Content Analysis

Case Study: Understanding the North-South Gap


The power of media to set agendas, serve as gatekeepers of information, and frame salient issues for public consumption has been well documented by communication and mass media researchers [see McCombs & Shaw, 1972, Entman, 1993; Wanta, 1997; White, 1964]. Such theories can also be applied to international reporting and can help consumers understand why an event or circumstance was reported in a certain way.

Below, you will find a summary of “the facts” and the coverage of an international story that occurred last year. Read both, and then carefully consider the questions that follow.

The facts:

  • August 4, 2007: Guido Antonini Wilson, 46, a Venezuelan businessman from Miami, landed in Buenos Aires on a plane chartered by Argentina’s state-owned oil company Enarsa.
  • Antonini was detained by authorities when he was found to be carrying nearly $800,000 USD in undeclared currency.
  • Wilson was not charged with any serious offense and was allowed to return to the United States.
  • Later that month, the Argentine government asked for the extradition of Antonini from the United States on money laundering charges.
  • December 11, 2007: In Miami federal court, the FBI charged four men – three Venezuelans, two of whom are Miami-based businessmen, and one Uruguayan – of being unregistered foreign agents of the Venezuelan government.
  • Based on information given by Antonini, the men were accused of attempting to keep Wilson quiet about the details of the money that was seized in Argentina.


The media coverage:


Four arrested in Miami in Argentine cash scandal
By Jim Loney

MIAMI (Reuters), December 12, 2007 - U.S. authorities arrested three Venezuelans and a Uruguayan who allegedly tried to cover up a scandal of $800,000 in cash sent by Venezuela to Argentina to finance a political campaign, officials said on Wednesday.

The four men were arrested on Tuesday night and charged with failing to register with the United States as agents of a foreign government -- Venezuela. They face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, U.S. federal prosecutors said in a statement.

Read entire article:


December 12, 2007 Wednesday
Federal prosecutors say Chavez tried to help Argentine ally
By Luisa Yanez, Jack Chang and Phil Gunson, McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI - Federal prosecutors dropped a bombshell in a Miami federal courtroom Wednesday, revealing for the first time that the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez secretly tried to funnel nearly $1 million in cash to the presidential campaign of newly elected Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The revelation came during a hasty hearing for four foreign nationals _ including two local wealthy Venezuelans. Each is charged with being unregistered foreign agents for the Venezuelan government. Their mission from Chavez government: To hush-up a local Venezuelan man who 

Read entire article:

the post

U.S. Says Venezuela Tried to Give $800,000 to Argentine
4 Accused in Miami Of Trying to Hide Illegal Contribution
By Monte Reel and Juan Forero

LIMA, Peru, Dec. 12 -- The United States on Wednesday said it had evidence that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's government tried to secretly funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign of Argentina's new president. 

In a criminal complaint, U.S. prosecutors accused four men arrested Wednesday in Miami -- three Venezuelans and a Uruguayan -- of involvement in a conspiracy to cover up an illegal campaign contribution on behalf of the Venezuelan government. The complaint offered the first evidence for an allegation often leveled against Chávez but never proved: that he uses his country's oil wealth to illegally meddle in the politics of his Latin American neighbors. 

Read entire article:


Detienen a 4 personas en Miami por la valija de los 800 mil dólares 

Los acusan de ingresar a EE.UU. y presionar al venezolano Antonini Wilson para que no revele el destino del dinero. La Justicia estadounidense dice que según los detenidos era para la campaña de un candidato argentino. 

La noticia cruzó rápidamente las fronteras y sacudió el ambiente político: la Justicia de los EE.UU. detuvo en Miami a tres venezolanos y a un uruguayo por el caso de la valija con casi 800 mil dólares que el 4 de agosto intentó ingresar a la Argentina el empresario venezolano Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson. Pero hubo más: en un comunicado dado a conocer poco después por el Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos se sostiene que ese dinero, según los arrestados, estaba destinado a la campaña de un candidato de las últimas elecciones presidenciales argentinas, que no fue identificado.

(TRANSLATION: THE NEWS WAS CONFIRMED IN A STATEMENT FROM THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Four persons are detained in Miami in connection with suitcase containing $800,000

They are accused of entering the United States and pressuring Antonini Wilson to not reveal where the money was going. The US Justice Department says that according to the arrestees, the money was for an Argentinean candidate.

The news quickly crossed borders and stirred up the political environment: in Miami, the US Justice Department detained three Venezuelans and one Uruguayan in connection with a suitcase containing nearly $800,000 that the Venezuelan businessman Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson tried to bring into Argentina on August 4th. But there was more: in a statement released a short time later by the Justice Department, the claim was made that the money, according to the arrestees, was destined for an unidentified candidate of the most recent Argentine presidential campaign.)

Read entire article:


Alejandro Antonini está bajo protección 
December 14, 2007 

El diario La Nación relata que su corresponsal en Estados Unidos tuvo un breve contacto telefónico con el empresario venezolano estadounidense. "Usted se imagina que mucho no puedo hablar", dijo

El diario La Nación señaló que el empresario venezolano estadounidense Alejandro Antonini Wilson, interceptado en agosto en un aeropuerto de Buenos Aires con una valija con 800.000 dólares, "se rindió" a la justicia de Estados Unidos para evitar una posible condena.

(TRANSLATION: Alejandro Antonini is under protection

The newspaper La Nación says that its correspondent in the United States had a brief telephone contact with the Venezuelan-U.S. businessman. “You can imagine that there is a lot I cannot talk about,” he said.

The newspaper La Nacion pointed out that the Venezuelan-U.S. businessman Alejandro Antonini Wilson, detained in August in an airport in Buenos Aires with a suitcase containing $800,000, “surrendered” to US justice to avoid a possible sentence.)

Read entire article:

Now that you have read the above articles, consider the following and discuss in groups:

  1. Reporting: Think about the use of sources, word choice, images, headlines and space devoted to the story in each article. Did you notice any differences in the way the stories were reported? What were the similarities?
  2. Context: Think about the larger context of this story, which involves three different countries and multiple actors. What are the geopolitical factors that might influence the way that the story was reported in the United States, Argentina, and Venezuela?
  3. Ownership and interest: Think about what the media’s vested interests might be in reporting this news story. Do some investigating on your own. Who owns these media outlets? Are they viewed as being neutral, or do they follow pro or anti-government platforms? What resources do they have to devote to a complicated international story such as this one?
  4. Media and understanding: What has this analysis pointed out to you about differences in news coverage that exist between the United States and Latin America?
  5. Audience: What is the target audience for each newspaper? How do you think this might influence the way the stories are told?

Also, consider how international coverage reflects the world.  A map representing the numbers of seconds that American network and cable news organizations dedicated to news stories by country in February, 2007, below, may help you answer these questions.