The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today expressed sadness at the death of Argentine media executive and former IPI Executive Board Member Bartolomé Mitre, who passed away Wednesday, just one week short of his 80th birthday.

“IPI is proud to have counted such a passionate supporter of media freedom and dedicated editor among our members. Bartolomé Mitre’s contribution to the IPI mission will never be forgotten. We express our sincerest condolences to his family and friends”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said, paying tribute to Mitre on behalf of the IPI global network.

Born in Buenos Aires on April 2, 1940, Mitre became director of La Nación, Argentina’s leading conservative daily, in 1982. The great-great-grandson of the newspaper’s founder, former Argentine President Bartolomé Mitre Martínez, he joined the family newspaper in 1966, two years after receiving his law degree from the University of Buenos Aires, working his way up through various managerial positions.

During his time at the helm of La Nación, Mitre introduced colour printing to the pages of the newspaper, a step that was considered revolutionary at the time. He also hired intellectuals such as Mario Vargas Llosa and Octavio Paz as columnists. He strived to maintain the paper’s traditional conservative approach established 150 years earlier, while keeping up with the technological advancements of the industry. In 1995, the Mitre family lost its majority share of the newspaper, but Bartolomé Mitre kept his part of the shares and stayed on as editor of the newspaper.

A long-time IPI member, Mitre was instrumental in organizing IPI’s 36th General Assembly in Buenos Aires and Montevideo in 1987, the first and so far only IPI annual gathering of editors, media executives and leading journalists to be held in Latin America. Speaking at that event, Mitre said: “A free press gives an idea of a political culture of a people and the press is far more respectable when it is more critical, when it carries out more research, when it is more profound and goes beyond rumour. Without freedom of the press, there is no true information.”

A staunch defender of press freedom and freedom of expression, Mitre was elected to the IPI Executive Board in 2006, serving one four-year term. He was also active in the Argentine newspaper editors’ association ADEPA and was a member of the board of directors of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

Passionate about press freedom, Mitre wrote two books on the subject, “Sin libertad de prensa no hay libertad” (Without Freedom of the Press there is No Freedom) and “El derecho de replica” (The Right of Reply). He received numerous distinctions, orders of merit and awards in recognition of his contribution to the profession of journalism and freedom of expression.