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LATIN AMERICA | 19-04-2019 15:38

Journalism in Venezuela: the challenges, dangers of reporting

Luz Mely Reyes, the dircetor of Venezuelan independent news site Efecto Cocuyo remarked on the dangers and challenges of practicing journalism in Venezuela while in Rio de Janeiro following the release of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders released its annueal World Press Freedom Index.

Journalism is becoming "very complicated" in Venezuela where power outages, patchy internet and threats of violence have made reporting increasingly difficult, says Luz Mely Reyes. But she says it would be "a crime" to stop. 

The director of Venezuelan independent news site Efecto Cocuyo made the remarks in Rio de Janeiro after media watchdog Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index.

RSF ranked Venezuela 148th out of 180 counties -- five places lower than a year earlier as the Latin American country sank deeper into crisis. 

If the economic and political situation does not improve soon, Reyes tells AFP, she is not sure how Efecto Cocuyo and other Venezuelan media outlets will survive. 

What are the challenges? 

"In a country where power cuts can last 25, 30, 40 hours, where the internet can fail, and in terms of moving around, it's very complicated," says Reyes.

That makes it not only hard to report the news but also to disseminate stories to the public "so that citizens in areas with the most internet access as well as those in areas with the least can have this information."

Print media is also disappearing as the scarcity of basic resources such as ink and paper make it increasingly difficult to publish newspapers. 

"The journalism industry right now is battered, not only by government restrictions but also by the economic situation," says Reyes.  

"Even in Caracas, for example, a national newspaper such as The National no longer has a print circulation."  

Free media? 

"The Venezuelan government already blocks the internet domains of several media outlets that do investigations, takes television broadcasters off the air that it considers to be critical or foreign channels," says Reyes.

"Recently another of the measures the government has used is to prohibit radio media from referring to various situations and closed various radio programs."

Is it dangerous? 

"The government has not only deported foreign correspondents, but it also detains journalists, arbitrarily disappearing them," says Reyes.

"Attacks on journalists have been escalating and of course attacks can come from any person who believes he has authority."

Journalists have been charged with committing crimes, prevented from leaving the country, and threatened. 

Reyes herself has received threats on social media saying "people like me, journalists, we have to be physically eliminated."

"That's happened to me, but also to other journalists," she says. 

Is news worth it?

"It is very complicated because how are you going to keep going over time ... if there is no change in economic terms, if there is no political change that enables the country to return to democracy, this is one of the challenges that we have," says Reyes.

"It's journalism practically done with the nails. 

"But those of us who believe in journalism keep doing journalism in Venezuela because there are so many things that are happening, so many stories to tell, and it would be a crime not to tell them, despite all the attacks that we suffer.  

"Right now Venezuela needs thousands and thousands of journalists who can report what is happening." 

-TIMES/AFP 

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