Overview

News outlets and journalists in a prominent Latin American nation were facing a deteriorating environment of freedom of expression. Not only was the press subject to intimidation and financial pressure over its editorial independence, but it faced an international community that was largely unaware of its plight. Blue Star Strategies developed a comprehensive strategy to educate policymakers in the US Government, opinion leaders in the American press, and key decision makers in the international community regarding this collapse of press freedoms.

Challenges

The first obstacle we needed to overcome in effectively advocating for press freedom was the apathy of policymakers and media figures whose attention was not focused on Latin America. Secondly, an active campaign of misinformation flowed from the government in question, which needed to be countered by an energetic campaign to bring the true facts to light. Finally, ideological opponents of press freedom in the international community were blocking any efforts to raise the issue in multilateral forums.

Strategic Recommendations

Blue Star created a multilevel strategy on the premise that any successful advocacy for press freedom would be based on raising awareness and exerting pressure through the international community. We developed a compelling narrative and leveraged it through media and opinion leaders. We then mobilized support among natural allies of freedom of expression in the US Congress, the State Department, and press freedom organizations in the United States and internationally. Finally, this raised profile allowed for the issue to be effectively raised in the forums of international diplomacy, including regional multilateral organizations and summits, and in the realm of bilateral relations.

Program Highlights

Blue Star's efforts succeeded in dramatically raising the profile of this issue among the international community. Major news outlets such as the Washington Post, the AP, and Politico turned the attention of their news and opinion sections to the situation. The Washington policy was engaged through high profile events bringing together press representatives and US Senators. As a result of this public exposure, the issue of freedom of expression became an issue bilateral relations between the US and the government in question, as well as in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Results

As a result of the persuasive narrative that linked the press group's tribulations with the natural concern of the US for democracy and human rights, representatives of both the legislative and executive branches of the US Government decided to escalate pressure, both publicly and privately, on the government in question, and introduce press freedoms as a sticking point in diplomatic relations.