The International Press Institute (IPI) came out with its six month “death watch” report today. The good news is that the number of journalists killed so far this year has gone down (38 in 2010 compared to 43 at the same point last year). The bad news is that Latin America has overtaken Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East as the most dangerous region for journalists to work in. Honduras and Mexico, specifically, have become the most dangerous countries, with eight journalists killed in Honduras and seven killed in Mexico by the end of June. Furthermore, the article doesn’t mention this, but Mexico’s tally has actually increased to ten since June. It comes as no surprise that most of these journalists were reporting on corruption, although it is a bit disturbing to know that globally corruption has now overtaken war as the most dangerous subject for journalists to cover (although, admittedly, there’s bound to be some overlap between what constitutes corruption and war, especially in Mexico).

On Tuesday I posted on the murder of Mexican radio reporter Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina, who was tortured and shot to death last Saturday. Turns out Martínez wasn’t the only journalist killed in Mexico that day. Guillermo Trejo Alcaraz, a local cameraman in Chihuahua city who also supplied video material for the Chihuahua State Commission on Human Rights (ECHR) was also killed Saturday. He was shot to death by masked gunmen after leaving the offices of the Omnia newspaper. That brings the number of journalists killed in Mexico so far this year to 10, making Mexico the deadliest country in the world for journalists. To put that in comparison, so far this year two journalists have been killed in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. The only country that comes close to Mexico’s death toll is Honduras with eight journalists murdered.

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.