Nov 20, 2012

Mexican press: Self preservation becomes self censorship

XIndex  November 16, 2012

In Mexico drug cartels continue to dictate news agenda and in some areas, have even infiltrated the newsroom. A new investigation by Fundacion MEPI reveals the extent to which news outlets fear of cartel retaliation and a shortage of accurate government information keep the public in the dark.

MEXICO CITY – It was 38 minutes into the First Division football match at the Santos Modelo Stadium, about 275 miles from the US border, when players suddenly started running from the pitch to their locker rooms. Popping sounds interrupted the announcers. More than one million Mexican television viewers watched as a firefight between the country’s most ruthless drug cartel and local police unfolded.

The images broadcast from the industrial town of Torreon showed terrified men, women and children crouching under the stadium seats and scrambling for cover. Television Azteca, the second largest Mexican network, stopped transmission of the game. But ESPN continued, breaking its audience records worldwide for a domestic soccer match.

It was the first time drug-related violence had played out on live television alongside the country’s beloved national sport. But it also highlighted another battle, one raging inside the local Mexican media as criminal groups have continue to muzzle regional reporting on drug violence —  savagery that has left more than 60,000 dead since outgoing President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.

Despite the stadium gun battle’s obvious news value, in the newsroom of the local daily El Siglo de Torreon, editors and reporters pondered whether to publish news of the shootout in a prominent place in the following day’s paper.  The attack had pitted the Zetas organised crime group against a municipal police contingent parked near the stadium.  Read more. 

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