Under Threat and Repression, Venezuelan Journalism Thrives (UPDATED)

Chavismo is on a campaign to shut down freedom of expression, targeting international and national media outlets to keep quiet what's going on in Venezuela. The irony is that, while this goes on, Venezuelan journalism shines.

Photo: El Nacional, retrieved.

UPDATE (April 16th, 2019): Deutsche Welle is back on Venezuelan cable and satellite TV. Removed and reinstated without explanations. Our original piece reads as follows:

In case you were wondering, the hegemony is still closing down those news channels that thwart their narrative: The Spanish-speaking version of Deutsche Welle (DW) was taken off the air from cable and satellite TV this weekend by state regulator CONATEL, according to the National Press Workers’ Union (SNTP). Caracas Chronicles confirmed this independently.

Last year, the channel suffered a short-term outage while showing a documentary about our migrant crisis. More recently, they started a daily 15-minute special report about what’s happening here, something the hegemony obviously didn’t like.

DW’s general director Peter Limbourg is asking CONATEL to reestablish their signal and promised to “continue to do everything we can to inform our viewers and users in Venezuela.” Nicolás Maduro’s administration remains, for the time being, quiet about this.

And if that happens with international news agencies, imagine how independent media in Venezuela faces a repression that, in some cases, is directly targeted. An example is ElPitazo.com, which up to last year was suffering repeated blocking of its website with no official explanation.

That doesn’t keep them from doing their job, both online and in local radio. They’ve established alliances with local and foreign colleagues for a series of investigative pieces, tackling diverse issues, from human trafficking to how PetroCaribe works as a diplomatic bribe system.

And if that happens with international news agencies, imagine how independent media in Venezuela faces a repression that, in some cases, is directly targeted.

One of their more detailed reports (in collaboration with non-profit platform Connectas) was recognized with the Ortega y Gasset Award 2019 for “Best Multimedia Coverage.” Titled “La Generación del Hambre” (The Hunger Generation) it takes on one of the silent tragedies Venezuelans face today, following several children born in 2013, and keeping track of their physical development, seriously undermined by malnourishment as a consequence of our crisis.

The award is not only a revindication for El Pitazo, but for those local outlets that continue their labor under threat, under economic and logistical difficulties, and continuous harassment by security forces, with a declining number of qualified journalists who remain active in Venezuela. Last year, news site Armando.Info received the International Center for Journalists Knight award for its research on the CLAP program, and Efecto Cocuyo got both the Gabo award and the Wan-Infra 2018 award, for its Venezuela a la Fuga piece, a research on the journey Venezuelan migrants go through while looking for a future, done hand-in-hand with Bogota’s El Tiempo.

Venezuelan journalists work hard and establish links with agencies from all over the region to provide news, that’s what turns them into targets, gets them mentioned directly by chavismo leaders, even makes them leave the country and become, by the way, the very definition of journalistic integrity.

Our gratitude and acclaim to you, guys.