|While there has been no evidence of direct government persecution of
the press since the democratically elected government of President René
Préval took power in 1996, an upsurge in drug-related violence and
corruption has posed new challenges for journalists. While paramilitary groups
such as the tontons macoutes have disbanded, journalists are
still at risk from rogue police commanders and private security forces. In
one incident, reporters covering the parliament were roughed up by security
guards; in another, private security guards beat up a television reporter
on the grounds of the Haiti State University Hospital.
Haiti's high illiteracy rate means that radio is the principal news medium.
The number of privately run local stations has doubled in the last few years.
Call-in programs give voice to a wide variety of perspectives.
Years of covering political turmoil have made local journalists extremely
proficient at reporting breaking news. Investigative and analytical journalism
remain rare, however, which journalists attribute to a lack of money and
personnel. The Haitian press has stayed away from at least one important
but potentially dangerous story -- the upsurge in drug trafficking and corruption
as the island has become a favored transshipment route of Colombian drug
cartels. Because some political disputes are still settled by violence in
this fledgling democracy, the press continues to exercise a degree of
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Attacks on the Press in 1998
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