President Lenin Moreno is putting his own brand on government-owned newspapers, television stations and news services, replacing Rafael Correa-era management with his own. On Wednesday, he named journalist and campaign aide Andrés Michelena general manager of public media.
Michelena replaces Munir Massuh, Correa’s media chief. A spokesperson for Moreno said that Xavier Lasso, second in command under Massuh, and Orlando Perez, editor of the El Telégrafo newspaper, were also terminated.
The change in management had been expected but, according to several journalists, it came sooner than planned as a result of columns by Correa in El Telégrafo criticizing Moreno, and a July 5 television interview with Correa, also critical of Moreno, using government facilities. Last week, an advisor to Moreno, Paúl Maldonado, Tweeted that “Under Correa’s management, government news media was converted into a propaganda machine and became worse than the private media that he opposes. It was a case of turning into a monster to fight the monster.”
The government owns two newspapers, El Telégrafo, and El Tiempo in Cuenca, four television channels, seven radio stations, a news agency and three magazines. Several of the media were previously private, seized by the Correa government on legal grounds and converted to government use.
During the presidential campaign, Moreno said he would consider selling several of the media outlets, returning them to private ownership.
Earlier on Wednesday, Moreno met with owners, publishers, and editors of eight newspapers, television and radio stations, asking for their help in the fight against corruption. He told them his government supports greater freedom of the press but cautioned that it comes with the “responsibility of transparency and objectivity.”