Although press freedom is guaranteed under Peruvian law, journalists are often harassed or attacked by security forces. Investigative journalism continues to be practiced in online media outlets, while social media is increasingly used to cover live news. Disinformation persists.
The Peruvian media is diverse, even though, in the capital, Lima, the predominant editorial line is one of support for the authoritarian coalition that took power in December 2022. In recent years, some previously reliable media outlets have started publishing disinformation. Investigative journalism has developed on nonprofit news websites but is rare in commercial media. The tabloid Trome is Peru’s best-selling newspaper, while Radioprogramas is the leading radio news programme. Because of the political crisis, most Peruvians are get their news from local media (radio or online) or from TikTok, and TV channel viewership has fallen.
Pedro Castillo was removed as president in December 2022 when he tried to dissolve Congress in response to its obstruction and its attempts to remove him from office for the past three months. He was replaced by Dina Boluarte, who formed an alliance with the ultra-conservatives who control Congress. The Congress elected new members to the Constitutional Court, which then issued a ruling in March that effectively ended any real separation of powers. Political polarisation persists. During demonstrations in favour of new elections in late 2022 and early 2023, security forces killed 48 civilians in the space of three months with the authoritarian regime’s consent.
The 1992 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and says it is an offence to suspend or close newspapers or prevent them from circulating freely. There is also a law on transparency and access to information, but it is often hard to enforce due to weak institutions, and conflicts of political and economic interests. In response to international criticism of police harassment of reporters covering protests, the government proposed a news coverage protocol, but it violates press freedom.
As a result of the pandemic, the economy contracted by 11% in 2020 and the proportion of Peruvians living in poverty grew to 30%. Journalists are among the most affected professional groups, especially those living outside the capital, where they work with no contracts or health benefits. Some privately owned media outlets have laid off employees due to smaller budgets and a drop in advertising revenue. Nonprofit online media have also cut staff. The number of freelancers has increased, especially in the field of photojournalism.
The public values the work of journalists, as they have played a key role, especially in recent years, in exposing corruption in politics and the judicial system. But the mainstream media has lost credibility since 2020 because of pseudo-scientific information disseminated during the pandemic, and disinformation during the presidential elections and the 2022-2023 political crisis.
Since the change of government in December 2022, the police have stepped up their use of excessive force against journalists covering arbitrary arrests, killings and violence during protests. In this context, the army has also spread disinformation and harassed journalists who do not toe the government line. The mainstream media have branded those participating in the December 2022 protests as terrorists and protesters, in turn, have attacked some of their reporters. Journalists have continued to be the targets of attacks by far-right activists since 2018, when journalistic investigations were published about the Odebrecht corruption case.