Resignations at Globovisión suggest structural changes in Venezuela’s media landscape

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  • August 2, 2013

By Isabela Fraga

The recent departure at least 11 journalists from Venezuelan broadcaster Globovisión has raised questions about the plurality of the media in the country. TV hosts Gladys Rodríguez, Román Lozinski, María Elena Lavaud, Roberto Giusti, María Isabel Párraga and Mary Montes, for instance, resigned a few days after the departure of well-known journalist Leopoldo Castillo, host of the TV show "Aló Ciudadano," news site America Economía reported.

Soon after its sale in May 2013, Globovisión announced there would be changes to its editorial line, which caused unease among employees. The station had maintained quite a tense relationship with the Venezuelan government since Hugo Chávez became president in 1999. In June 2012, for example, Globovisión was forced to pay a fine of $ 5.6 million for its coverage of a prison riot. And even after the death of Chavez, conflicts continued to occur between the broadcaster and the new president, Nicolás Maduro.

Although Castillo hasn't commented on the reasons for his departure, it is said that he did it because he did not accept the channel's editorial changes that aimed to give more space to the government, newspaper El Mundo reported. Meanwhile, journalist and TV host Roberto Giusti said in a piece published in the newspaper El Universal that he was leaving because it wasn't possible for journalism to be free in the new Globovisión.

Román Lozinski, former anchor of the TV station's main newscast, said in a statement that he left the channel because he and other colleagues were barred from entering the station on Friday, Aug. 16, according to La Patilla. The ban was allegedly issued because Lozinki refused to read the news on the previous evening's newscast the news last night, in a show of solidarity with Leopoldo Castillo over his departure. "You cannot be a spectator of censorship," said Lozinski in public statement about his resignation.

If indeed Globovisión is trying to turn down its critical tone, it could lead to changes in other media outlets as well. "Globovisión could become the door to the depoliticization of Venezuela's media. Changes will help reduce the warlike-tone of political confrontations," said sociologist Maruclen Stellin in an interview with AFP.

Carlos Diaz, a social media analyst at Gumilla, said that "private media [in Venezuela] will become domesticated or readjust to be less troublesome to those in power (...)". A report in the newspaper La Verdad adds: "The pioneering news channel in the country is increasingly reduced to informative spaces not very different from the informative balance promoted by state broadcaster Venevision."

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.