Beginning in 1985, Gorbachev's policy of glasnost
gave newspaper and magazine editors in Latvia and other republics of the Soviet Union unprecedented opportunities to publish information on a wide range of formerly proscribed subjects, including crime, illegal drugs, occupational injuries, and environmental issues. Thus, an article published in October 1986 in the Latvian literary journal Literatura un Maksla
, discussing the environmental impact of a new hydroelectric station that was to be built on the Daugava River, helped to arouse so much public opposition that a decision was made by the Soviet government in 1987 to abandon the project (see Natural Re-sources, this ch.). Subsequently, after the pivotal June 1988 plenum of the Latvian Writers Union, the speeches delivered at this plenum, denouncing the Soviet Latvian status quo and demanding greater autonomy for the Latvian republic, re-ceived nationwide attention when they were published in four successive issues of Literatura un Maksla
(see The Pursuit of Independence, 1987-91, this ch.).
In the early 1990s, as the transition to a market-oriented economy began and competition intensified, both the circulation and the content of newspapers and magazines changed. Rising production costs caused subscription rates and newsstand prices to increase, and sales declined steadily. Nevertheless, in 1995 Latvia had a daily newspaper circulation rate of 1,377 per 1,000 population, compared with 524 per 1,000 population in Finland, 402 per 1,000 population in Germany, and 250 per 1,000 population in the United States. More than 200 newspapers and 180 magazines were in circulation.
Data as of January 1995