The Honduran press has contributed to the configuration of a single thought matrix in the Honduran social imaginary, that is to say that it responds to the logic of a mono-cultural and unilinear State. Its evolution has gone hand in hand with the growth of Honduran economic and political groups. The media respond to an ideological position with links that can be seen in editorial lines. In addition, this political tendency has been visible due to ownership ties and the contribution of media to the creation of public opinion on behalf of the political powers.
There are two conditions that have clearly contributed to this growth: Direct ownership of the press by partisan political sectors and direct trade links with the State. Newspapers in Honduras work as an echo chamber, exposing in their "editorial lines" a thought that is adverse or contrary to any information or data that is not related to them. For example, the three main newspapers never cover events that affect their owners or partners of their political sector. The loss of influence and trust from the public, the sharp slowdown in sales volume and the constant political crises of Honduran democracy have caused a "forced migration" towards technology. Manuel Torres, one of the elders of the journalistic scene, in his book Poderes Fácticos y Sistema Político (Factual Powers and Political System), states: "since the mid-90s the influence of the digital age has gained intensity in the country, stimulated by the proliferation of electronic media and the rupture of the state monopoly in the domain of the radio spectrum.”
According to an interview with a member of the newsroom of El Heraldo newspaper, the average daily circulation in 2018 was between 100,000 and 120,00 copies (Diario El Heraldo 40,000, Diario La Prensa 40,000, La Tribuna 40,000), a decrease since previous years. Although the purchasing power of newspapers has declined, there is still an economically active population that consumes, especially amongst the adult population. According to newspaper consumption studies in Honduras, "When it comes to reading newspapers, men tend to read them more than women, 47.5 percent of men tend to read the newspaper, compared to 37.5 percent of women." The newspaper with the largest number of copies belongs to the OPSA group and is read in the Valle de Sula, with a total of 39,222 copies distributed only in that geographical area of the country, which includes one of the most populated cities of Honduras, San Pedro Sula.
Meanwhile, the young population consumes digital press on web pages, and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. As further analysed in chapter Digital Media, the PC remains the preferred device for accessing online press for 67.8 percent of the readers of digital newspapers, although with a drop of five points, followed by mobile phones (47 percent) with a growth of 13 percent, and tablets, with 23.4 percent, according to data published by the AIMC (DIGITAL, 2016).
Regarding this scenario, the journalist and media consultant Francis Pisani, wrote that "change begins in the periphery. It is there where people - our readers and spectators - try new practices. Where the change comes quickly among the generation of younger users, and much more slowly for us. The potential readers of tomorrow are using the web in ways that we can hardly imagine, and if we want to remain relevant to them, we need to understand how Honduran youth are seeing the media written from a different perspective.”
Youths are no longer passive recipients of the messages of journalists, they rather write, comment, share and propose through networks. The new audience of the newspapers written in Honduras decides what to read and how to read it: "I no longer read newspapers on paper, they are no longer fashionable, and the credibility of them is questionable" (Lopez, 2018).
On the other hand, between 2015 and 2018, newspapers have shown a significant reduction in their work forces. The newspaper El Tiempo is the company that has made the most layoffs; 350 employees among journalists, photographers, editors, and other personnel, have been dismissed, due to an abrupt closure after the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) pressed charges for money laundering on behalf of a drug cartel with ties in the USA against the Empresa Grupo Continental (Continental Group Company), owner of the ceased daily newspaper. The outlet is now only publishing an online version which is still a media of reference with almost half a million followers on Facebook. Smaller scale dismissals have happened for other newspapers.
The print media market in Honduras is largely controlled by two groups: OPSA, owner of Diario El Heraldo and La Prensa. And Periódicos y Revistas S.A, owners of La Tribuna, El País, Diario Más, Más Clasificados and LTV. According to data from the Asociación de Agencias de Publicidad de Hondras (Association of Advertising Agencies of Honduras - AAPH), the advertising sector recorded investments of approximately US$443.2m, of which "The written press obtained US$75m and grew by 5 percent in the year 2017." This can be explained by increased sponsorships of private companies and for the purchase of advertising time by political parties during that particular year of elections. Data on the losses of each of the newspapers is not available, even though there is a law on access to information.
Below is a list of the media that each of these publishing companies operate:
- Grupo OPSA owns 2 national newspapers La Prensa, El Heraldo and the national sports newspaper Deportes Diez, along with local magazines Estilo, Honduras Tips, Estrategias y Negocios, Super Clasificados, GOTV Empleos.
- The group Periódicos y Revistas S.A (Journals and Magazines SA) owns newspapers La Tribuna, El País, Diario Más, Más Clasificados.
- Medios de Comunicación Alternativos y Conexos owns newspaper El Libertador.
- The Fundación Católica (Catholic Foundation) owns the national newspaper Fides and the regional newspaper PeriódicoLenca.
The level of coverage of the main newspapers is national. Five newspapers compete for regional territories, El Heraldo and La Tribuna in the Center-South-East zone and La Prensa in the Northwest zone, while El Libertador and FIDES in the central zone of the country. This market distribution also creates a segmentation of audiences and greater control of the market in each territory. Although, it should be noticed that national newspapers rarely reach rural areas, where regional newspapers largely supply the information needs: They provide news about security, tourism, local history and other topics. One example is PeriódicoLenca, which is based in the region of Lempira. Meanwhile, there are large areas of the country where indigenous peoples live that are not covered by print newspapers. The limited development in media and technology of those communities prevents them from reporting.
The emergence and popularity of competing communication platforms, such as popular TV, has led some newspapers to favor a style of reporting more geared toward sensationalistic language and gossip pages, with the object to attract a more popular audience. An example is the creation of El Caliche in 2016 by the more affirmed El Heraldo, an enterprise that however closed a mere year later due to its failure to achieve the correct positioning in the print media market of Honduras, contrary to what was expected.