|Luis Enrique Mercado Sanchez|
A Zacatecas state based newspaper executive denied Thursday that any agreement to "censor crime news" between him and the state government of Zacatecas had been signed, according to Mexican news accounts.
La Jornada news daily reported last Wednesday that Luis Enrique Mercado Sanchez had signed an agreement with Zacatecas governor Miguel Alonso Reyes that would reduce front page reporting of violent crime incidents in news media.
|Gob. Alonso Reyes|
Another media executive, identified as owner of local Zacatecas radio stations Estereo Plata and La Super G, Juan Enriquez Rivera, has also signed the agreement, according to the report. Mercado Sanchez is CEO of two newspapers, Imagen and El Centinela, and is a former federal deputy with Partido Accion Nacional (PAN).
The agreement dubbed Por Nuestra Image or For Our Image was characterized in the La Jornada article as an initiative intended stop prominent display of bloodshed in the front page of newspapers, or on electronic media.
The next day, however, Mercado Sanchez told Animal Politico news that no such agreement existed that would stop the publication of crime news or photographs on his publications.
According to the translation Mercado Sanchez said, "The perception out there today is that Zacatecas is ruled by violence, and that's not true," adding, "We think that we as a newspaper (should) change that perception, and we therefore simply voluntarily announce that we will stop publishing sensationalist news on the front page."
"There is no agreement with the government of Zacatecas, nor have I signed any documents," said Mercado Sanchez, according to the translation.
A news account of the meeting of business executives which appeared on the website of NTR Zacatecas news daily last Monday, said that among the issues discussed was the image of Zacatecas as a violent state because of violent crime. The initiative called for media businesses to change how crime news are reported in Zacatecas state so as to improve the public image of the state.
During that conference Mercado Sanchez told the panel that newspapers should refrain from displaying violent crime news on the front page and place the news in sections such as Police or Security "where it where belongs," he is quoted as saying. He also noted a drop in violent crime in the state in year over year statistics.
Governor Alonso Reyes was in attendance and publicly endorsed the initiative.
According to an APRO wire dispatch which appeared on the website of El Diario de Coahuila, Governor Alonso Reyes is promoting his own publicity program he calls Hablar bien de Zacatecas, or "Speak well of Zacatecas". Alonso Reyes denied in the report that Por Nuestra Imagen was a gag rule for the press.
The notion that crime news in Mexico would be censored has appeared in the news before. The Mexican federal security apparatus is bound by laws which require full detailing of raids and arrests. However, according to news accounts which also appeared on Borderland beat, Mexican federal officials announced last month that they would alter the way crime news would be presented, including bans on the use of aliases and on press accompanying counternarctoics raids.
Colima governor Mario Anguiano Moreno told the local press in his state last month that agreements had been made between his state and federal officials which would in effect censor the news by reporting only on incidents when deemed "necessary".
Whether such agreements exist are in question and would run counter to even the latest laws and requirements placed on the Mexican national Secretaria de Gobernacion or Interior Ministry by the Chamber of Deputies requiring monthly publicly displayed reports on counternarcotics activities of the Mexican federal security services, including the Policia Federal, now operating as a sub agency of SEGOB, as well as Mexico's military.
It has been reported in Mexican press that SEGOB has been obsessed with secrecy in its dealings with state officials, going so far in one official conference in Chihuahua last month, as taking cell phones of governors and their staffs in attendance.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com