jiménez Rivera in the press conference held in front of the station’s facilities in the UPR’s Río Piedras Campus. “For example, during the past student strike process, it (the news show) was suspended in three occasions.” “The elimination of the Hoy en las Noticias news show on Radio Universidad is clear form of censorship against the freedom of the press,” added the syndical leader. Jiménez Rivera argued that the temporary cancelations responded to the news show’s independent journalism from the university’s central administration and its decisions against students during the two strike processes experienced in 2010. “The reasons given by Doctor Eliseo Colón to eliminate Hoy en las Noticias are not coherent,” commented former reporter from the news show and current announcer for the station, Roberto Morales Cabán. “He alleged poor ratings, wear and tear, and renovation, but we need to highlight that public stations are not measured by audiences. Still, the information I have confirms that the news show is among the first.” Morales Cabán’s allegations are consistent with broadcast radio principles established by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission such as the delimitation of purposes for the “FM dial” in the mid 1940’s. In June 1945, the FCC not only separated the FM dial to run from 88 to 108 MHz, but also delimitated the 88 to 92 MHz for public and non-commercial stations with an exhibition of content based on non-profit service and the consideration of broadcast radio airwaves as a public common good.
The veteran reporter also questioned the use of ratings especially since “Arbitron” which is the company in charge of measuring broadcast radio audiences for commercial purposes has not developed a mechanism to count the thousands of audiences who follow Radio Universidad online both on the island and around the globe. Morales Cabán demanded the restitution of a news show that according to him represents the most important forum of training for students of journalism on the island’s first academic center. Other groups including the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU for its Spanish acronym) and community leaders from Río Piedras lamented Guadalupe’s decision and also demanded the immediate restitution of the popular news show. “With the restitution of the news show, the first academic center in Puerto Rico will give an example of respect to the same values of independence and editorial integrity taught to students in the Communications courses offered in the institution. Teachings must be supported by action,” affirmed APPU Vice-President in Río Piedras, Professor Jorge Colón. “As representative for us in Capetillo, this decision from Chancellor Guadalupe is devastating as it eliminates a source of good journalism that always gave a voice to residents from a community like ours which is the most immediate to the (Río Piedras) campus,” lamented Capetillo Community leader José Guibas. Hoy en las Noticias will be substituted by “Contrapunto”, an investigative journalism show to be aired recorded and only once a week.