Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexican media to tighten control of drugs war images

Thursday, March 24, 2011 |

Reuters

Mexico's main television networks and other news groups vowed on Thursday to put tighter controls on the publication of gruesome images from a drugs war that has hurt President Felipe Calderon's government.

Major daily newspapers and the top television broadcasters, Televisa and TV Azteca, said they would also seek to make sure that drug cartel leaders "are not seen as victims or public heroes" and are unable to use the media as a propaganda tool.

"The ability of organized crime to corrupt and intimidate has become a threat to the institutions and practices that sustain our democracy," the news organizations said in an accord on how they will report the violence.

Gory images of beheaded bodies tossed on highways or strung up from bridges are beamed nightly into living rooms across the country and splashed on the front pages of newspapers.

The 10-point pact includes a clause to ensure coverage is more measured and put in the context of violence elsewhere, in what appeared to be a victory for the government, which has said reporting on Mexico's drugs war is often overblown.

More than 36,000 people have been killed since Calderon launched his army-backed campaign against the gangs in late 2006. Cartels often leave threatening messages on the bodies of their rivals and in public places.

Calderon has criticized Mexico's media for publishing the threats, and occasionally showing grainy videos of hitmen interrogating tied-up enemies before executing them.

His government says it is making gains against the cartels and defends Mexico's reputation by citing higher per capita murder rates in other Latin American countries.

Opinion polls show public confidence in security has been shaken, and Calderon's conservative ruling party is lagging the main opposition party ahead of next year's presidential vote.

Moreover, the rising death toll has scared off some tourists and businesses and remains a lingering concern for rating agencies monitoring investment in Mexico.

MURDERED JOURNALISTS

The agreement between dozens of news organizations on Thursday also aims to improve protection for journalists covering the war between cartels and security forces.

Twenty-two journalists have been murdered during Calderon's term, at least eight in direct reprisal attacks for reporting on crime and corruption, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, which welcomed the media accord.

"I think this is positive in a sense that they are getting together and forming a united front," said Carlos Lauria, the head of the Americas program at the CPJ.

"There is nothing worse than the current situation where the media is being cowed into silence in many parts -- in places where the government has lost control," he added.

Seven other journalists have gone missing in the last four years with dozens more threatened, kidnapped, or forced into exile, and many local newspapers, TV and radio stations have been bullied by drug gangs into stopping news coverage of the violence.

A cameraman for the Milenio television network was kidnapped last year in northern Mexico, and in an unprecedented move, his captors conditioned his release on the station broadcasting a drug cartel video message.

The agreement on Thursday comes amid a feud between the two top broadcasters and Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, the world's richest man.

Televisa and TV Azteca both accuse Slim of blocking their efforts to offer telephone services with the power he wields in the Mexican mobile network, and have pressed the government to weaken his hold.




Source:http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/24/mexico-drugs-media-idUSN2428987020110324?pageNumber=1

Image:http://en.mercopress.com/2011/01/02/latin-america-the-most-dangerous-region-for-journalists-in-2010

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8 Borderland Beat Comments:

Ovemex said...

Here is the actual PDF of the agreement:

http://www.iniciativamexico.org/pdf/Acuerdo_Medios_23_marzo_2011.pdf

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's more important to convince tourists it's safe than show the truth.

Anonymous said...

in other words, censorship

Anonymous said...

My crystal ball sees many dead journalists in the very near future...

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Janet Napolitano says the border is safer now than ever, so it must be true!
Imjustagirl

Anonymous said...

if a war is going on then Media can wave the flag in support of efforts to stabilize,civalize,normalize. The post Vietnam,Watergate media trend is to attack govt credability and performance,but today in Mexico we need a call to arms for the public to mobalize,this nees the agressive support of all media forms.

Anonymous said...

SO, I GUESS IF YOU DON'T SEE IT OR HEAR ABOUT IT, IT MUST NOT BE HAPPENING! RIGHT CALDERON?
WHAT A DUMB ASS MOVE BUT SINCE IT'S MAKES THAT STUPID FUCKED UP PRESIDENT OF MEXICO LOOK BAD IT'S GOT TO CHANGE!

Anonymous said...

@March 25, 2011 2:41 PM
Are you effin retarded? Did you even read the article. It was done by media themselves and nothing to do with the government ...so stop talking outta your a**.

@March 25, 2011 6:55 AM
I completely agree with your post esp the whole Vietnam thing!!

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