The changing media landscape in Ecuador #Forum2000online

June 24, 2021

In this week's #Forum2000online Chat, Ana Karina López Ramón, a political journalist from Ecuador and a founding partner of Fundamedios, an organization promoting freedom of expression and monitoring threats to freedom of the press in Latin America, talks about the change between the two Presidential administrations of Ecuador and its impact on the media.  

Ecuadorian Presidents Moreno and Correa represent very different approaches to media 

Even though the two presidents come from the same social democratic political party PAIS Alliance, their approach to the media and freedom of expression was very different. Ana Karina reports that the former president Rafael Correa used to suppress the media critical of him, and the justice was to his service.  

“Before Correa, media in Ecuador were an institution with high credibility.”  

Correa attacked free journalism on several fronts  

Correa established his own channel of direct communication and persecuted the existing press via a new “communication law” established in 2013. Yet, Ana Karina notes that he was careful not to cross the line.  

“He made special attention to not imprison them as not to dismantle his international image.” 

At times, he demanded journalists be put to jail only to release them later and show his forgiveness. The newspapers that undermined his image were under the threat of high fees.  

The message of October 2019 protests 

It is necessary to understand that majority of the attacks on free journalism during the protests were not launched by the government. On the contrary, it was oftentimes the protesters who attacked the press. The population did not feel represented by the media throughout Latin America, which sparked protests not only in Ecuador.  

“This demonstration has a mixture of public discontent and serious political infiltrations.” 

Public space is very polarized  

The government of Ecuador has changed, but the difficult situation of media remains. According to Ana Karina, the journalists should work on creating information databases that the country lacks completely. It also needs to strive for a successful transition into the digital space. It will take some time to remove the harm done by the communication law of Correa’s administration. 

“Rafael’s Correa official information machinery was overwhelming, leaving behind hundreds of journalists.” 

If the traditional media manages to overcome the legacy of Rafael Correa, new challenges, such as the representation of minorities, will lie ahead.  

In this interview, you will learn that:  

  • Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa used different means to attack free journalism. 
  • Before Correa came to power, the media in Ecuador enjoyed higher credibility. 
  • Moreno’s presidency meant a considerable improvement for media in Ecuador.  
  • The “Communication law” of 2013 allowed Correa to suppress his critics.  
  • The public was very discontent with the press by the time of October 2019 protests. 
  • The public space of Ecuador remains seriously polarized.  
  • The era of Rafael Correa left many journalists behind. 

Ana Karina López Ramón is a founding partner of Fundamedios. She works on monitoring the media landscape and attacks on free journalism in Ecuador. Her book on the former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was awarded the municipality’s book of the year for journalism.   

The interview was recorded on June 22, 2021, and moderated by Lucia Argüellová, Head of the People in Need’s Latin American Program.