Mexican national media have reduced coverage of crime and violence, says report

A report from the Media Agreement Observatory has revealed that Mexican media has notably reduced its coverage of organized crime since the inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto as president in December.

Words like "murder, organized crime and narcotrafficking" appeared much less frequently (50%) in Mexico City's media between December and February compared to the previous three months.  On TV, the word "murder" appeared 70% less frequently, and "narcotrafficking" appeared 44% less frequently, reported the Campaign for Liberty of Expression.

On the frontpages and news sections of national newspapers, coverage of the federal budget, the Pact for Mexico and education reform predominated, while regional media continued to report on violence, said the report.

The report concluded that "the change in the government agenda modified the media coverage with respect to events related to organized crime and violence."  This confirms that the principal source of the national media is the federal government, according to the website Sin Embargo.

Media in the capital accepted without question a change in the government's communications strategy, which decided to stop showing those arrested and accused of belonging to organized crime groups to the media.  However, state governments continued the practice, according to the report.

The media has also deemphasized the coverage of topics like the implementation of journalist protection measures and changes to article 73 of the constitution, which covers the powers of the public prosecutor in cases of crimes against the press.

In its three-month report, the organization Artículo 19 warned of an increase in attacks against the media in the states of Coahuila and Chihuahua that remain unsolved, according to CNN México.

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.