The History of Mass Media in Haiti

While thefirst newspaper began circulating in Haiti in 1724 during the French colonial days, the independent country’s mass media history began almost century later in 1804. During the 19th century more media outlets began to proliferate in this now independent county. However, all this changed during the American occupation because free press in Haiti was stifled. From 1913-1934 the Americans passed laws to regulate the press sector and even jailed outspoken journalists like Georges Petit.Then, in the late l930’s started the era of broadcast radio with the emergence of the transistor radio which made its way into the isolated villages (“The Mass Media”). It was brought by Protestants who wanted a more efficient way to spread the gospel. The Protestants and Roman Catholics soon began running their own radio stations which they used for both proselytizing and influencing political viewpoints of Haitians on a national scale (“The Mass Media”).
As mass media began to grow in Haiti, political messages were further able to spread throughout the country. Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. Like the Americans before him, Jean-Claude Duvalier tried to censor the media and limit what type of information was given to the masses. Thus began a great struggle between free press and government censorship in Haiti. The only time that there was somewhat of a truce between the government and mass media was during Jean-Betrand Aristide’s time in office which was unfortunately cut short by a military coup and the opportunity for free media was veritable squelched with Aristide’s removal in 1991.
By the late 1980’s there were about twenty-four radio stations broadcasting in Haiti, most in the nation’s capital Port-au-Prince (“The Mass Media”). There were also several newspapers and other journals published on a regular basis. However, the 1980’s was a turbulent time for independent journalists and free press because of Jean-Claude Duvalie…

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