Report: Violence has eclipsed other important issues faced by Mexican press

A new study on the state of press freedom in Mexico says the growing violence in Mexico is so brutal, it has made problems like censorship, lack of training, and regulation pale in comparison.

The report, titled “Journalism and the Right to Freedom of Expression” (PDF file) and organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico (OHCHR), argues that violence faced by the media and journalists, who are killed over “almost anything,” is only one of the challenges faced by the sector.

“While this context is clearly alarming, it should not lead one to overlook the other obstacles that similarly undermine the optimal performance of journalism, like the lack or intermittent access to specialized training, (…) censorship, and the gaps in the difficult and elusive process of self regulation,” writes Javier Hernández, the representative in Mexico for the OHCHR.

Over the last ten years, 66 journalists were killed in Mexico, including ten in 2010. For more details about the recent violence faced by Mexican journalists, see this Knight Center map.

In this context, the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS) says there has not been a clear response from the state in terms of reporter protection and investigating crimes against journalists. It believes the cooperation between the OHCHR and the government to create a security protocol for journalists and human rights activists and changes to the office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists are steps in the right direction. However, CENCOS argues that neither initiative has had any concrete effects.

The OHCHR report was organized by journalists Sanjuana Martínez and Marcela Turati with Article 19’s Mexico director Darío Ramírez and others. In his chapter, Ramírez calls attention to indirect censorship via government advertising, while Martínez and Turati describe the rigors faced by journalists that cover drug trafficking, which takes place “between notebooks and heavily armed soldiers, between goat horns [AK47s] and cameras, between grenades and computers.”

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.

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