Puerto rico newspaper: The San Juan Daily Star | Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico | The State of Latino News Media

Puerto Rico has a complicated political status: As an unincorporated territory of the U.S., it is neither a U.S. state nor a sovereign country.

Its news media industry operates in a context that is unique. There isn’t a “Latino population” in Puerto Rico. Spanish is the prevailing language. And there is obviously no immigrant/U.S.-born divide. Moreover, years of economic hardship due to a financial debt crisis and the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017 have dramatically affected the media landscape.

For these reasons, we are sharing our findings on Puerto Rico in a separate section. They offer just a broad picture of the state of the island’s news media. Puerto Rican media deserve a much deeper exploration and analysis, and we hope these preliminary findings will help inform such research.

We did not receive enough responses to our survey to come to conclusions about business models and circulation, so most of our findings come from interviews with reporters and editors. These were conducted by Vanessa Colón Almenas, an experienced Puerto Rican journalist with deep knowledge of the industry there.

We identified 66 news outlets: 20 newspapers, 18 websites, 10 radio stations, eight podcasts, seven TV stations, two newswires and one magazine. We found a higher concentration of outlets in and around San Juan, the capital, but there are outlets spread out across the island, covering most regions. Around 3.65 million people live in the island.

Only four outlets offer content exclusively in English. But we found that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria more Spanish-language outlets — especially newspapers and websites —  started to offer English translations of their content, particularly for stories and columns dealing with the politics and the economy of the island. The reason: The interviews we conducted point to an effort to influence the conversation about Puerto Rico taking place in the greater U.S., since that conversation affects the lives of people living in the island.

In our interviews with roughly 20 journalists working in several Puerto Rican cities and for various outlets, we identified three areas of concern, all equally urgent:

  • Sustainability

The dire economic situation resulting from the accumulated impact of  two catastrophes —the island’s debt crisis and the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria —has had (not surprisingly) a huge impact on the media industry.

Traditional advertising revenue had already dropped dramatically with the financial crisis, and immediately after the hurricane it all but disappeared.

Latin Media House, publisher of the English-language website Caribbean Business, struggled to pay salaries and had to stop publication for several weeks. More than a year and a half after the hurricane, the site has only now returned to its usual publishing frequency. Diálogo, an important traditional newspaper run by Puerto Rico University — and considered a valuable resource for journalism students who start their practice in its newsroom — shut down completely and it remains shuttered. The publicly owned TV station WIPR is being privatized.

Omar Alfonso, editor at La Perla del Sur, a weekly serving the Ponce region in the island’s south, said that after Maria, for the first time in 35 years of continuous publication, the paper “considered to stop publishing” because local businesses couldn’t afford to advertise. Such financial woes severely curtailed the paper’s hurricane coverage. “Because we were coming from four years of sustained economic deterioration we didn’t have a reserve fund that would allow us to print a special edition of 24 or 36 pages,” he said. In the end, the paper printed an emergency 12-page edition that reached only a limited area. Several of its drivers had lost their homes and couldn’t  come to work. Roads were inaccessible.

The leading media company, GFR Media, owner of the two largest newspapers (El Nuevo Día and Primera Hora) laid off 59 people (out of 245) soon after María hit. El Nuevo Día is the newspaper of record in Puerto Rico, and GFR Media is the largest employer of journalists in the island. GFR was already struggling with advertising loses and digital-transition restructuring when the hurricane hit. Most of the laid-off employees had suffered considerable personal losses from the hurricane, and practically no other company was hiring. In recent months, some newsrooms, including those of GFR Media, have resumed hiring journalists. But, according to the interviews we conducted, salaries are lower, often many times lower than in the past. Some journalists are making as little as $10 an hour.

Most outlets are still producing original content, serving a population that is struggling to recover and coping with a basic infrastructure that remains largely down —mostly in rural areas. But these outlets have few resources, little or no revenue, and sometimes just one person to produce, edit and distribute the content.

Still, at most media operations, we found energized journalists with a strong sense of mission. Asked about their level of job satisfaction, they often replied: “Very high.

  • Infrastructure

Almost all medium and small newsrooms were without power, internet connection or water in the aftermath of the hurricane and, in some cases, for months afterward. Newsrooms relocated to public buildings, from which journalists could post or broadcast. The Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI), for example, moved to the island’s Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia (the Emergency Operation Center) in Santurce, near San Juan. (For more on CPI, see our Outstanding Innovation Section.)

WALO, a radio station covering the eastern part of the island, moved to the local government’s Emergency Center in Ponce. And for several days after the storm, many journalists and their families camped out in the newsroom of El Nuevo Día, which had power and water. The company fed them and provided them with mattresses.

Since then, a priority for news outlets has been to obtain —with cash or through donations — satellite phones, old-fashioned radio communication systems, and diesel reserves to fuel power generators. Infrastructure is now functioning in most places. Still, many newsrooms have developed contingency plans and personnel training to prepare for the next natural disaster.

  • Editorial Independence

We heard more than once in our interviews that the increasingly limited sources of revenue have created new constraints on editorial independence at some outlets, with owners cautious about criticizing the island’s economic and political powers. This was already a problem, these journalists said, before the hurricane, and has only gotten worse. Journalists working for outlets where these constraints are not an issue — even those with few resources — told us that they are particularly aware of their privilege in having the freedom to run critical coverage.

“Sometimes [the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo] feels like a bubble in that we have a lot of freedom to decide what to cover and how we do it,” said Carla Minet, executive director of CPI, a nonprofit outlet funded by grants and individual donations. Three of the journalists we interviewed complained about the lack of editorial independence in their newsrooms, attributing it to the economic interests of the owners of the outlets.

This is a critical moment for Puerto Rico, and the role of the news media cannot be overstated. An avalanche of recovery federal funds is arriving on the island, and with them a clear and urgent need for oversight and accountability journalism. The work of the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in exposing the misuse of such funds demonstrates the importance of such coverage.

About Puerto Rico Newspapers — The US Caribbean & Florida Digital Newspaper Project

History of Puerto Rico’s Newspapers

As the chronology of events in Puerto Rico suggests, the period between 1836 and 1922 was pivotal in the history of Puerto Rico. The major protagonists of this period—colonial authorities, the elite, political actors, labor activists, women, etc.—used newspapers to promote their activities. The result is that the connection between Puerto Rico’s newspapers and its history is intrinsic. In addition, newspapers of this period can bring to light the nature of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the US, a relationship that has been emblematic of the relationship between the US and Latin America in general.

The printing press arrived in Puerto Rico at the beginning of the 19th century, late in comparison to other Spanish colonies. Circa 1807, La Gaceta de Puerto Rico was founded. It was the first newspaper printed in Puerto Rico. Although it included insular and European news, La Gaceta reflected the views of the Spanish government and eventually became a singular means of official communication. Puerto Rico’s first daily, Diario Liberal y de Variedades de Puerto Rico, appeared in 1821. As a reflection of the liberal climate in Spain and its colonies at the time, this newspaper included discussions on the rights of farmers to possess land. In 1834, the Spanish Crown regained power and began to censor the press. The Boletín Mercantil de Puerto Rico was founded in 1839 as a result of the creation of the Chamber of Commerce. Although at first its purpose was to promote commerce, industry, agriculture, and literary production, it later became a semi-official instrument of the Spanish government. Both La Gaceta and the Boletín condemned the movements toward independence and the abolishment of slavery that took place in the 1870s.

The years between 1870 and 1874 saw the beginning of 45 newspapers. This was due in great part to Spain’s new printing law of May 6, 1866, which in general terms considered it a crime to write against the King and the Real Family, the Legislative Chambers, the Parliamentarians, and other ministers and other governmental authorities; it also was proscribed to issue journal articles which could affect the fidelity or discipline of the Armed Forces. This law was applied to Puerto Rico in 1869 and 1870. Upon its 1874 restoration in Spain, censorship again became law, yet Puerto Rico would never return to the times when one or two newspapers, mouthpieces of the reigning powers, existed. After Spain’s democracy period (1868-1874), the press gained a great momentum. The establishment of the First Spanish Republic in 1873 gave way to the foundation of many newspapers both liberal and conservative, such as Don Simplicio, Don Cándido, La Verdad, El Avisador del Comercio, El Semanario Puertorriqueño, and others. Governor Primo de Rivera’s press conference in 1873 highlights the influence of the press. After announcing the start of the Spanish American war, the governor asked for moderation from the press, to avoid alarming the population or offending the US government.

The fall of the First Spanish Republic in 1874 gave way to a period of conservatism and repression. Governor General José Laureano Sanz began the repression of liberal intellectuals and their newspapers. Despite the conservative environment, two of the most important liberal newspapers appeared in San Juan: El Buscapié (1877) and El Clamor del País (1883). These papers criticized the tyranny of Spanish governors, and thus, suffered censorship and punishment. Simultaneously, numerous newspapers appeared in other cities including Ponce, Mayagüez, Caguas, and Fajardo. One of the most important newspapers founded in San Juan was La Integridad Nacional (1885), a publication of the party Incondicional Español. The year 1887 was one of severe persecution against liberals. Journalists and editors were imprisoned and condemned to death. Liberal newspapers like El Clamor del País and El Buscapié denounced the persecution, whereas conservative newspapers like El Boletín attacked those seeking autonomy. Many newspapers disappeared. Both El Porvenir and El Escarpelo, founded in Cayey in 1889, came to swift ends, but had as a worthy successor in the weekly El Cañón, which suffered significant reprisals for its attacks on the government and for writing about slavery issues.

In 1890, 19 newspapers were started; 25 more followed suit in 1891 and an additional 27 came into being in 1892. Especially noteworthy from 1892 is El Noticiero (successor to El Diario de Ponce) founded by Ramón María. On May, 1893, Aguadilla’s first newspaper, La Región, was first published; however, that year also would be its last. Also in 1893, Aguadilla’s El Criollo replaced Voz del Pueblo, which was directed by Pedro Acevedo Rivera.

The Puerto Rican press experienced a great transformation during the last decade of the 19th century. Doctrinaire journalism gave way to critical and news information. Journalists became more professional; permanent sections appeared, and editors began to rely more on “facts” than opinion and imagination. Luis Muñoz Rivera, founder of the Union Party, opened La Democracia at the beginning of the decade. Because of its popularity, it became one of the most influential newspapers of the time. It was one of the first newspapers to take advantage of new technologies and of international correspondents. However, the newspaper that set a new paradigm was La Correspondencia de Puerto Rico (1890). Ramón B. López, its founder, was not a politician but a businessman. He wanted his newspaper to be profitable. Unlike other newspapers of the time, La Correspondencia was a daily that published interesting news instead of political discourse. It did not side with any political group or ideology. It included advertising, and was very cheap and popular. Other newspapers had to follow this model in order to compete. This decade also saw the development of a strong labor movement in Puerto Rico. In 1897, Ensayo Obrero, the first newspaper associated with this movement was published.

The years previous to the Spanish American War were an intense period in Puerto Rican Press. There was great discussion on the role of US newspapers as instigators of the war, of the reaction of the European press, and of the economic dependency of the Caribbean on US markets and products. During the Spanish-American War, many US correspondents traveled to Cuba and Puerto Rico to cover the news of the insurrection and other events related to the war. Reporters such as Edwin Emerson, who was accredited by the U.S. Navy and Army, had a two-fold mission:  to send secret reports to the government about the happenings of the war and to send public news to their respective newspapers. These reporters were flocking to Key West, Tampa and Pensacola to develop plans to reach the Islands to cover these events. The reports and articles of these journalists were published in newspapers such as the Equator-Democrat (Key West, FL), the Herald, Harper’s Weekly, World’s, Chicago Record and the Chicago Daily News.

Puerto Rican journalists also began to compare and contrast their press to that of the US. Liberals admired the idea of free speech, whereas conservatives denounced its sensationalism. Once the Spanish American War began, the press carefully followed its development because Puerto Ricans knew that this war would change their fate. Prior to the transference of Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to the US, the first English newspaper was published: The Porto Rico Mail (1898). After the transference, the American eagle replaced Spain’s coat of arms in La Gaceta de Puerto Rico, which disappeared soon after.

Subsequent years featured constant persecution of journalists.  La Democracia deplored the arrival of US companies, but the government repressed the newspaper. Luis Muñoz Rivera, founder of La Democracia and of the Union Party, opened another newspaper: Diario de Puerto Rico (1900). Both newspapers sponsored a certain degree of autonomy for Puerto Rico, and as a result suffered censorship. Like before, Puerto Rican newspapers continued to reflect the political dichotomy between liberals and conservatives. Puerto Rico’s Republican Party founded El Aguila de Puerto Rico (1901) and El Tiempo (1907). Like the party, these papers promoted annexation and statehood. On the other hand, Santiago Iglesias, leader of the labor movement, founded the newspaper Unión Obrera (1902).

At the same time, existing newspapers experienced dramatic changes. Manuel Zeno Gandía, medical doctor, writer, politician, and journalist, bought La Correspondencia de Puerto Rico and gave it a political theme, whereas El Boletín became more journalistic. It also was the first Puerto Rican newspaper to import a linotype machine; La Democracia, El Tiempo, and La Correspondencia followed it. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, several English newspapers began publication, such as The Portorrican Student (1908), The Horticultural News (1910), and Porto Rico Progress (1910). Three of the most important newspapers in Puerto Rico began during the 1910s: El Diario de Puerto Rico (Ponce, 1909), Puerto Rico Ilustrado (1910), and El Mundo (1919). El Diario de Puerto Rico was influential during the entire 20th century, and it continues as El Nuevo Día. The Puerto Rico Ilustrado had impact on Puerto Rican literary production at the time, and El Mundo became one of the most popular newspapers.

In his inaugural speech delivered in 1921, Governor Emmet Montgomery Reily declared that the US government was opposed to any kind of autonomy for Puerto Rico and that it considered “foreigners” those who supported it. He specifically asked the press to stop inciting such ideas. La Democracia reacted with a campaign against the governor. One of the participants was Luis Muñoz Marín, son of Luis Muñoz Rivera and future first elected governor of Puerto Rico. Because Governor Reily had dismissed the advice of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, the US institution that advised US administration on Puerto Rican matters, the Bureau did not support Reily against his political enemies and against opposition journalism. As a result, Reily was removed. This incident illustrates the impact of the press on Puerto Rico’s history.

Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper removes anti-Semitic article from its website — Lechaim

Russian Rothschilds

Although the war rallied Russian Jewry, it destroyed the Russian Empire. The Gunzburgs welcomed the February Revolution. Although they were monarchists, they did not have much sympathy for Tsar Nicholas II, and a revolution could open the way for Russia to the long-awaited liberalism. But the October Revolution, which put the Bolsheviks in power, destroyed the hopes of the family.

February 8

time tested

Joshua Meyers. Translation from English by Nina Usova

The Guardian: How a merciless ‘tin baron’ from Bolivia saved thousands of Jewish refugees

Hochschild was able to convince the President of Bolivia that the acceptance of Jewish refugees would benefit the Bolivian economy. “In the period from 1938 to the first months of 1940, inclusive, an astoundingly large number of Jews arrived in Bolivia — from 7 to 22 thousand.” The tycoon, unable to visit Europe in person, «bribed officials to obtain blank passports» and also, using his connections with anti-fascist resistance cells, set up the production of fake agricultural work permits and identity cards for refugees.

February 7


Dan Collins. Translation from English by Svetlana Silakova

Martha Gellhorn loved Hemingway and Israel

Gellhorn believed that the purpose of journalism is to fight injustice. She did not value objectivity and did not want to cover history from opposite points of view … After the Munich Agreement, she began to understand the plight of those who had once fled from Germany to the Sudetenland, which was now annexed by the Nazis. She traveled twice to Czechoslovakia and described these trips in articles for the weekly Collier’s. She pleaded in vain with the High Commissioner of the League of Nations to help the refugees… Gellhorn was not heeded.

February 6

time tested

Rachel Steyr. Translation from English by Yulia Poleshchuk

Tu Bishvat — New Year of Trees

What is in common between a man and a tree if the Torah equates them to each other? First of all, we note that not only when we want to eat the fruit of a tree, we remember where it came from, where it grew. There is a special day in the year: the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat, the New Year, Rosh Hashanah of the trees. The fact that trees, like people, have Rosh Hashanah further strengthens their friendship. So why does the Torah say that “man is a tree”?

February 6

Tu Bishvat

Yehuda Wexler

The Grammys were neglected at first

The absence from public memory of the Jewish immigrant from Germany who invented the gramophone (creating the music industry in the process) is perhaps the Grammys’ most serious snub. The legacy of this man, whose scientific achievements voiced the history of music, is now hardly remembered, even at a ceremony named after his greatest invention.

February 5


Grant Besner. Translation from English by Nina Usova

Puerto Rico demands more autonomy from the US — Kommersant Newspaper No. 135 (3711) of 08/01/2007


2 minutes.

Puerto Rico’s ruling People’s Democratic Party passed a resolution yesterday calling on the UN to reconsider the status of the island. The authorities of Puerto Rico are not satisfied, first of all, with trade and economic dependence on the United States, in particular, the need to register on the mainland all imports arriving on the island. In addition, Puerto Rico Governor Anibala Vila is demanding the rights to enter into trade agreements with foreign countries. At the same time, as the Puerto Rican authorities assure, this is not about secession from the United States or changing the political status of the island, but only about expanding some powers of the local leadership. Appeal to the UN with such demands looks somewhat strange, since this organization cannot change the status of Puerto Rico. The authorities of the island explain that in this way they intend to start a dialogue with the United States. However, it remains unclear what previously prevented the island’s leadership from starting this dialogue and why it was necessary to resort to the help of an international organization. According to experts, the appeal to the UN may indicate that the local authorities have no other tools to influence Washington.

Let us recall that Puerto Ricans are officially considered US citizens, but do not pay taxes to the federal treasury and do not have the right to participate in presidential elections. The supreme legislative power on the island belongs to the US Congress: it is in charge of foreign policy, defense, and local legislation. The head of the executive branch is the governor. Vasily Ъ-Rulinsky

Collective security offered to the Shanghai Organization

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is ready for the closest cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha stated this yesterday during a video bridge between Moscow and Beijing. In the near future, a protocol on cooperation between the two organizations should be signed, which defines the areas of interaction between them, including in the field of security. «We are ready for the highest level of integration with the SCO,» Mr. Bordyuzha said. «All that is needed here is good will.» According to the CSTO Secretary General, cooperation would help eliminate duplication in similar aspects of the activities of the two organizations.

Answering a question about the possibility of holding joint military exercises between the CSTO and the SCO, Mr. Bordyuzha expressed the opinion that this would allow for a deeper interaction between organizations operating in the same region. He also stressed that the main activity of the CSTO is to ensure security for the member states of the organization, while the SCO members solve the problems of their security on their own.

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