The taming of El Universal

Vendido-el-diario-venezolano-El-Universal-a-empresa-españolaSix months have passed since HegemonCorp. (the private arm of the hegemony) bought El Universal, one of Venezuela’s oldest and largest newspapers. Since then, the paper has turned into a parody of itself, with many of its journalists leaving and with an editorial line so insipid that it makes fully state-owned counterparts like Ciudad CCS seem fully alive in comparison.

Now, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) through its regional correspondent John Otis, offers an inside look into how the still unknown owners of El Universal, along with the paper’s new chairman Jesus Abreu Anselmi, have changed the paper into what one of its reporters defines as “boring”.

…since the sale of El Universal to a mysterious business group, most of the newspaper’s critical news columnists have been jettisoned. EUTV, El Universal’s fledgling Web-based TV station that provided independent reporting, has been shut down. Several journalists, including three of the paper’s eight economics reporters, have resigned after complaining about censorship by their editors.

The front page, in particular, has become a megaphone for the government. During a CPJ visit to Venezuela in early December, above-the-fold stories often came from interviews with government ministers.”

But El Universal has paid a price, and not only in its credibility: according to a source, the number of unsold papers has grown from 12% to 25% in the last few months, a trend shared by fellow HegemonCorp. paper Últimas Noticias. Nevertheless, it looks like El Universal’s new owners (whomever they are) prefer to keep losing money to scrapping censorship.

The full article is also available in Spanish. Read it if you have the chance.