Ecuador's president and candidate for re-election, Rafael Correa, announced that he would review a proposal to subsidize the salaries of "poorly paid" journalists, reported the news agency EFE.
Last December, Correa decided to raise the minimum wage for journalists to match that of teachers at $817. The decision translated into an increase of 69 percent for reporters, according to AFP.
"I've asked the Communications secretary to prepare a contingency plan for the government to support these small, non-for-profit stations that cannot pay higher salaries and the possibility of the State to subsidize the salaries," Correa told Radio Majestad, according to AFP.
Correa justified his subsidy proposal saying, "Journalism--a truly free and independent press--is fundamental in a democracy," reported Europa Press. The president clarified that the measure would no apply to large media companies because "there, what matters most is money and they have always exploited their workers," added the news agency.
In the same comments, Correa pointed out that one media company fired three journalists who made $292 a month, according to EFE. "Is this what they want to continue doing?" asked the president and blasting large media companies, calling them "slaves and slave drivers," added EFE.
The announcement comes in the midst of national election campaigns for president and the legislative assembly on Feb. 17, reported several sources.
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.