Mexican newspaper Norte shuts down its digital and print editions for lack of guarantees after journalist is murdered

This article has been updated to report the subsequent closure of the digital version of newspaper Norte and the publication's financial crisis.

Mexican daily newspaper Norte of Ciudad Juárez took down its website Norte Digital on the night of April 4, two days after publishing a farewell editorial in its last printed edition. Both the digital and print versions of the newspaper were closed by director, Óscar Cantú Murguía due to a lack of security for the practice of journalism in the country.

The decision to close all editions of the newspaper comes days after the murder of one of its main contributors and former editorial director, Miroslava Breach Velducea.

“Fourteen days have passed since the murder of journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea, and her case is still unpunished!, was the latest statement released on the digital platform, which also shows an image of the last printed editorial.

Cantú Murguía told El Universal on April 3: “We see how the three levels of government, federal, state and municipal, have led a policy of strangulation with the media. It is institutionalized violence, frankly there is neither security or economic conditions to continue working.”

In his last printed editorial column, Cantu Murguía explained: “The tragic and heartfelt loss of our colleague Miroslava Breach Velducea on March 23, has made me reflect on the adverse conditions in which journalism is currently practiced. Risk is the main ingredient.”

“On this day, dear reader, I am writing to inform you that I have made the decision to close the newspaper because, among other things, there are no guarantees, no security to exercise critical journalism," Cantú Murguía said.

"Everything in life has a beginning and an end, a price to pay. And if that’s how life is, I am not willing to let one more of my collaborators pay, myself included,” said Cantu Muguia.

According to the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the probable motive for the murder of Breach her investigative work on the influence of drug trafficking on government entities, principally. Breach had also worked as a correspondent for La Jornada since 1997.

Cantú Murguía also noted in the editorial that throughout the newspaper's 27 years, its journalistic team fought against the tide, to denounce acts of corruption and government misconduct.

The director indicated another reason for the closure was the noncompliance and the “arrogant” refusal of the government to pay the debt it incurred over the past few years with the newspaper for “services rendered”.

According to Sin Embargo, in the last few months, Norte was experiencing one of its deepest financial crises, after the current governor of Chihuahua, Javier Corral Jurado, canceled the state’s information and publicity contracts with the media outlet. Corral also allegedly postponed, for more than 8 months, payment for services previously provided by Norte, Cantú said, according to Sin Embargo.

The month of March was the most violent period for the press in Mexico since 2012, according to Mexican organization Article 19. Three journalists were killed and two suffered serious attacks on their lives, according to online outlet Sin Embargo.

On March 2 Cecilio Pinedo Birto was assassinated in Guerrero, Ricardo Monlui Cabrera was killed on March 19 in Veracruz, and Miroslava Breach was shot on March 23 in Chihuahua. Additionally, on March 28 and 29, Julio Omar Gómez in Baja California Sur and Armando Arrieta Granados in Veracruz suffered serious attacks on their lives, respectively.

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.