The Promise of Rural Journalism in Guatemala’s Fragile Democracy

June 25, 2010
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

Maria Martin, Pt 1: The Promise of Rural Journalism in Guatemala’s Fragile Democracy from National Endowment for Democracy on Vimeo.

View Presentation :: PDF

María Martin
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

Sally Blair’s Introduction :: video

Presentation Part I :: video
Presentation Part II :: video

Remarks of Geoff Thale :: video
Program Director for the Washington Office on Latin America

Q & A Session and Concluding Remarks :: video

Guatemala is a multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural country still struggling with the legacy of a 36-year civil war. The inequities and discrimination that helped fuel the war still haunt the country, particularly in the indigenous highland provinces that bore the brunt of the civil conflict.

Those journalists and social communicators who work to tell the stories of these areas have faced censorship, threats, and a lack of professional training. In a promising development, the media in the capital have begun to expand their coverage of the countryside. Guatemala’s rural and indigenous journalists are thus poised to become key actors in the development of a viable and independent press. However, as they gain in strength and confidence, they are viewed as an increasing threat to the status quo by the corrupt and powerful.

Based in Guatemala as a journalism trainer for much of the past seven years, María Martin is in a unique position to discuss challenges and opportunities facing rural media in the country.


María Martin, Director of the GraciasVida Center for Media, a nonprofit organization devoted to the practice of independent journalism in the public interest. An award-winning public-radio journalist dedicated to the vision that strong community media can build healthier democracies, she has devoted seven years to training and organizing rural and indigenous journalists in Guatemala and Bolivia. She is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and a John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalism at Stanford University, where she investigated the challenges facing rural indigenous journalists.

During her fellowship at NED, Ms. Martin evaluated and explored the use of a digital portal linking rural journalists with transnational audiences. She also developed opportunities for collaboration with partners within the United States, particularly with the Guatemalan immigrant community.