Photo: AGV

After 60 years of publishing history, Trujillo newspaper El Tiempo canceled its print edition on July 31, 2018. However, this doesn’t mean farewell, but rather the beginning of a brand new stage:  

“…we refuse to yield; we’ll keep reticent and reinvent ourselves. Today we close an informative window, but we consolidate another, one that offers the most relevant news of the region through a web portal and social networks that allow us to interact with our followers.”

Sadly, this has become a common thing in Venezuela in recent times: Newspapers are forced to drop their paper editions and take shelter on the Internet. Others are struggling with the small reserves of newsprint they have left, forced to cut days in order to survive for as long as possible.

The deliberate plan to suffocate papers (or Newsprint-geddon in CC lingo) has caused at least 40 newspapers to cease printing between 2013 and May of 2018, according to IPYS Venezuela.

Now it seems it has indirectly reached the inside of the government’s communicational hegemony.

The deliberate plan to suffocate papers (or Newsprint-geddon in CC lingo) has caused at least 40 newspapers to cease printing between 2013 and May of 2018.

In Barquisimeto, the Ciudad BQTO newspaper announced they’ll stop their daily edition and become a weekly from now on. It previously reduced its number of pages from 16 to eight. Another problem for the paper is the declining revenues caused for the lack of banknotes, given that people can’t buy it and many kiosks and street vendors don’t have points of sale.

Earlier in July, it was reported that sister newspaper Ciudad CCS  was having issues of their own (but unlike its guaro counterpart, there’s no official confirmation from them). Back in better times, it published a 32-page edition that was handed out for free in the capital’s Metro stations.

Unlike other SIBCI-owned newspapers like Correo del Orinoco or the PSUV’s own mouthpiece Cuatro-F, the Ciudad papers are handled by local or State governments.

Newspapers have been affected by two other fundamental reasons: shortage of banknotes and exchange controls, resulting in lack of dollars. (Surprised that international providers don’t believe in the Petro!) Nicolás Maduro addressed the issue by blaming sanctions and promising a new newsprint factory. This idea has been tried before, resulting in white noise, an inoperative / unfinished / underfunded / nonexistent paper factory.  

In Barquisimeto, the newsprint shortage has crippled local papers in reaching the streets: El Informador only publishes from Sundays to Wednesdays and La Prensa de Lara has called off all weekend editions. Let’s not forget that El Impulso is digital-only since February of this year.

From Tachira State to Aragua State and Margarita Island, the effects of Newsprint-geddon are spreading all over Venezuela at a breakneck speed.

Newspapers have been affected by two other fundamental reasons: shortage of banknotes and exchange controls, resulting in lack of dollars.

Not even the last remaining nationwide non-hegemony newspaper El Nacional (which just celebrated its 75th anniversary) has been safe from it, as this recent article from Reuters’ Vivian Sequera and Angus Berwick indicates:

“Due to lack of paper, El Nacional says its circulation has dwindled to 20,000 copies, just one-tenth of what it was a decade ago. (El Nacional’s editor-in-chief Patricia) Spadaro said a nationalized company that controls paper distribution, the Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Corporation, didn’t sell to El Nacional. Instead, the newspaper buys from a joint-venture of major Latin American newspapers, importing supplies by ship…”

As the paper struggles with “…one-fifth of the 2,000 employees it had over a decade ago”, it faces another threat: A possible hostile takeover by Diosdado Cabello. Even if he lost a lawsuit in the U.S. against the Wall Street Journal, the ANC Speaker keeps pressuring both El Nacional and fellow paper Tal Cual. And he even teased a new name on State TV.

Even if Newsprint-geddon is a very Venezuelan method of media clampdown, it’s just a part of a larger worldwide trend against the free press, which should be a great concern for all of us. As late Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuscinski once described journalistic work as “…not stepping on cockroaches, but turning the light on to see how they run into hiding.”

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  1. @Marc: you run on the myth that newsprint paper kills trees. That’s not true.
    On the subject of printed newspapers disappearing globally, that’s true. I let the audience Google newsprint paper production. It continues to decline.

    But Venezuela is, as usual, another beast of its own.

    El Nacional

    They show BsF 250.000,00 and BsS 250 as the cost of today’s issue. It’s too bad that I can’t insert a picture. I have read this again and again.

    There could be an ”honest” mistake. They took 3 zeros off instead of 5. But I don’t believe in these mistakes. The cost of the newspaper as of Aug 20 will be something like USD 6, instead of today’s USD 8 cents (I’m happy to be trashed here if I made a math mistake)

    The price of a newspaper cannot be 8 cents and be economically sustainable. It’s simply impossible that the sales value is under USD 1 (One Dollar US). This is like me trying to go to the moon by myself. The sales price of printed newspapers is well over USD 3/print, in average (globally speaking)

    So, who is cheating whom?

    Finally, newspapers worldwide have become the crying place of socialists, progressive-left wingers (a.k.a. Communists)

      • Thanks so much. This deal around the new currency Soverano is going to be a killer to the vast majority of Venezuelans but they appear completely unaware or indifferent. Most businesses will adjust prices accordingly.

        As I said before there is no way you can get any money to sustain El Nacional with only an 8 cents of a USD. Maybe they finance their finance their operations with hefty advertising fees. And lots of USD from Madburro.

  2. You will notice that the alphabet news outlets in the United States are all howling about the fact that US citizens have access to “drones o’ death” and Maduro’s near miss with the Grim Reaper… but not a peep about their beloved Leftists clampdown on news in Venezuela.

    Don’t be fooled for a minute. Maduro has his acolytes in the US.

  3. “This deal around the new currency Soverano is going to be a killer to the vast majority of Venezuelans but they appear completely unaware or indifferent. Most businesses will adjust prices accordingly.”

    According to rumor here, the roll-out of the new currency is going to be delayed until some time in September. I haven’t seen anything about the story yet on the interwebs but I’m looking.

  4. MRubio, yes, this was delayed already. That might be an additional temporary relief. For those living in Venezuela, you should pack up as much as you can. When people realize the new pricing of everything there will be blood like in the movie. The arithmetic of the five zeros will not be respected by everyone, example El Nacional, the infamous newspaper of the hypocrite Mr Otero Silva.

  5. I am ignorant about the new money system.
    3,672,105 is the exchange that Dolartoday is currently showing. People that I help have told me that they have been able to get over 4 million Bolivars to the Dollar from some money exchangers.
    If the new Bolivar is going to revalue by removing 5 zeros, will the new exchange be 36.72 New Bolivars to the dollar? I am moving the decimal 5 places to the left.
    I am assuming that there are no coins as the metal would be worth more for melt value than currency.
    What happens to wages? What is the current minimum wage? It has been so low that I have stopped considering it as income for people that I help that are still working.
    As long as the government continues to print money, the hyperinflation will continue.
    The following was posted on the Washington Post as a comment. It is simple and shows the uncontrolled growth of the Venezuelan money supply. The regime is so opaque with reporting statistics that I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers are actually worse.

    4 days ago
    Milton Friedman and the Venezuelan hyperinflation (1 of 2)

    According to Friedman:

    “…substantial inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon…”

    Week ending Currency Liquidez Monetaria
    20/07/2018 31,095,279,181,000 2,720,205,558,955,000
    22/06/2018 27,101,720,928,000 1,645,602,161,808,000
    Difference (4 weeks) 3,993,558,253,000 1,074,603,397,147,000
    Increase 12.8% 39.5%

    Equivalent $ 1,113,754 299,693,557


    Exchange rate (parallel market), Bs/$ 3,585,674


    Exchange rate (parallel market), Bs/$ 3,585,674

    • There are some other pages that surfaced and “stole DT’s monopoly” after that 5-6 week period when they reported the $ being only 200.000 bs, there are even some pages that average the amount that many other sites put, such as @MonitorDolarVe on twitter, so people around the country index their prices to that amount desperately trying to scrounge more bolivars to keep their businesses afloat.

      The conversion will mean simply more inflation, cash bills are valued now by up to 500 or even 600% of their printed value, because bachaquero chabizta mafias in the frontiers are very willing to pay that much for those juicy notes.

      The inflation will also rise because prices will be pushed up by rounding the numbers, bus fares will go from 20.000 bs the “short” to at least 0,5 bsS (50.000 bs) because there won’t be any lower-denomination coins or bills, and the very likely shortage of coins will surely bring another immediate raise in the bus fares to 1bsS (100.000 bs), which would be five times the amount they’re charging now, and from the transport costs, everything else will get affected too.

      I won’t be surprised to see a black/white copied page on 10bsS (1.000.000 bs) by the month’s end.

  6. Newspapers are a low priority for most venezuelans nowadays , just making it , at a plain subsistence level is a feat , people do get their news but its largely word of mouth or by socia media and the internet , word of mouth isnt as accurate but the message grows in the telling and that doesnt favour the regime. because public anger against the govt is at an all time high …even by those who still profess to be Chavistas …….. the hegemon might have all the means to peddle their news but their credibility is nill to negligible , anyone can see the lies in their daily lives….live and direct !!……Newspapers are a middle class / elderly people concern . Even the presumed attempt on Maduros life ( more like a self scenified attempt to shore up the lagging enthusiasm of their followers ) didnt make much waves in ordinary peoples minds , another regime show ….who cares !!, they used all their hegemon resources to try and drum up public indignation but most people in the street ignored the news , great they get Maduro and we get Delci as replacement … big deal !!

  7. Folks, I used El National because of the prices now and then. I don’t care about the piece of crap.

    I’m not Milton, although I reckon I follow his inflation theories (I explained in another blog)

    The point is with the smaller currency denomination being BsS 0.5 and the projected ROE after Aug 20, many who live in Venezuela are fucked, once again, and Venezuela’s people have become Bovenzuelans.

    Please do the maths and forget Madburro misadventures for one moment.

  8. It has never backfored, it has gone all according the plan since day one.

    All the “dissident chabiztas” crying and whining today are simply enchufados that lost their plug.

  9. Freedom House recently said that only 12% or so of the world’s population has a truly free press, basically concentrated in the U.S./Canada/Australia/parts of Western Europe.

  10. All press is biased, even if we call it “free” – The US is not a good example for free press with one or two exceptions, WSJ is one. For the most part they’re liberal to far left. In Europe you have to read multiple versions of the same news, in different languages, then you make up your mind.


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