Both Bolivia and Ecuador are still considered the “Catholic heartland” in South America, with just above 80 per cent of the population claiming Catholicism according to recent statistics.
Yet growing secularization, mixed with global cultural trends, intensifying religious competition particularly from evangelical Protestants, and pluralism of many kinds challenge religion reporters.
At TMP's recent regional conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early in December, 2013, a group of 30 journalists from more than 10 different countries in South America discussed various challenges to good reporting. The conference also started its own group on Facebook and generated ideas for future events in different countries on the continent.
Later this month, two national events will take place sponsored by The Media Project, first in Bolivia and and the second shortly after in Quito, Ecuador.
At the upcoming conference in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia on Saturday, 22 March, Reynaldo Aragón from Lima, Peru, will address the role of Christian journalists in non-religious media. Aragón has more than 25 years of media experience in radio and TV, as a director of the TELEVIDA TV station and as a presenter and producer.
Senior Bolivian TV presenter Maria Renee Duchen will talk about principles and values in the editorial policies in the country, while the CEO of The Media Project Dr Arne H Fjeldstad will present challenges and “blind spots” for religion reporting in mainstream news. Also the role of the electronic media in a context of “light culture” will be addressed at the conference.
The conference organizer for Bolivia, Napoleon Ardaya, will also speak at the day conference in Quito, Ecuador, the following Monday, 24 March, on the topic “politics and communication.”
Ardaya is a political columnist, vice president of the Bolivian Radio Association in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and president of Radio Centenario. Among the other contributors are Roberto Alvarez Wandemberg speaking on the “social media and its influence on communication,” while Pedro Sánchez will talk about religious information in a secular state.