Janet Hinostroza, Ecuador

International Press Freedom Awards

2013 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee

(Courtesy of Univision)

To read Hinostroza’s acceptance speech, click here.

As a leading television reporter and host in her native Ecuador, Janet Hinostroza has investigated human and arms trafficking, the Ecuadoran police, and extrajudicial killings. She is also a prime target in the government’s ongoing assault on free expression.

Following early work on Ecuadoran and Colombian television, Hinostroza has anchored the investigative news show “30 Plus” for the past decade and hosted the news program “La Mañana de 24 Horas,” both on the private Ecuadoran television channel Teleamazonas. Hinostroza also hosts a radio program on 98.1 FM Mundo and is the local correspondent for Univision, while managing a production company specializing in journalistic programming and audiovisual products.

In 2012, Hinostroza was forced to take a leave of absence from her morning news program following anonymous phone calls threatening her safety. Hinostroza had recently investigated a scandal involving a loan by a state-owned bank to a businessman who defaulted. Her reporting uncovered irregularities in the loan and connected the businessman to the then-head of Ecuador’s central bank, who was President Rafael Correa’s cousin.

The Ecuadoran government’s hostility towards Teleamazonas dates to 2009, when the network was ordered off the air after it covered the effects of natural gas exploration on the local fishing industry. The persecution escalated in 2011, when Hinostroza reported that a woman had been charged with disrespecting Correa and the government ordered Teleamazonas to pre-empt 10 minutes of her program with a rebuttal from an official spokesman. Her show has been consistently pre-empted to transmit official rebuttals, and this year Correa requested that prosecutors investigate the network for its alleged links to a 2010 police rebellion.

Hinostroza’s plight is a microcosm for the hundreds of occasions when the administration has taken on individual media outlets engaged in critical reporting with obligatory presidential addresses known as cadenas. Although traditionally used to deliver information in times of crisis, cadenas have instead become a forum for political confrontation–a misuse of Ecuador’s broadcast law.

Ecuadoran journalists must contend with official censorship and harassment, including the use of defamation laws to silence critics, smear campaigns to discredit them, and legislation to regulate news content and media ownership, a CPJ investigation has found.

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