Mexican journalists and police work together to protect reporters

Journalists, public officials, and police chiefs in the northern border state of Chihuahua, one of the areas most effected by drug violence in recent years, are planning to create the country’s first "security protocol for journalists that cover risky areas," Devenir and Ahoramismo report.

The state’s human rights commission established a committee that is charged with developing procedures for reporters, government officials, and police in cases of threats, disasters, accidents, and for on-the-ground interviews to make it easier for the press to safely cover the news.

The lack of coordination between reporters and security forces that fight drug trafficking is a recurring problem related to drug coverage, with some journalists saying they suffer violence and agression at the hands of officers.

According to Ernesto Avilés, from El Diario de Chihuahua, the lack of training for soldiers and police officers about the rights of journalists and the scope of their work “has meant that the majority of those responsible for protecting the areas where crimes occur see photojournalists and writers as potential enemies, so they react spontaneously, exercising the power that they feel the uniform [and] their weapons give them.”

The president of the Federation of Mexican Journalist Associations, Robert Piñón, stressed that the commission needs to go beyond improving relations between the press and the police, saying the guide should include best practices for journalists that include ways for reporters to avoid risk, as well as training on covering dangerous situations. Piñón asks: “What concerns should journalists have when leaving their house and driving to their workplace? Similarly, what are the best procedures for covering an execution?” What media workers need, he says, is a guide to avoiding unnecessary risks.

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.