Sunday, March 6, 2011

2010: Attacks on Mexican journalists more brazen

Versión en español aquí.

The work of journalists in Mexico is becoming increasingly dangerous, and governments at the state and national level are doing nothing to change the situation. 

This is the essence of the new report by the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET). 

At least 139 journalists and 21 media outlets in 25 Mexican states were attacked for reasons related to their reporting, says CEPET. 

During the past year, nine media workers were killed, three reporters disappeared in the states of Tamaulipas and Michoacan, and two other employees of a newspaper in Chihuahua were forced to leave the country after receiving death threats. 

New form of kidnapping  

The report describes "a new scenario in which drug cartels kidnap journalists, hold them hostage and demand that the media disseminate their messages." 

Government has been ineffective. "The remedial actions by state and federal governments have not advanced in the direction or speed required by the problem." 

Chilling effect

Two special envoys on freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission of the United Nations studied the situation and concluded that " states with strong presence of organized crime, the chilling effect of the violence and impunity has completely silenced some communities." 

Cepet itself concluded:
Faced with the increasing number of attacks on freedom of expression, the murders and attacks on journalists and media outlets, CEPET expresses the deepest concern and demands that the authorities clarify the cases, fight against impunity and grant full respect for freedom of expression and right to information in Mexican society.
 One answer: self-protection

The Center for Digital Journalism Training responded to the situation by offering three classes in 2010 on "Safe Coverage: Practicing Journalism in High-Risk Situations.

About 90 Mexican journalists participated, and one class created a wiki with guidelines for self-protection.

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