Haiti’s social and economic crisis has taken a toll on the country’s journalists. Senator Youri Latortue, a member of the Senate Ethics Committee of Parliament who represents the Artibonite agricultural region, says privately-owned media and the government should work together to allow the press to fulfill its mission without constraints.

“Compared to how things were under the dictatorships of the past, I think journalists have it easier [today] in terms of being able to say whatever they want to say with regards to the government’s actions. But there is also a grave danger,” the senator told VOA Creole.

Latortue says journalism as a profession is undervalued and the press is not adequately compensated for its work.

“Today we get the impression that the powers that be are spending money on advertisements, they’re buying the journalists’ words – in the past they’d pressure them into doing their bidding. Today they’re spending money. So I think that if we want to really have press freedom, we must take a hard look at how journalists are living, we have to offer them social benefits, so they can maintain their independence,” he said.

Senator Latortue said the present day situation is “as bad as it was in the past” when journalists were systematically repressed under the Duvalier dictatorship.

Money talks

Journalists VOA Creole spoke to in Port-au-Prince echoed the senator’s concerns.

“The media depends on advertisements to make a living, which is a huge limitation because there are citizens, there are institutions that are off limits to you because it could be your boss or even if it’s not your boss – you can’t say anything about it,” Edlene Vernal, who works for Radio Pacific told VOA Creole.

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