The Chilean government has decided to shut down the state-run newspaper La Nacion, causing journalists to protest against the closure of the 95-year-old institution, arguing that it will leave control of the media in Chile with two private companies.
The newspaper, which has been published online since the print edition was stopped in 2010, has been trying to find a more independent editorial voice in the past two years. However, following a shareholders meeting on Monday, it was announced that the offices of La Nacion will be closed.
Representatives of the government, which owns 70% of the daily newspaper’s shares, voted to liquidate the company despite opposition from other shareholders and labour unions.
Government spokesperson, Andres Chadwick argued that government has no role to play in running media organisations, saying: “In the 20 years since the return of democracy, we have seen a newspaper La Nacion, which is still subordinate to the government in power.”
“We believe that this is not suitable and that the government does not need its own media outlets,” he said, expressing
President of the newspaper’s trade union, Nancy Aranciabia described the closure as “a serious attack on democracy and freedom of expression,” and said that the union would be launching a lawsuit.
"Once again, the common people, the citizens, were shut out of the distribution of power and resources, this time regarding an historic publication," read a statement by the newspaper’s union.
The 117 employees of La Nacion have expressed their concerns about the closure, protesting on a number of occasions and submitting an appeal to a court, arguing that the decision to close the paper is illegal.
The Union of Chilean Journalists said that the closure of the newspaper "is the culmination of an attack on press freedom” which has been waged since the election of President Sebastian Piñera. They added that Piñera had campaigned on the promise to close La Nacion.