Peru's election board sues newspaper director over poll

The National Board of Elections (JNE), Peru’s highest electoral authority, has presented a formal complaint against Uri Ben Schmuel, the director of La Razón newspaper, for not including the complete datasheet of a poll published in the paper, the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) reports.

The requirements for publishing poll data were changed in December 2010 in the lead up to the 2011 presidential elections, won by Ollanta Humala on June 5, La Razón explains. The newspaper argues that the change, which requires media outlets to publish technical information about poll data in full, “harms journalistic work” and “restricts the ability to publish advertisements.”

In a July 24 editorial, El Comercio newspaper expressed its concern with the rule, calling it an “inexplicable demand” by the JNE.

“This requirement does not help readers and reduces the amount of physical space for analysis. The rule is practically impossible for print media to comply with...as it requires space in the paper that is valuable for placing relevant news items or publishing advertisements,” the editorial said, adding “for small newspapers and magazines, this requirement could be fatal.”

Additionally, several newspapers have already been charged and fined by the JNE for opinion pieces that refer to poll data, including Hildebrandt en sus trece and Expreso, as well as La Razón and El Comercio themselves.

While the JNE has softened its stance on publishing the poll datasheets, Schmuel says the charges against him “have not been shelved.”

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.