Index 2024
110/ 180
Score : 51.3
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
80/ 180
Score : 60.51
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

In Ecuador, journalists work in a climate of growing insecurity, self-censorship and hostility, marked by the rise of criminal gangs and drug cartels, as well as an increase in assaults, threats, attacks and even murders.

Media landscape

El Comercio and El Universo are the two leading newspapers in Ecuador, where the practice of journalism is being impacted by the climate of insecurity and economic difficulties. Online media are trying to take on investigative reporting, but their business model is not solid enough, as evidenced by the recent closure of the Los 4 Pelagatos news site. 

Political context

President Rafael Correa’s three consecutive terms (2007-2017) were disastrous for press freedom. He constantly tried to control the media’s agenda and transformed public service media into state-run media, not hesitating to attack critical journalists personally and publicly and starting countless conflicts between the government and the independent press. After an institutional crisis under the Lasso administration, new elections, during which the candidate (and former journalist) Fernando Villavicenci was brutally murdered, brought DAniel Noboa to power in 2023. Despite the return to a relative normalisation of relations between the government and certain sector of the press, tensions and political polarisation are intensifying again.

Legal framework

The Organic Law on Communication (LOC), enacted in 2013, has been diverted from its original purpose and often backfired against journalists. It has been used, for example, to justify dismissals, defamation suits and fines imposed on reporters. But the LOC’s most critical aspects were reformed under Lasso. For example, the notion of “media lynching” and the role of the media supervisor were removed, as was article 10 on the ethical regulation of the practice of journalism.

Economic context

The traditional media business model has been hit hard by a series of political and economic factors compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many newspapers, such as La Hora or the state-owned daily El Telégrafo, now only exist online, many radio stations have dropped their news slots, and even the leading daily El Comercio has laid off many of its employees. The number of news sites is on the rise, but they have yet to establish a solid business model. 


Recent years have been difficult for Ecuadorean journalism, due to an increase in attacks linked to a surge in drug-related crime and to election-fuelled tension. The frequent death threats against journalists and attacks on newsrooms point to structural violence and impunity, which affect the profession and, more broadly, Ecuadorean society as a whole. In border regions such as the provinces of Esmeraldas and El Oro, and in ports where cartels operate, local journalists increasingly censor themselves, creating news and information "black holes” in those regions. A raid by drug traffickers on the TC Televisión channel’s headquarters in Guayaquil in 2023, in which journalists and other employees were taken hostage, was symptomatic of the wave of violence against Ecuador’s media.