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Historia mexicana

versión On-line ISSN 2448-6531versión impresa ISSN 0185-0172


COUDART, Laurence. The Freedom of the Press in Ministerial Reports: Governmental Communication, Legal and Journalistic Dynamics (1821-1867). Hist. mex. [online]. 2019, vol.69, n.1, pp.205-255. ISSN 2448-6531.

Based on the ministerial reports presented to Congress, this article, without falling into essentialist notions of “censorship,” aims to decipher the political dynamics and legal conditions that established the different regulations on the freedom of the press during the first stage of Mexico’s life as an independent country. By invariably attributing a social responsibility to the press, the ruling class sought to promote, organize and control or “civilize” this new means of communication in development, which was a sort of prelude to the media era, despite being aimed at only a small part of the population. The functions of the ideal newspaper were many: it was considered essential to aid in the task of building the nation and giving legitimacy to the new, still-fragile state, as well as to serve as a tool in the construction of political society and the propagation of new, “enlightened” norms. Taken together, this created inevitable tensions and contradictions between ideology and pragmatism, between constitutional principles and applied law, as well as discordances in the desire to neutralize the partisan struggles in which politicians participated. These contortions reveal the period’s experimental character, determining the close relationship between the government and the press, as well as laying the basis for journalistic culture. This study offers a precise chronology of general press regulations and a periodization of a variety of circumstantial legal provisions. This chronology is compared with one of journalistic production, which, when repressed, is always reborn from the ashes.

Palabras llave : freedom of the press; censorship; legislation; newspapers; Mexico; 19th century.

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