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 says Efecto Cocuyo made the remarks in Rio De Janeiro after media watchdog Reporters Without Borders  released its annual World Press freedom Index.

RSF rated Venezuela 148th out of 180 countries : 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 the 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 economic situation,''  says Reyes. ''Even in Carcass, 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. [Agencies]


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