Semana said Sunday that Colombia’s leading weekly “regrets” the “leaving” of renowned journalist Daniel Coronell, who was fired after questioning his magazine’s editorial integrity.
The magazine published an editorial in which it admitted that several “mistakes” led to its failure to publish a finished story on a controversial army order to double the number of combat kills and captures.
The editorial followed a wave of criticism about the magazine’s decision to inform the government rather than the public, and its subsequent firing of one of the country’s most respected journalists for threatening.
Semana admitted in the editorial that his magazine made a mistake not publishing the story, despite having all the evidence it needed to denounce the army order that spurred fears it could revive the mass killing of civilians.
The magazine also admitted that it was a mistake contacting President Ivan Duque‘s chief of staff to inform him about the evidence and the concerns within the military about controversial army chief Nicacio Martinez, who already is linked to more than two dozen homicides.
Semana’s third mistake, the magazine said, was waiting so long that the military commanders who warned the magazine about the army order that they feared they would get exposed.
Despite the admitted mistakes and the damage to his magazine’s credibility, editor-in-chief Alejandro Santos, the nephew of former President Juan Manuel Santos, did not say he would resign.
Semana publisher accused of lying
To make matters worse, Semana’s publisher was accused of lying to newspaper El Tiempo, Colombia’s leading daily that is also run by the Santos dynasty.
In an interview, publisher Felipe Lopez, the son of former President Alfonso Lopez, implied that Coronell had threatened to continue publishing about the issue in his weekly column, and that this spurred him to fire the journalist.
But according to Coronell, Lopez called him only to inform him that his column was canceled.
All Semana columnists used Sunday’s publication to express their solidarity with their former colleague in what seemed to be a collective attempt to save their credibility.
Readership continues to evaporate
The magazine’s response to the crisis apparently failed to convince readers as Semana’s social media accounts continued to lose fans and followers.
Multiple opinion leaders have announced to cancel their subscription of the magazine over the decision of Lopez to sack Coronell.
Journalists criticized the magazine’s version of events.
In its editorial Semana says “we regret the leaving of Daniel Coronell.” Coronell never “left,” he was removed for having the “audacity” to ask for an explanation in his column.
Journalist Felix de Bedout via Twitter
Semana’s integrity had already been challenged this year after its former news editor, Jose Fernando Hoyos, was accused of setting up a 2009 meeting between the corrupt Brazilian company and the then-deputy Transport Minister of former President Alvaro Uribe, Duque’s political patron.