Mexican government announces changes to its media policy on arrested drug trafficking suspects

The Mexican federal government announced a change in its communication policy regarding the arrests of suspects, according to a report from the Notimex news agency. President Enrique Peña Nieto's communications team will no longer parade individuals arrested as suspected drug traffickers in front of the media so as not to "endorse crime."

During President Felipe Calderón's term in office, from 2006 to 2012, security agencies organized press conferences to present suspected criminals before trials could begin to determine their guilt.

"We will report in a neutral tone and refer to the suspects by their first and last names, like any other citizen," explained the Government Secretary's deputy secretary of Media Standards, Eduardo Sánchez Hernández to Notimex.

The new communication strategy also avoids referring to most-wanted criminals by their alias, using only their first and last names, according to Notimex.

"It's always risky to criminalize and expose an arrested suspect to the media," said journalist Jenaro Villamil of Proceso to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. However, the new policy might do little to change the facts on the ground as the journalist warned that the violence between criminal organizations in Mexico continues to take lives in 2013.

"Calderón wanted to turn organized crime into a Western and Peña Nieto wants to push it into a quiet corner where it won't make too much noise," said the journalism professor.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.