September 23, 2014
La Nación newspaper changes top brass
Argentina’s main conservative newspaper yesterday announced on its front page a series of major changes in its executive leadership. Former CEO of telecom company Personal Guillermo Rivaben, 47, will take over, starting March 1, as La Nación’s general manager, in charge of the group’s businesses from the daily to digital and magazines.
Further down the chain of command but perhaps more relevant to the paper’s profile and readership, Carlos “Chany” Guyot will replace longtime editor-in-chief Héctor D’Amico who is poised to become the group’s new chief of Corporate Communications. Carlos M. Reymundo Roberts and Claudio A. Jacquelin will be La Nación’s news editors starting March 1.
The announcement left the market rife with speculation on the ins and outs of the change of leadership. While the paper’s statement underlines Rivaben’s solid background in telecommunications and his contribution to Personal “becoming the number one mobile phone company in Argentina in terms of invoicing,” the decision is doubly significant as the telecom exec will replace executive director Luis Saguier, one of the paper’s main shareholders, who will keep a “monitoring position” of the group’s businesses, from the daily to the magazines and online content. Saguier is currently engaged in monitoring Dridco, Covedisa and Impremedia, other companies of the La Nación group.
Following the return of democracy in Argentina in 1984, La Nación combined the new moderate and democratic editorial line with an inherited conservative rank often associated to the ideology of the military dictatorships.
The first obvious note to make on the changes announced yesterday is that the group will have younger executives in charge of its businesses and news content.
Guyot, 44, joined La Nación in 1996 and worked in several departments before making it to Art Director in 2006. Three years later, he became the company’s first Innovation Director, a position which allowed him to develop and deploy a series of processes meant to update the La Nación products and the newsroom. In 2011, Guyot was promoted to News Editor and joined the paper’s exec leadership; he was a key member of the team behind the daily’s new print layout, which came out in 2012 to great approval from readers and advertisers.
Guyot takes over from D’Amico with two news editors who were also picked from the ranks of La Nación staff: Roberts has been with the paper since 1983, working in different departments as well, from Latin America correspondent to editor of the Enfoques supplement. He is currently a co-director of the Journalism Master’s degree programme offered by La Nación and Universidad Di Tella. Jacquelin, 51, also started writing for the paper in 1983 and went on to become editor of the Politics and General Information desks in 1997.
Media analysts see a particular concern for new technologies behind the group’s announcement. “It’s obvious La Nación is a newspaper with corporate tradition and a rather conservative line. But this is a generational change: the new leaders are professionals under 50 and their age truly marks a change that was already ongoing in the newsroom,” Conicet media researcher Martín Becerra told the Herald. “I know from interviews I’ve conducted with La Nación’s executives and journalists over the last 10-15 years that the paper has been constantly renewing their staff and their target readership too. This announcement just shows that the tidal wave started at the bottom of the pyramid and finally reached the peak: La Nación’s exec team,” Becerra added.
“The first remark I can make is that the paper seems to bring new technologies into sharper focus. The arrival of a telecom veteran and the promotion of an innovation champion are striking and speak loudly about the company’s concern for a more tech-bent approach,” UBA professor and Communication Policies expert Guillermo Mastrini told the Herald. “I believe they’re targetting younger audiences, let’s not forget that today’s young readers are less and less inclined to get their news from printed media,” Mastrini added.
Media analysts and researchers agree that La Nación might see a format change in the future, from the current broadsheet to a tabloid format. “It is a distinct possibility that has been discussed and hinted at in the past. It’s too early to anticipate the company’s next moves, but do not expect major changes in their editorial approach or policies,” Mastrini said.
“La Nación’s century-long history has seen the paper through many changes. Although this is merely a speculation, I image there will be some layout change in the future. According to my sources, their editorial line will remain unaltered, but Guyot’s arrival has invited educated guesses about incoming aesthetic changes. I would also pay attention to any updates the new leaders might bring in the online structure, where La Nación is already positioned as one of the best newspaper in Argentina,” Becerra told the Herald.
La Nación is Argentina’s leading conservative paper and the country’s only daily still published in broadsheet format. It was founded in 1870 and has a daily circulation of 160,000, which is about 20 percent of the daily newspaper circulation in Buenos Aires; the paper is also distributed nationwide and around the world. La Nación owns part of the Diarios y Noticias (DyN) newswire company and publishes several magazines, including Gestión (with a 50 percent stake), Rolling Stones Argentina, Ahora Mamá, Ohlala, and El Jardín. La Nación is also a joint owner, with Grupo Clarín and the Argentine government, of Papel Prensa, the largest Argentine producer of newsprint. La group’s digital media properties include several sites, among them lanacion.com.ar and canchallena.com.