The British and Canadian embassies held a celebration in honor of Journalists’ Day Wednesday at the residence of the British Ambassador Mark Kent.
At the event, Kent and Canadian Ambassador David Usher also discussed the upcoming Global Conference for Media Freedom which will take place in London July 10-11. The conference, organised by the UK and Canadian governments, will bring together government officials, multilateral agencies, civil society organisations, academics, editors, publishers, and journalists to discuss how to promote freedom of the media.
Journalists from the Argentine media – including several from The Buenos Aires Times and Perfil – gathered in the British Ambassador's residence in Recoleta, considered to be one of the most beautiful British diplomatic residences in the world. In the reception room, with an ornate chandelier at the center and portraits of George V and Mary of Teck hanging on the wall, the British Ambassador opened with a joke.
“Oliver [head of communications for the embassy] tells me that journalists are like diplomats. If you provide alcohol and food, you will get a good turnout,” Kent said.
Then the subject changed to the state of global journalism as the laughter died down. The Ambassadors presented a short film giving tribute to journalists. It showed footage of reporters from around the world who risk their lives and included clips of pivotal moments in journalistic history such as Richard Nixon saying “I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.”
The speeches of the Ambassadors, who both spoke in Spanish with heavy accents, were generally pessimistic about the safety of journalists around the world and highlighted that 99 journalists were killed in 2018 and 348 were imprisoned.
Kent also addressed the complications that come with representing the United Kingdom in Argentina.
“It is not always so easy to be the British Ambassador,” he said. “But I want to thank all of you for your professionalism and the treatment you have given me. I’ve always been covered fairly… and I am speaking from the heart.”
The United Kingdom and Argentina have long been engaged in a territorial dispute over the Malvinas islands and the British embassy is a regular site of protests. President Mauricio Macri has taken a more moderate position to Argentina–UK relations though he has nonetheless maintained that Argentina’s claim “to the sovereignty of the Malvinas islands is legitimate and irrevocable.”
The official National Journalists’ Day in Argentina is celebrated June 7 in honor of the 1810 founding of the "Gazeta de Buenos Ayres," the first newspaper of independent Argentina, but Kent was out of the country that day.