‘Joke in bad taste’ aimed at cameramen draws condemnation from press groups
By The Star Staff
The National Press Photographers Association, the Overseas Press Club and the Puerto Rico Journalists Association this week condemned derogatory comments directed at Puerto Rican journalists who were deported from Mexico while covering the FIBA Women’s Americup basketball tournament.
A few days ago, Natalia Meléndez and Jaime Delgado, a journalist and photojournalist, respectively, were forced to leave Mexico after facing problems with the National Customs Agency of that country, where they traveled to cover the tournament.
The Mexican authorities confiscated the journalists’ equipment and demanded money for its return. When the journalists refused to pay, they were deported.
Having learned of the event, comedian Alejandro Gil, in the company of Danilo Beauchamp, made defamatory statements about the reporters and all island photojournalists on his radio program “El Reguero,” which is transmitted by the radio station 94.7 FM.
“In what seems to be an unfortunate joke, Gil questioned whether the arrest of the press colleagues was due to the possibility that they were carrying marijuana, since, he said, ‘all cameramen are stoners. All cameramen use drugs,’” the Journalists Association said in a statement. “These statements, which may well be the product of a joke in bad taste, do not cease to be defamation against the press that, responsibly, plays a fundamental role of informing and documenting the daily events of the country, with seriousness and commitment.”
The group said it understood the humorous context in which Gil tried to frame his statements.
“However, every person who has the privilege of being in front of a microphone and the power to communicate to an audience must be aware of the social responsibility they carry and assume for everything they say, even in humor,” the association said. “Comedy, good or bad, should not be an excuse or license to defame. Therefore, as a body that brings together the photojournalists of Puerto Rico, we stand in solidarity with our colleagues and strongly reject the defamatory statements of the comedians mentioned. We urge them to retract this comment and to reflect on the impact, scope and responsibility they have, as communicators, as well as the respect we must have for the audience and for colleagues from all media.”