In Venezuela Bus TV is the Free Press


Venezuela has been witnessing a massive crackdown on journalism and public dissent under the current government (not that the previous government was much better). Mass protest happen daily throughout yet receive no media coverage due to government interference. This clampdown has led to frustration amongst media professionals who have decided to keep broadcasting, but on busses.

The process at Bus TV, for example, is incredibly simple: A producer steps onto the bus and asks the driver for permission to present the news. Two journalists hold the makeshift TV, while the host reads the four-minute news bulletin covering current events. They not only talk about the protests, but shortages or other daily hardships many here are experiencing. Each day the newscast is different, and although government sources are rarely made available for interviews, the reporters work to incorporate public statements from officials in order to make the newscast as balanced and professional as possible.

The idea came to reporter Claudia Lizardo in late April. The capital was overwhelmed by protests, but when she got on the bus she realized no one was talking about it. “I felt like I was in a parallel reality,” she says. “It seemed like nothing [out of the ordinary] was happening in the country.” She feared it was a matter of lack of information – or even misinformation. So she gathered a group of friends and launched Bus TV.

“This is not a protest, but it’s a form of resistance,” says Laura Castilllo, a journalist working with Bus TV. “It’s a way to counteract censorship.”

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