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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Peruvian judiciary decides in favor of journalist dismissed for refusing to read advertisements



The Peruvian Judiciary decided in favor of Perla Berríos in a lawsuit over harassment suffered by the journalist while working at the network Latina, magazine Caretas reported on Aug. 17.

According to the journalist, she was dismissed for refusing to read advertisements between news items, which also led to a period of harassment at work that was recognized by the Peruvian courts.

Peruvian journalist Perla Berríos. (Twitter @perlaberrios)

Berríos and journalist Melissa Peschiera presented the newscast 90 Matinal on the network Latina and stopped appearing on the program on Oct. 22, 2015. At the time, Berríos was seven months pregnant.

The two journalists did not comment on the reasons for leaving the channel, but the day after the dismissal, Peschiera wrote on her Twitter profile against "arbitrariness, arrogance, abuse of power, evil, lack of humanity and respect.”

Berríos told Caretas that she and her colleague were dismissed because they refused to read advertisements between news items during the program, without explicit notice to viewers that it was an advertisement.

The journalist said she did as demanded by the company "once or twice, but I felt it was against my ethics to disguise advertising as information." Berríos said she tried repeatedly to argue with the management of the show and the station, which allegedly told her she was "damaging the commercial interests of the channel."

"When I said 'no more,' Augusto Álvarez Rodrich, managing director at the time, told me that I would have to leave the newscast. And one day later he informed me that it was no longer necessary to go to work, without further explanation,” the journalist told Caretas.

Months later, Berríos filed suit against the company for harassment. The first court to hear the case decided in the journalist’s favor, noting jurisprudence based on a sentence of the Constitutional Court of Peru.

“The tenor of the work contract signed by the parties does not imply from any of its clauses that the plaintiff is obliged to issue advertisements of third parties, less when acting as a reporter or host of journalism programs,” the sentence said, according to Caretas. The decision also establishes that the company’s demand to change the contract with Berríos would “violate the dignity of the plaintiff implying acts against the morality” of the journalist.

“It is an inconsistency to this principle to secretly spread advertising under the guise of news, journalistic opinions or recreational material, without clearly indicating it is advertising,” the sentence also read.

The network Latina appealed the decision, which is still pending before a second court.

According to Peru21, Berríos, who now works at station RPP Televisión, said she considers the decision “a small victory.” "I will continue to fight to the end because, for me, it’s a fundamental theme of journalistic ethics. The journalists who love this profession understand the irrevocable values that a journalist should have,” she said.

 



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