Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information, Andres Izarra, has announced that the government will create a national alternative media network in a bid to bring together the country’s numerous community media sources.
Speaking at a televised event on Wednesday, organised to celebrate the alternative media’s efforts to transmit accurate information during the 2002 coup media blackout, Izarra emphasised the importance of alternative media and its direct link with Venezuela’s popular movement.
“Community and alternative media has a real articulation with communities and that’s why they are so important, because they know the struggles of the people from up close,” he said.
Alternative media has thrived in Venezuela over the past ten years, with hundreds of community-produced radio and television stations springing up throughout the country. Differing from private news corporations, Venezuela’s community based media outlets are not for profit and are obliged to focus on local issues in at least 70% of their broadcasting.
Given the success of this experience in Venezuela, Izarra said it would be necessary to coordinate all the country’s different alternative media organisations and unite them under the new national network, with the government eventually hoping to see community based media overtake the private media as Venezuela’s number one source of information.
Named after Venezuelan revolutionary journalist Fabricio Ojeda, the network will be made up of various community television and radio stations and created with the support of the Latin American School of Image and Sound, which will provide social communications training to potential journalists, photographers and other media-related professions.
Izarra went on to explain that the project will be founded on three main “pillars”. These pillars include an effort to coordinate and systemise community media broadcasting in an attempt to increase their input in the public sphere, as well as to create more training opportunities in community journalism.
The minister went on to highlight the crucial role played by alternative media in Venezuela’s participatory democracy and in the construction of a new society, and stressed the importance of breaking the private media’s monopoly over the dissemination of information.
“We are advancing towards the construction of popular power, and one of the principal objectives of these alternative media sources is to produce content which will allow us to advance towards the construction of new values,” said Izarra, adding that the government would support alternative media until they became “hegemonic”.