Venezuelan journalists quit Globovisión in protest to censorship, firing of colleagues

By Samantha Badgen

Three reporters resigned from Venezuelan TV station Globovisión on Mar. 28 in protest against the channel’s alleged censorship practices and the dismissal of their team of cameramen and technicians.

Madelyn Palmar and Jesús González, correspondents of Globovisión in Zulia, and Doricer Alvarado, correspondent in Lara, resigned on Friday in solidarity with their technician colleagues, who were expecting to renew their contracts of more than nine years, but were fired instead.

The technicians said that complaints over acts of censorship led to the firings. Juan Rodríguez, one of the cameramen who were fired, wrote on his Twitter account that a number of controversial images he had captured of members of the National Guard weren’t published by the channel. The next day he was fired.

In an interview with the Institute of Press and Society of Venezuela (IPYS), Palmar said that the channel informed the office of correspondents in Zulia that they would have a new administrative team and receive better technical and electronic equipment, as well as new technical personnel to work with the reporters. However, the journalists didn’t agree with the replacement of their technician colleagues and tried to negotiate a contract renewal for them. The negotiations did not move forward.

The office of correspondents is now administrated by Julio Reyes, who Palmar identified as being close to the government and a proprietor of a local channel with an pro-government editorial line.

Palmar added there were many irregularities in the reports being made on the protests, and that Globovisión wasn't broadcasting all the images it was capturing during its coverage.

For example, the channel didn’t broadcast information relating to the disturbances in Residencias Palaima, in Zulia, when a “colectivo” – armed groups of pro-government citizens – entered and attacked people who were protesting in the area while the National Guard failed to act on the violent actions and initiated a tear-gas attack.

When we would watch the news on the channel, we would realize that they were distorting the information to avoid airing words such as ‘civil society,’ ‘protests’ and ‘students,’” Palmar said.

In the same interview, Doricer Alvarado told IPYS that after the change in editorial line at Globovisión, stories that didn’t have both sides wouldn’t be published. However, information from one side of the story or the other was usually missing because of refusals to speak on the record, so in the end entire stories were discarded.

“In conversations between colleagues we agreed to keep working while our ethics code wasn’t being violated, but each day there were more demands like this,” she said. “We even sent a letter with our worries but it was never answered.”

This isn’t the first time reporters resign from Globovisión in protests. After the sale of the television network to entities close to the government, various reporters resigned in protest to the changes in its editorial line.

At the beginning of March, Globovisión broke off their alliance of almost a decade with the Colombian news chain RCN Television after growing differences between their editorial lines.

On Wednesday Apr. 2, Reimy Chávez, a reporter for the chain, resigned on air during the news broadcast, saying that he does not agree with the channel's self-censure.

Following the resignation, Chávez was escorted from the studio and Mayela León, Globovision's general director, said in an interview that Chávez's attitude was "disrespectful to the audience" and that they never received the videos recorded by Jesús González and his technical team. These comments led to the reporters who quit last week to take to social media and express their discontent. 

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.