Newsprint shortage forces regional dailies to skip editions in Venezuela

The current shortage of newsprint in Venezuela has caused a crisis among print publications that is hurting regional newspapers the most. According to El País, at least three regional dailies have been forced to suspend their operations since early August due to the lack of printing paper. Some of the affected newspapers have circulated for decades, like El Sol, in the city of Maturín, in the state of Monagas, and Antorcha, in El Tigre, in the state of Anzoátegui.

Other newspapers, like La Hora or El Caribazo, in the state of Nueva Esparta, have stated they are finding it difficult to continue publishing due to the shortage.

The problem, according to Rogelio Díaz, spokesman for the Regional Press Bloc, is related to the hurdles newspapers have in purchasing foreign currencies to import paper in a country where, since 2003, a currency exchange system impedes the free purchase of foreign currencies.

Díaz told newspaper El Nacional that the regional dailies' paper reserves are about to deplete and their providers have not been able to obtain the necessary certificates to import newsprint for over two months. Many of them fear that the setbacks are part of a deliberate strategy to curtail the circulation of regional newspapers after President Nicolás Maduro's administration decided, in late 2012, that newsprint was not an article of first necessity and, therefore, had no priority in the issuance of importing certificates.

According to news site Zocalo, 95% of Venezuelan dailies have depleted their paper reserves or are about to, and many of them have already taken drastic measures like eliminating content or publishing their editions only certain days of the week.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.