The print media of the Central African Republic has low geographical representativeness. There are at least 30 titles, published exclusively in the capital Bangui and leaving the country’s rural regions to more accessible audiovisual media. Written exclusively in French and not in Sango, the native and second official language, newspapers have their main target groups: civil servants, students, international organisations and diplomats. They have a very limited influence on the population, the vast majority of which is illiterate (80 percent according to the 2018 study of the United Nations Development Programme - UNDP).
Unlike other African countries, particularly the English-speaking ones, where powerful press groups with several titles are present, the written media in the Central African Republic have often remained relatively unstructured one-person companies and often have only one outlet with a small circulation in A4 format. Of the ten or so titles that appear daily on the market, only six, including Le Confident, Le Démocrate, Le Citoyen, L’Hirondelle, Le Média Plus, and L’Agora, print 400 copies daily. The others, which come out according to the funds available in their cash register, print an average of about 100 copies per issue.
Due to an insufficient reader base and a very narrow market, print media companies find it difficult to access financing. This has a huge impact on both the quantity and quality of their content. This situation of financial instability partly explains the use of "sidewalk" journalism, ie accepting or requesting payments to write articles that deal favourably with a person, organisation or issue.
Despite their very limited circulation at national level, the written media are strictly monitored by the country’s authorities. Since the outbreak of the military and political crisis in 2013 with the dismissal of former President François Bozizé and the multiplication of armed groups on the national territory, the press, which was one of the belligerents’ favourite targets, has had difficulties working independently. If a newspaper, for example, attempts to publish an article or press release from armed groups, it is systematically described by Bangui authorities as a troublemaker or enemy of peace. This could result in a suspension of several weeks. On the other hand, if it is the other way around, armed groups will similarly claim that the newspaper favours the authorities and is an enemy. A more than embarrassing situation that pushes many of the local newspapers to adapt their content according to the moment.
Since the print media only appear in the capital, they are more likely to be subjected to the regular pressure of political power rather than attacked by armed groups that are in the hinterland. Thus, a large number of print media companies in the country operate according to the degree of their relationship with the government in power, which from time to time gives them funds through the purchase of advertising space in their newspapers. In the meanwhile armed groups, which have no possibility of publishing in the written press, turn to online media and social networks to issue their press releases or make public statements.