The Mass Media

Haiti Table of Contents

The mass media in Haiti expanded remarkably between 1957 and 1989; radio led the way. The transistor radio brought news and information to previously isolated rural areas. Since the 1950s, Protestant missionaries have proselytized through their own radio stations. Radio Soleil, a Roman Catholic station, and other radio stations contributed to the fall of Duvalier in 1986.

Approximately two dozen radio stations were broadcasting in Haiti in the late 1980s; slightly more than half of them were in the Port-au-Prince area. There were a similar number of newspapers and other periodicals, including four daily papers with an estimated combined circulation of 25,000, four monthlies, and a dozen or so weeklies. The number of publications varied over time. Some publications were produced irregularly. During the post-Duvalier period, a relatively large number of publications appeared, but many of them published only a few issues before folding.

Two television stations, one private and one public, were broadcasting in the late 1980s. There was also a cable television network. Many wealthy families owned satellite dishes that picked up television signals from abroad. Television played a growing role among the Haitian media, but its influence continued to be greatest among higher-income residents of Port-au-Prince. In general, increased freedom of expression and an absence of formal government censorship or control characterized the post-Duvalier period.

Spoken and written Creole became commonplace in radio, television, and publications, as well as in community organizations and development projects. The production of materials written in Creole expanded exponentially in the late 1980s and increased the participation of the majority of the population in Haitian politics. Creole also became increasingly important in advertising.

More about the Government and Politics of Haiti.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress