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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Argentine organization criticizes massive journalism layoffs across the country



The Forum for Argentine Journalism (FOPEA) condemned last week a string of massive layoffs in media outlets that have taken place all throughout December and January. The outlets have argued the layoffs are part of internal reorganizations but FOPEA cited possible political retaliation as a motive prompting some of the decisions.

The organization mentioned layoffs at regional and provincial publications, and highlighted the cases of two news agencies, Indalo Media and Editorial Perfil.

Indalo Media allegedly dismissed 25 staffers because their investigative journalism hurt the organization's relationship with the government. Meanwhile, Perfíl fired journalists who participated in a workplace union and, later, 12 other journalists who protested the cuts. Journalism union members accused Editorial Perfíl of intimidating their members throughout the layoffs. One of the seven journalists who were laid off in October of last year was part of the Electoral Council in charge of organizing Perfíl’s internal union elections, according to news portal Terra.

Among those let go at Indalo Media are journalists Antonio Laje, of cable TV news channel C5N and Radio 10, and Gustavo Mura who also worked for Radio 10. The latter had conducted a critical interview of Argentina’s Secretary of Security, Sergio Berni. Laje says he was fired for criticizing the government during Argentina’s December power outages. Cristóbal López, who owns Idalo Media, is a supporter of Argentina's president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but denies that politics played any part in the layoffs  calling the measures “strictly business restructuring” to “optimize [Indalo Media’s] personnel and resources.”

FOPEA condemned Perfil’s firings as an infringement upon the rights of journalists generally. “While we are a professional journalism association and tend not to get involved in internal labor matters, we feel the situation facing [these] journalistic workers diminishes information qualities and is an assault on the rights’ of their colleagues.”

Some of the fired journalists’ colleagues have protested the move by Lopez. According to Argentine newspaper La Gaceta, Oscar González Oro, an anchor for TV station C5N, which Lopez owns, said “It’s impossible to work under these conditions.” Argentine daily La Nación reports that Fabián Doman, also a journalist at C5N, denounced the firings and threatened to leave the station if he could no longer criticize the government.

FOPEA finished by saying that business and political concerns did not justify firing journalists and encouraging self-censorship.

“FOPEA wishes to express the soundest rejection of a business mentality which treats workers and their rights as its dispensable variables," the organization said, adding that its condemnation applies "even more if, behind all this, is some kind of ideological, political, or worker persecution. In the context of great labor instability, these situations don’t do anything but limit the exercise of the profession and they act as a sort of muzzling of the plurality of media voices needed to stay informed in a democratic society.”

FOPEA has condemned the top-down business model before. In January of last year, they criticized efforts by media owners to influence journalistic content.



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