El Mercurio, the oldest newspaper in Chile, has been owned and operated since 1849 by the Edwards family. Its current owner, Agustín Edwards Eastman, has controlled the journal since 1956. With editions published in Santiago and Valparaiso, as well as twenty regional editions, Chile’s “newspaper of record” is also the largest news organization in the country.
The new film by Ignacio Agüero, AGUSTÍN’S NEWSPAPER follows journalism students from the University of Chile as they launch an investigation into the work of the newspaper, and its reporting of and role in their country’s political history, in particular around the election of Salvador Allende in 1970, the violent coup against him in 1973, and the subsequent seventeen years of the military regime.
AGUSTÍN’S NEWSPAPER features archival footage, interviews with former editors, journalists and other staff members at El Mercurio, Pinochet’s political advisor and press secretary, relatives of political dissidents who were “disappeared,” as well as John Dinges, former Washington Post correspondent in Santiago.
Together, the students and the film dig into the particulars of several key events and their coverage in El Mercurio. They also look into relations between the owners and managers of the newspaper and Chilean political parties, the church, military, secret police, and the CIA.
In the end, through its attention to the details of one country’s journalistic history, AGUSTÍN’S NEWSPAPER raises profound questions not only about the role and responsibilities of Chile’s most important newspaper, but of all those who control or manage the dissemination of information and the reporting of news in every country.
"A groundbreaking documentary because it is the first to investigate the role and influence of this powerful newspaper... The investigative work and research that was done for this film presents an impressive array of primary sources. This is an important exposition on power and corruption in the media and the tragic human rights violations of thousands of Chileans. Recommended." —Karen Coronado, George Fox University, Educational Media Reviews Online
2009 Award of Merit in Film, Latin American Studies Association
2009 Guadalajara Film Festival
2009 Santiago Documentary Festival
2009 Mexico City Festival of Independent Cinema
"A useful investigation of the different elements involved in a dictator’s rise to power, and a strong indictment of the newspaper and its editor." —H-Net Reviews