As Venezuela tilts toward dictatorship, the conditions on the ground for journalists are deteriorating. Facing international sanctions and continued unrest in the streets, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has tightened his grip on power while forces loyal to his party attempt to curtail the independent press. Yesterday, CJR published a pair of stories that depict the issues facing reporters both local and international.
The New York Times’s Nick Casey has been barred from Venezuela since last fall. He spoke with CJR’s Meg Dalton about the Maduro government’s crackdown on journalists, and how he has continued to report from neighboring Colombia. Casey describes official attempts to discredit reporters’ work, and how those efforts have intensified as the country’s economic problems have devolved into a humanitarian crisis. Still, Casey tells CJR, “It’s far worse for Venezuelan journalists.”
One of those local journalists is Elyangélica González, whose 20-year career as a radio reporter in Venezuela came to an end this spring after she was beaten while covering a street protest and then harassed in the days that followed. Diego Senior and Jonathan Schienberg profile her experiences, and the difficult decision she made in leaving her native country. “What’s different now is that all these control methods have been radicalized, regularly changing facts in their favor, and converting victims into aggressors,” González says.
Maduro’s crackdown on the free press adds Venezuela to an ignoble list of countries where journalists face government-sanctioned obstacles to their work. Though the situations in places like Turkey, China, and Syria are unique to each nation, the result is similar. With a newly empowered constituent assembly loyal to Maduro, objective journalism in Venezuela will likely continue its decline.
Below, more on the depressing state of press freedoms in a country already over the brink.
- Notes from the collapse: “I had thought that being a foreign reporter protected me from the growing chaos in Venezuela,” the Associated Press’s Hannah Dreier wrote soon after leaving Caracas. “But with the country unraveling so fast, I was about to learn there was no way to remain insulated.”
- How it plays in Cuba: The Miami Herald’s Nora Gámez Torres reports on the way government-controlled news in Cuba offers disinformation on Venezuela.
- Tracking press freedom violations: The Committee to Protect Journalists’s Carlos Lauria says that “The political crisis in Venezuela has created an environment in which harassment and physical violence are part of the daily routine for many journalists.”
- The end of democracy: The Washington Post’s Jennifer L. McCoy explains the impact of Venezuela’s new governing structure.
Other notable stories
- The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker write that Donald Trump “seemed to have a lot he wanted to get off his chest” in an extended off-the-cuff session with reporters yesterday.
- In a move that should have happened long ago, CNN has severed ties with Jeffrey Lord after the Trump-defender who seemed to debase every panel on which he appeared made a Nazi reference online. Brian Stelter spoke with Lord just after the network announced his firing.
- Elon Green’s Behind the story series for CJR is always great, but his piece on Carvell Wallace’s GQ cover story on Mahershala Ali is especially excellent. The whole piece is worth it just for Wallace’s explanation of how the addition of “seems to” ruined a Shakespearean sentence.
- New York Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet will have to testify in a defamation lawsuit brought by Sarah Palin.
- Snapchat disappointed in its second quarter earnings report, and Recode’s Kurt Wagner has an overview. Try to spot the moment Facebook and Instagram began mirroring some of Snapchat’s features in the chart of the company’s daily users.
Pete Vernon is a CJR Delacorte Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.