Although press freedom is guaranteed under Peruvian law, journalists are frequently intimidated through judicial harassment. Investigative journalism tends to disappear and disinformation is on the rise.
There is plurality in the Peruvian media, although in Lima the predominant editorial line is conservative in political and economic aspects. In recent years, some previously reliable media have fallen into disinformation, especially in electoral contexts. Investigative journalism has moved exclusively to non-profit digital media, like DL-Reporteros or Ojo Público. The tabloid Trome is the best-selling newspaper in the country, and Radioprogramas the main news program. Most Peruvians are informed through the radio or free-to-air TV channels, where news coverage is usually superficial.
In 2021, the rural teacher Pedro Castillo, an outsider of the economic and political elites, won the presidential election despite a strong media campaign against him. As a result of the disinformation campaign he was subjected to, Castillo distrusts the Lima press. The right-wing opposition parties, Fuerza Popular and Renovación Popular, and some civil society entities, have used the defense of press freedom to question the president because he does not usually give interviews or press conferences. Political polarization has worsened.
The 1992 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and states that any action that suspends, closes or prevents newspapers from circulating freely is a crime. There is also a law on transparency and access to information, even though in practical terms it is frequently difficult to enforce given the low institutionality and the various political and economic conflicts. During the first year of the pandemic, the Ministry of Justice underscored that the Penal Code punishes the dissemination of false information, but no person was sanctioned or prosecuted for this reason.
In 2020, due to a long quarantine, the economy fell 11 points in Peru, and the population living in poverty increased, reaching 30%. Journalists and communicators were among the professional groups with the most victims of Covid-19, the majority outside the capital, where they work informally (without contracts, health insurance, or legal benefits). Some private companies fired staff due to reduced budgets and advertising. However, non-profit digital media have maintained their activity.
The public values the work of the press, since it has been key - especially in recent years - in revealing the corruption of political leaders and the justice system. However, mainstream private media in the capital lost prestige in 2020 and 2021, both for spreading pseudoscience in the context of the pandemic, and for spreading misinformation during the electoral campaign.
Journalists are poorly protected by security forces, who even tend to attack them themselves. In addition, verbal and physical abuse by political activists against journalists increased. Since 2018, when journalistic investigations of politicians began in the Odebrecht case, far-right shock groups have verbally or physically attacked journalists.