Photo El Impulso retrieved.

In 2018 alone, 30 media outlets have closed in Venezuela. 25 of them are newspapers.

With a new digital campaign aimed at decrying the dramatic number of fallen outlets in recent years (Caracas Chronicles has covered this troubling trend), there’s a new report from the Venezuelan chapter of NGO Transparency International, giving us a look on how the direct official pressure and our economic crisis have caused a huge drop in the amount of media voices available in the country.

Under the title of “Economic suffocation: the new form of power censorship,” Transparencia Venezuela tells us the story of eight different outlets with the very same fate: pushed into extinction by a communicational hegemony.

For example, there’s my hometown newspaper, El Impulso, forced to stop printing since February, going just digital ever since. Even though the lack of newsprint was the main cause of its ordeal, other factors, like reduction in advertising revenues, play a role. El Impulso, mind you, refuses to give in, with its staff reduced to a minimum.

You can see the same pattern in the remaining cases: from Versión Final in Zulia, to La Verdad in Monagas and Tal Cual in Caracas, founded by the late Teodoro Petkoff.

Interestingly enough, the hegemony itself has been a collateral victim of its own strategy: Five versions of its Ciudad newspaper have been out of newsprint (Maracay, Maturin, Portuguesa, Barinas and Orinoco), while two became weeklies (Barquisimeto and Valencia).

The report also shows, for example, the many obstacles press workers and its main union (SNTP) face just to renew its main board. The CNE is the only one, by legal mandate, who can organize elections of professional guilds and workers’ unions in the B.R. of V., so you can imagine how it all flows when such an elemental piece of organization everywhere is utterly centralized.

The Red Friday deepened the many problems that journalists endure: less resources to do their coverage, lack of transportation and wages that cannot survive hyperinflation.

And the hegemony is just fine with this, as economist Tamara Herrera told Transparencia: “In the case of print media, there wasn’t even the slightest interest of negotiating or prolong the life of those outlets. In this model of over-regulated economy, there’s no interest in promoting journalism nor free speech.”

This report also shares the resilience and determination of those who refuse to give up, who reject the chance to sell out, who keep on fighting in their own way: by reporting the news.

The report is only in Spanish, but it’s well worth a read and a share.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Gustavo, I understand you live in Barquisimeto. Could you try to tell foreign readers what how the median Venezuelan selling empanadas or driving a taxi or whatever gets their news from?
    I suppose at this stage more than half the population just gets by what they see on their mobile phones with very very crappy connection to their Facebook stuff, some Whatsapp messages and the like. What else?

  2. Besides the strangulation of Freedom of Expression, – ( not just printed press, also freedom of speech through Chavismo’s Reign of Terror) – there are simply less customers to buy these products: 3 Million forced exiles = 3 Million less readers. Increased poverty, even hunger = less cash to buy”luxury” items such as newspapers. What do you buy if you’re poor and hungry? A Tal Cual paper with Vzla’s depressing news, or a delicious arepa or empanada, even a greasy perro caliente to alleviate stomach cramps, huh?

    Furthermore, the world has gone digital. Even 3rd world, under-developed, poor nations like Vzla. Most people have smart phones, even in Petare or Barquisimeto. News are free and readily available on countless websites, papers are digital. Thus, printed press diminishes even more, not just because of the repressive narco-dictatorship. I dunno about you, but I haven’t bought a paper or magazine in over a decade. It’s a lot easier to access news online, from numerous sources, not just the voluminous yet limited “El Universal” or “El Nacional” that we used to buy. Those days are gone.

    • Internet connection in Vz has gotten much worse since that article was published six months ago, you probably have heard this already from your contacts. One venezuela IT professional now working in Spain told me that CANTV(who controls the link to the outside world) has severely limited access for all internet providers in Vz. Another IT professional who still lives in Vz(and has good contacts with management of his ISP) had a contracted download speed of 10 Mbps but was only able to eke out 0.16Mbps, and he has been completely cut off for the last week. It is worth noting that, as usual, Caracas appears to be MUCH better served than the rest of the country.

    • @Kepler: how and who finances Internet in Venezuela 🇻🇪? This should be the real question about censorship. Then respond to the question, won’t the owner feel pride ownership and decide who has access or not.

      Ask yourself why even in the spots where you have the Internet, would this be a public service? YES or NO?

      In other words you Venezuelan think Internet comes free for all, from God. And subsequently you have the divine right to access it everywhere. Just because…

    • @Kepker: For instance, Alejandro Machado is nice enough to allow us to write our ideas in his CC blog. He has the right to censorship here.

      There are a bunch of other ”people” trolls that contribute to the site, they are always the same. Very seldom if ever, they write new ideas on how to pull Venezuela out or from the SH.

      Alejandro is a great collector of those ideas too.

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