Colombian journalist Daniel Pardo was fired by the website Kien&Ke [es] after writing a column [es] about the influence exercised by the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales in media like W Radio [es].
The text (also reproduced [es] in Pardo's personal blog), questioned the handling of Pacific Rubiales saying that “In general, in the media where Pacific shows up, the only way the company is mentioned is to praise or defend it”, and alleges that Pacific manipulates paid infomercials presented as journalism.
On October 22, Kien&Ke published a short note [es] reporting the decision to fire the journalist, stating it had asked Pardo for “documented proof”. The note explains: “The director of publication, María Elvira Bonilla, reiterated the urgency of sending proof. Daniel Pardo didn't send it, so the magazine dispensed with his contributions.”
Kien&Ke's note also quotes Héctor Mario Rodríguez (owner of the website Primera Página [es] and the source quoted by Pardo in his column), who allegedly contradicted the claims in his column. Contrary to this, Héctor Mario Rodríguez corroborated the information in an interview with Blu Radio, [es] and stated that what Daniel Pardo said in his column was completely true.
Consequently, many believe that this dismissal is a clear attack on freedom of the press. Netizens on Twitter have expressed many reactions, making Daniel Pardo, [es] Kien&Ke, [es] and Pacific Rubiales local trends on Twitter.
The journalist Claudia López (@CLOPEZanalista) [es] denounces the advertising methods of the company in question:
@CLOPEZanalista: Empresas como Pacific Rubiales no pautan comerciales. Pautan propaganda, es decir q se publiquen como periodísticos publireportajes sesgados
@CLOPEZanalista: Companies like Pacific Rubiales don't advertise through commercials. They publish propaganda, that is, they publish biased infomercials as journalism.
User Leo (@Pata_Leo) [es] criticizes the media:
@Pata_Leo: Y después, los medios salen a rasgarse las vestiduras hablando de “libertad de prensa” y “libertad de expresión”. El ejemplo empieza en casa
@Pata_Leo: And then, the media feigns indignation talking about “freedom of the press” and “freedom of expression”. The example starts at home.
Blogs and alternative media have also spoken up. La Silla Vacía [es] reported that an agency that handles advertising for Pacific Rubiales called them to buy a positive story about the oil company and its social responsibility. The website didn't do it. La Silla Vacía also published a table tracking the media coverage of Pacific Rubiales over the past three years and showing the advertising strategy.
Meanwhile, other blogs continue supporting the reporter and reproducing his column [es] in their virtual spaces.