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SPJ leaders oppose Venezuelan government's acts against the press


For Immediate Release:

June Nicholson, SPJ International Journalism Committee Chairwoman, (804) 827-0251, jnichols@vcu.edu
Karen Grabowski, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215, kgrabowski@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists oppose the Venezuelan government’s proposed Special Law Against Media Crimes, which regulates the media’s freedom of expression. The government’s negative attitude toward the media was further demonstrated by the closure of at least 34 private radio stations on July 31. SPJ calls for the government to cease its acts and for the U.S. government to support the freedom of press in the South American nation.

“These dramatic recent actions against the press have created an environment of fear and intimidation for media outlets and their employees and threaten to even more severely limit freedom of the press in Venezuela,” Chairwoman of the SPJ International Journalism Committee June Nicholson said. “SPJ is deeply concerned at the intimidation and threats and the impact on free expression for the press and citizenry in Venezuela that these actions represent.”

On Aug. 1, CNN reported that Venezuelan minister of Public Works and Housing Diosdado Cabello said that in addition to the stations already closed, “206 stations would shut down in the coming days.” Stations were closed for various reasons, but Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has openly spoken out against some of the country’s media outlets, criticizing them for reporting supposedly false information.

Additionally, the day before the shutdowns, Venezuela Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz explained to the Venezuelan National Assembly that the proposed Special Law Against Media Crimes would “regulate the conduct of the communications media and those who work in it.” Information on the punishable crimes and sentencing are outlined in the bill, which the National Association of Hispanic Journalists provided a link to in its related press release.

Both the radio station closings and the proposed law are crackdowns on the media that limit rights to freedom of expression. SPJ calls on the Venezuelan government to cease the station closures and to strike down the proposed Media Crimes bill.

The NAHJ also condemns the closures and the proposed law. SPJ extends a hand to their efforts. To read the NAHJ release, click here. To learn more about these events, read The Associated Press’ article.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit http://www.spj.org.


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