Broadcasting and Print Media
AS ELSEWHERE in Latin America, the press in Venezuela has had a turbulent history. Not only has it frequently suffered from unstable economic conditions in the country, but it also has been particularly vulnerable to political pressures, with publications often facing censorship, or even shutdown, by hostile governments. Despite the difficulties, however, the newspaper and magazine industry was consolidated in the course of the twentieth century. New production techniques were steadily incorporated, high standards of professionalism were set within the industry, and a significant number of high-quality publications was launched.
The emergence of newspapers in Venezuela coincided with the arrival of printing presses in the early nineteenth century. Although presses operated in Mexico and Peru relatively early in the colonial period, other parts of Spain's American empire, including Venezuela, were frustrated in their attempts to develop the same facilities. In the early 1800s, the propaganda war in Venezuela between the Spanish authorities and the independence fighters made access to printing presses increasingly important. Revolutionary leaflets and papers did circulate in the country during those years, but they had to be printed overseas, mainly in Trinidad. Finally, toward the end of 1808, the Spanish authorities in Caracas ordered a printing workshop to be set up in the city, and it was transported from Trinidad by two British printers, Matthew Gallagher and James Lamb. Within a few weeks, on October 24, 1808, Venezuela's first newspaper was produced. Called Gazeta de Caracas