Puerto Rico

73rd General Assembly
Salt Lake City. Utah

The Hurricane Maria catastrophe in September is putting the practice of journalism to test due to the slow restoration of the basic services and infrastructure of communication, within the framework of the financial crisis and the strong austerity measures ordered by the body that oversees the country's finances.

On October 4 the Grupo Ferré Rangel group, which through its GFR Media division publishes the country's main newspaper, El Nuevo Día as well as Primera Hora and Índice, announced several internal steps "to guarantee the continuity of its companies in the long term."

The GFR group declared that "there are clients and advertisers without electricity service and without communication." The telecommunications and Internet service companies of the same group are offering office space to their affected clients so they can renew their operations.

Grupo Ferré Rangel President María Luisa Ferré Rangel declared that this crisis "obliges us to reinvent ourselves and to speed up our information."

After the hurricane both El Nuevo Día and Primera Hora are maintaining a combined average daily circulation of 170,000 copies.

On another matter, in May Governor Ricardo Roselló presented new a legislative bill to guarantee access to public information to journalists and members of the public, which would require the three branches of government – the Executive, Legislative and Judicial – to offer immediate information if it is accessible or, if necessary, within 10 days.

Congress has previously voted against this type of legislation.

The government announced that in search of rapid approval it had opened channels of dialogue with press and civil society organizations such as the Overseas Press Club, Association of Journalists of Puerto Rico (Asppro) and the Transparency Network made up of Abre PR, the Statistics Institute of Puerto Rico, Open Spaces, Investigative Journallsim Center and Citizenry Agenda, among others.