Critics claim Peru’s biggest media company is biasing presidential election coverage

A week before the second round of presidential voting between Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala, a Calandria Social Communicators Association study says that the El Comercio media company has taken Fujimori’s side in the race, the Inter Press Service reports.

The study says much media attention has focused on Humala, not in summarizing his positions but in attacking him, with El Comercio, the country’s “biggest media conglomerate” as one of the worst offenders. Antiprensa argues that the company’s pro-Fujimori editorial line has spilled into its electoral reporting in the print and broadcast outlets it controls, which includes both Peru’s oldest (El Comercio newspaper) and most widely read (Trome) dailes and the most watched network in the country (América TV).

In an interview with La Republica, investigative journalist Gustavo Gorriti said there is an “explicit alliance” against Humala led by El Comercio.

The climate of tension surrounding the election, currently a virtual tie, has led to multiple firings and resignations by journalists who failed to support Fujimori. The perception of bias has led crowds of Humala supporters to harass journalists at outlets said to support Fujimori.

Among the recent examples of this is the resignation of Miguel Det, a cartoonist for the El Comercio-owned Peru 21 newspaper. In his resignation letter, he said that he did not want to have his name affiliated with the paper that has become a “pro-Fujimori tabloid.” Similarly, according to Terra, a TV host at Canal N, also owned by El Comercio, recently complained on the air that her station broadcast a pop music feature instead of a widely covered press conference by Humala.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.