Ecuadorian newspaper complies with court order, apologizes to government

Fighting a court order, the Ecuadorian newspaper La Hora published an apology to the government in its Nov. 14 edition, according to the newspaper El Diario. Under the headline "Judicial Rectification," the front page of the newspaper announced the it would publish a correction to its October article "$71 million in propaganda," referring to the supposed amount of money spent by the government on official advertising, reported El Diario.

In response to the article, Undersecretary of Public Administration Alejandro Pico sent a letter to La Hora expressing his disagreement with the figures, according to the website Perú21. Even though the figures were released by the Citizen Participation Corporation's Monitoring Center, not affiliated with the newspaper, the official sued the publication, citing a violation of constitutional rights.

In response to the lawsuit, the newspaper ran another front page headline reading, "2012: $12 million in official advertising" on Nov. 14. Along with the headline, the newspaper ran the previously published letter from Pico contesting the figures and offered its apologies, reported the website Confirmado. "The sentence demanded we offer our apologies to the State, which we did because our institution respects the Constitution and the law," La Hora published.

A few days earlier, the Inter American Press Association criticized the court order, saying, "[the decision] was influenced by the Executive Branch, which tried to force a newspaper to 'correct' information based on an identified source and, furthermore, 'apologize' to authorities," the group stated on its website.

The Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios agreed, calling the sanctions against the newspaper a "violation" of freedom of expression and the press and cited "ulterior motives" behind the attempt to quash news "in the public interest," according to the group's website.

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.