The Committee to Protect Journalists is reporting that Mexican radio reporter Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina was shot dead Saturday in Montemorelos. Combined with the eight journalists killed in Mexico so far this year, Martínez’s death brings the death toll to nine, making Mexico the deadliest country in the world for journalists in 2010. The continued threat to journalists, combined with the fact that Mexico has one of the worst records in the world of bringing crimes against journalists to justice, has lead to widespread self-censorship by Mexican journalists. At least one newspaper, Zócalo de Saltillo, has stopped reporting on organized crime altogether after one of its journalists, Valentín Valdés Espinosa, was killed in January.

For those of us outside of (and within) Mexico, this self-censorship and the dangers posed to journalists is important to keep in mind when following the ongoing Drug War in the media. The fact is we do not and cannot entirely know what is happening in the Mexican Drug War because of these dangers. Most of the information we are getting is coming not from journalists on the ground who are investigating the situation, but from journalists who report on what government and military sources tell them. Knowing that journalists have become unable and (understandably) unwilling to report critically, political and military officials are given an obvious opportunity to manipulate information on the Drug War for their own benefit and at the expense of public knowledge.

Advertisements