Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, June 15, 2023

US Media Coverage of Security in Mexico Has Increased Fourfold Over Last 20 Years

"El Huaso" for Borderland Beat

In 2022, the United States news media wrote four times as many news articles about security and cartels in Mexico than they did in 2002, an increase just about proportional to the increase in homicides in that period.

Further, there is a strong correlation of .859 between the annual homicide count in Mexico and the number of articles covering insecurity and organized crime. Basically, as violence increases, journalists write more stories about violence in Mexico.

Figure 1: Number of articles by year in US media, keywords: "violence, cartel, Mexico"

Year           Articles Percent Change
2002 4758 28.66%
2003 3161 -33.56%
2004 3547 12.21%
2005 5242 47.79%
2006 6200 18.28%
2007 6065 -2.18%
2008 7113 17.28%
2009 8398 18.07%
2010 8280 -1.41%
2011 9283 12.11%
2012 6893 -25.75%
2013 5779 -16.16%
2014 6896 19.33%
2015 8260 19.78%
2016 8776 6.25%
2017 8823 0.54%
2018 11760 33.29%
2019 12324 4.80%
2020 10452 -15.19%
2021 13503 29.19%
2022 16229 20.19%

Figure 2: Number of articles by year and percent change.

If we understand this data as a baseline for the relationship between the US news media and violence in Mexico over time, we can learn more about which specific aspects of the drug war are garnering the most attention. For example, if we adjust the search to find the number of articles specifically about terror in Mexico, we learn that interest in this topic is accelerating at a much faster rate than coverage of security in Mexico generally.

Further, unlike the relationship between violence and news coverage in figure 3, there is no similar correlation for news mentioning terrorism.

Figure 1: Number of articles by year in US media, keywords: "Terror*, Mexico"
A count of press coverage over the last four decades reveals that the news media in the United States is more focused on terrorist threats related to Mexico than ever before, even more than after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. Coverage of Mexico is also increasingly in the context of a national security threat to the United States. This coverage mirrors increasing scrutiny on Mexico’s security from legislators and politicians.

Sources: INEGI defunciones por homicidio 2000 - 2022, This data on the number of press articles was collected using DowJones Factiva.

You can follow me on Twitter @HuasoBB

I tweet about organized crime in Latin America and security in Mexico.


  1. Nah they still dont care. Tats why so many ppl from usa go vacationing over there. Like lambs to the slaughter.

    1. Of those 35k killed a year in Mexico, how many were innocent tourist?.... when you're done figuring out what that number is, I want you to divide your answer by the number of tourist that visited Mexico for that year... the result should be the chances of a tourist being killed in Mexico for that given time.

  2. ūü§Ē The Genaro Garcia Luna trial revealed that he was paying off major mexican media outlets to write favorable articles. He was presented as Mexico's super cop, when in reality he was a Super Villain. The same can be said about the coverage during the Pe√Īa Nieto administration. The media showcased a good looking President who married a beautiful Mexican novela actress in what appeared to be a fairytale story all while Mexico was being pimped out to the highest bidder at the cost of the people. Since AMLO took office, it's been a constant back and forth war of words between this administration and those same media outlets that sold out to corruption during the last two administrations. I wonder what impact has the falling out between the government and the major media outlets has this had on the increased amount of coverage we are witnessing? What relationships do these foreign media companies have to the major mexican media outlets? Is the U.S providing funds to mexican media outlets through the USAID program? Might be something worth Google-ing.

    1. Oh definitely. That has been going on for decades in Mexico. Televisa and TVAzteca would never say anything negative about a sitting president or his underlings/cabinet. They were also getting Millions opon millions on tax breaks. AMLO stopped all that but nobody likes to cover that. They just like to talk shit about him. Now the media eats him up because they’re not getting that money anymore. The media in Mexico is a bunch of scumbags. Especially Televisa and TvAzteca.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Hello, I post articles like this because I think they matter if:

      1. If you are interested in relationships between US media and violence
      2. If you are concerned about US media focus on certain aspects of the drug war, such as terrorist designation, its important to know baseline coverage trends
      3. If you understand that there is a relationship between news media and legislation, you can learn where the political system is headed
      4. If you are concerned about media bias and unmerited coverage (as the US media is sometimes accused of) this is a way to test for that


  4. Homicides cause news. More murders happen more articles are reported, perhaps the personal stories of the deceased are told but not really. Basically they're all "criminals" getting killed so no big loss. The government is doing a stupendous job!!

  5. Good point of view or to start with. Imagine what you can find with access to google. What kind and how many correlations we would see if AI is analyzing this data.
    Keep on with your work. Thank you


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