Photojournalist is new Diena editor

RIGA — The revolving door of the Diena editor position is spinning again, with photographer Ilmārs Znotiņš being hired for the Latvian newspaper’s top spot on Tuesday.

The newspaper’s editor Sergejs Ancupovs and website editor Gunita Ogriņa were both dismissed on Aug. 5, the same day 51 percent of the newspaper’s parent company Dienas Medijii was purchased by by businessman Viesturs Koziols, announced at a press conference on Thursday, with 49 percent remaining with the U.K.-based Rowland family’s Baltic Media Investments Fund.

The purchase has sparked concerns that Latvia’s largest newspaper by circulation and for many a beacon of integrity in country known for unscrupulous journalism and widespread political corruption would slant its coverage in favor of pro-business For a Good Latvia (Par labu Latviju) union given Koziols’ connections to Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way head and Riga Deputy Mayor Ainārs Šlesers. Koziols admits that he is a friend and business partner of Šlesers and a Par labu Latviju supporter.

Koziols has assured that the newspaper’s integrity would be maintained, however, and Znotiņš said he would make sure his newsroom was objective in its coverage.

“Diena will not be a political advocate,” Znotiņš said in his first speech to the newsroom on Tuesday, later published on the website. “Newspapers must have editorial independence so we can earn the reader’s trust.”

Znotiņš worked as a photojournalist at Diena from 1995-2006 before leaving to work freelance. Znotiņš will be the first photojournalist to edit the newspaper, and it’s unclear if his hire will push the newspaper in a more photo-heavy direction.

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