The print press of Burundi dates back to 1924, when the Bulletin officiel du Ruanda-Urundi (Official Bulletin of Rwanda-Urundi - BORU) was first published. In 1939, the Catholic Church launched the ancestor of the current Ndongozi, Rusizira Marembe (Peace Sower). The government daily Le Renouveau, replacing Flash-Infor, was launched in 1977. Print media have always been used for propaganda purposes. With the opening of Burundi to political pluralism and the approach of the 1993 elections, nine newspapers were approved: Le Carrefour des Idées, Le Citoyen, l’Aube de la Démocratie, l’Indépendant, Kanura Burakeye, Nciragace, Panafrika, Le Plaidoyer du Peuple and La Semaine. Of these nine newspapers, only three began as initiatives of media professionals and without any political intent: Le Citoyen, Panafrika and La Semaine.
As an example of how print media has often been a reflection of political antagonisms, it can be noted that 15 titles were approved between 1993 and 1994, a very dark period that began with the assassination in 1993 of Ndadaye Melchior, the first elected President of the country. As already mentioned above, many of these titles spread the ideologies of political leaders and sometimes belligerently: "The media's shift to hate speech is partly due to the fact that many newspapers are created on the initiative of people without any journalistic training or experience and mainly motivated by the will to fight with the opposing side, unlike the first titles launched at the instigation of professional journalists or political party leaders." (Audit des médias par les médias. Association Burundaise des Radiodiffuseurs - ABR, 2013). A press guide was issued in 1996 listing the operational newspapers at the end of the previous year. Of the 30 newspapers mentioned in the guide, only Ndongozi still exists in 2019. All the others have shut down, proving that they were only good as "press of a moment." After 2005 the private press went through a new relaunching phase in order to mark a distance with newspapers involved in political battles.
Regardless of the unfavorable environment brought by the 2015 crysis, print media are evolving. In total, there were 24 periodicals in September 2018 (compared to 39 in March 2015), 26 online newspapers (compared to 14 in March 2015) and 4 specialised magazines focusing on specific themes (compared to none in 2015).
No quantitative or qualitative data is available for newspaper readers. The rare audience surveys concern only the audiovisual sector and it is difficult to know whether the content of the print press has any influence on the attitudes of Burundians.
The socio-political and economic context of Burundi hinders the normal functioning not only of the print press but of all media. Information gathering and dissemination require more of resources that are currently scarce. Already in 2013, the abovementioned ABR report showed that up to 76 percent of the journalists interviewed cited the lack of media means as one of the major threats overburdening the profession. With the drying up of funds resulting from the departure of international NGOs, the situation of private media is even more volatile than that of public media, which live in part from government subsidies. This applies in particular to television and print media due to high printing costs, the low level of penetration and the limited audience related to illiteracy. Media cannot count on their own resources because the advertising market is weak and advertisers are few. Direct aids and external financial support are rare.