|Education||Central University of Ecuador|
|Occupation||television journalist, investigative journalist|
Janet Hinostroza is an Ecuadoran television journalist and one of the best known personalities on Ecuadorian television. She is the anchor on a morning news program, “La Mañana de 24 Horas,” and was the creator and anchor of the long-running investigative news program “30 Plus,” which aired on Teleamazonas for more than a decade, investigating such subjects as human trafficking, arms trafficking, government and police corruption, and extrajudicial killings.
Hinostroza has been a major target and opponent of the Ecuadoran government in its efforts to control the nation’s news media, and has also been a recurring topic of President Rafael Correa's weekly TV and radio talks, which usually last several hours. Correa has referred to her dismissively as “blondie.” In 2012, after Hinostroza reported on a suspicious loan by the state bank Cofiec to a businessman allegedly associated with a cousin of Correa, she received death threats and took a leave of absence for safety reasons.
Early life and education
Hinostroza is from Quito, the next to youngest of seven children of Quiteño and Ibarreña Hinostroza. “I always wanted to be a journalist since I can remember,” she has said. “I was always a very shy girl, so when I announced my desire to be a journalist, my family, and especially my father, were very surprised.” She attended Universidad Central and then studied social communication at Universidad Internacional.
After her graduation, Hinostroza found work as a national news reporter on TC TV, a cable TV channel in Ecuador. She spent eight years as a reporter in Colombia, where her encounter with investigative journalism led her to feel that her own country “needed more investigative journalism.” After her return to Ecuador, she created a program dedicated to investigative journalism, “30 Plus,” which aired on the private Teleamazonas channel. She was the anchor of “30 Plus” from 2004 to 2014. It was the only program of its type in Ecuador. Hinostroza stated that “30 Plus” had no competition, but added that she wished it did, because the Ecuadorian people needed more of this kind of television fare.
Hinostroza is also the longtime host of the morning news program “La Mañana de 24 Horas,” which is broadcast daily on Teleamazonas.
In addition, she hosts a radio program on 98.1 FM Mundo, is the local correspondent for the international TV network Univision, and writes a column for the newspaper Hoy. She manages a production company that produces journalistic programming and audiovisual products. She has stated that she prefers behind-the-scenes investigative journalism to interviewing on camera.
Hinostroza reported in 2011 on a woman who had been charged with showing disrespect to Correa and his government. After the report was broadcast, the government ordered Teleamazonas to devote 10 minutes of Hinostroza’s program time to a rebuttal by an official government spokesman. Hinostroza has been frequently targeted with such pre-emptions.
When Correa offered asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in September 2012, Hinostroza called it “a good move politically for Ecuador—because Assange represents not only freedom of expression, but someone who stands up to America and Correa is using him to hurt the US….it’s not about press freedom.”
Bank scandal and leave of absence
After presenting a report on an apparent case of government corruption on “La Mañana de 24 Horas” in 2012, Hinostroza received a number of anonymous, threatening phone calls. After receiving a call from an unidentified stranger who detailed her young son’s daily movements and threatened to kidnap him, Hinostroza decided to take a leave of absence from the news program, which was temporarily taken off the air. She explained that she had spent years enduring insults, but that her family should not have to endure them. The threat to her son, she stated, was “the drop that spilled the cup” (i.e., the straw that broke the camel’s back).
The case in question involved a loan by the state-owned Cofiec Bank, then headed by Pedro Delgado Campaña, an Argentinian second cousin of Correa, to a businessman, Gastón Duzac, who later defaulted on the loan. Hinostroza’s reporting uncovered irregularities in the loan and linked Delgado to Duzac. After her report was broadcast, the government compelled her to devote ten minutes of her program to a speech in which a government representative accused her of disrespecting the president.
Hinostroza has said that Ecuador’s then interior minister, José Serrano, after hearing about the threats that forced her off the air, immediately offered her protection, but she turned down the offer because “I do not think that an honest journalist should have to do his or her job with bodyguards.” Correa himself maintained that the government was “seriously investigating” the threats against Hinostroza and “expressed solidarity” with her, but he added that he still considered her “a politician disguised as a journalist.” Hinostroza said that despite the threats, ”we won’t give up, this is an opportunity to invent new ways to do journalism and in Ecuador we are figuring out how to do it.” She added that the only thing that could weaken Correa’s power to silence the media would be if “the money runs out, and I don’t know if we are near it.”
During Hinostroza’s absence from “La Mañana de 24 Horas,” she continued to appear on “30 Plus” and on special news reports.
State Department briefing
In November 2013, the U.S. State Department hosted Hinostroza, who briefed officials on “press freedom challenges.” The officials “expressed concerns about the plight of journalists worldwide and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to freedom of expression.” Acting Assistant Secretary of State Uzra Zeya praised Hinostroza and other awardees for their “courage” and “commitment to speaking truth to power.”
End of “30 Plus” run
“30 Plus” ended its nearly 11-year run on January 11, 2014. Hinostroza explained that investigative journalism “has never been profitable” and that in recent years, the budget of “30 Plus” had fallen every year, eventually making it impossible to continue production. Another factor was that “now the doors of public institutions are hundred percent closed” to Teleamazonas, a situation she characterized as “outrageous, unacceptable, and unbelievable” in a country claiming to be a democracy with “full freedom of expression.”
Comments on government and media
Hinostroza has said that Ecuador’s government is “not interested in having a free press” and “has made confrontation of the press a state policy.” It has, according to her, “employed different tactics to silence the press, including regulations and legislation….it’s a government that wants to do many good things for people but is violating the law. So that’s why they need a silent press.”
Hinostroza has complained about the Ecuadoran government’s introduction of the legal concept of “media lynching,“ meaning “a concerted effort of media and journalists to damage the reputation of a public institution or an individual.” She has explained this concept as follows: “if I break some story about corruption of a public official or a public entity, and that investigation is followed” by reports on the same matter by another news outlet, Ecuadoran law considers this “a concerted effort to disseminate information that damages the reputation of an individual or entity” and, thus, a punishable offense.
Correa, according to Hinostroza, “has viewed the press as the enemy from the moment he took office. He considers us his only enemy because there is no political opposition” and “says we conspire against him, but all we've done is expose corruption in his government or been critical.”
Other professional activities
Honors and awards
She has received 3 international awards and 11 national awards for her journalism.
In 2013, she won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). When she traveled to New York to accept the award, pro-Correa protesters picketed outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel “chanting and carrying signs branding Hinostroza a traitor and a liar.” In Ecuador, "virulent attacks on social media spiked against her.” Some of the Ecuadoran protesters outside the Waldorf-Astoria described Hinostroza as “a shill for the U.S. government” whose “activities were undermining their country.”
Upon accepting the CPJ award, Hinostroza described “30 Plus” as “the only investigative show currently on the air in Ecuador,” adding that “I cannot air very controversial issues as I did in the past,” partly because “the government has banned officials from talking to the press, and it’s not allowing access to information.” She also stated that Ecuador was “going through a difficult time,” when powerful people had “taken over the word and…turned the right to express oneself freely into a public service, bound and controlled by political power.”
In a video made in connection with the CPJ award, Hinostroza noted that there were no longer any investigative units in any Ecuadorian media companies, owing largely to government pressure.
After Hinostroza was presented with the CPJ award, Sen. Patrick Leahy paid tribute to her on the floor of the U.S. Senate during the 2013-14 session, describing her as “a courageous Ecuadoran journalist.” Healy said she had “attracted the wrath of the Ecuadoran authorities” and cited this as an “example of a steady deterioration of democratic principles in Ecuador.
Hinostroza’s husband is Juan Fernando Cevallos. They have two children, Paula and Joaquin.
- "Janet Hinostroza: “Mi compromiso es con la gente”". Salud total. Apr 3, 2012.
- Solano, Gonzalo (Dec 7, 2013). "Journalists: Rising hostility to press in Ecuador". The Big Story.
- "Threatened Ecuadoran journalist leaves news program". Committee to Protect Journalists. September 20, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
- "CPJ International Press Freedom Awards 2013". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
- "Janet Hinostroza: Una mujer sin imposibles". Revista Hogar.
- "Janet Hinostroza, Ecuador". CPJ.
- "Correa revela que la amenazada no fue Janeth Hinostroza sino su suegro". La Republica. Sep 22, 2012.
- "Janet Hinostroza Out of the TV Because of Threats". Ecuador Times. Sep 20, 2012.
- Sharp, Naomi (Nov 26, 2013). "Fighting for press freedom in Ecuador". Colombia Journalism Review.
- "4 journalists honored for courage". Politico. Nov 26, 2013.
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