The mass media in El Salvador has acted as an ally to the conservative ARENA party, promoting its political and economic agenda and helping to preserve an exclusionary elite political project. When ARENA’s political dominance was threatened in 2003, the media increased and sensationalized reports on gang crime to garner electoral support for ARENA’s repressive Mano Dura security policies. Since then, the media’s elaboration of gang news stories has promoted repression and legitimized state violence. After the electoral triumph of the FMLN in 2009, the media obstructed attempts to reform the public security system with integrative measures, portraying the government as ineffective against gangs and inciting moral panics over crime. The resulting heightened perceptions of insecurity at times when homicides have decreased significantly demonstrate the extent of the media’s manipulation of public opinion through a near monopoly of information that favors conservative interest at the cost of citizen security.
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Thesis advisor: Dawson, Alexander
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