MEXICO

In northern Mexico, a good journalist is a dead journalist

While the murder of three people linked to the US Consulate in north Mexico attracted the attention of the world's media, in the local press the incident went almost entirely unreported. Why? Because local journalists prefer to keep quiet rather than risk losing their lives. The task has now been taken on by web users, able to hide under an anonymous guise.

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A journalist comes under fire in Reynosa, north Mexico, 17 February 2009.

While the murder of three people linked to the US Consulate in north Mexico attracted the attention of the world's media, in the local press the incident went almost entirely unreported. Why? Because local journalists prefer to keep quiet rather than risk losing their lives. The task has now been taken on by web users, able to hide under an anonymous guise.

Cities like Reynosa and Ciudad Jaurez, where the murder took place, are considered by Reporters Without Borders as some of the world's most dangerous places for journalists to work. Located in the state of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas and sees daily violence between drug trafficking gangs, a total of eight journalists are thought to have been kidnapped or killed in a two week period earlier this month.

Intimidation, blackmail and corruption are the daily dealings of journalists who work in the region. For 500 dollars a month (360 euros), a few bottles of alcohol and the occasional prostitute, the drugs barons try to buy the silence of reporters.

As a result, local residents are unable to inform themselves by traditional means. In counter attack, web users post images of shootouts that haven't made it into the traditional press on their blogs, while Twitter is employed as a means of bearing witness to unreported crimes.

Citizens take on the role of reporters

Posted on YouTube by paulvanjaf.

Amateur images filmed after a shootout that took place between 11pm and 6am on 5 March 2010, near Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas (after 01’30).

Video posted on YouTube by "NarcotraficoenMexico", 15 March 2010.

According to the author the bodies of four torture victims were found with their hands and feet tied and with their faces covered in adhesive tape in Nogales.

Posted on YouTube by "balacerasupn" 13 July 2009.

Amateur video of a shootout in the state of Michoacan. At 00’19, a man is seen stepping out of a car with what looks an AK-47.

Posted on YouTube 7 February 2010 by "porteuorochavez".

This footage was filmed on a mobile phone on 7 February 2010 in the town of Nogales, in the state of Sonora. While filming, the author tells her children to move away from the window and go back to bed.

“They tell the news in a way which will offend no drug cartel”

Juan (not his real name) is a partner for a trucking company from Reynosa Tamaulipas. He runs the blog "Todo sobre narcotrafico en Mexico" (All about drug trafficking in Mexico).

I created this blog for the simple reason that nobody in the media was reporting the shootouts, the killings or kidnappings done by the cartels. 

Hundreds of reporters and journalists have been killed in the past few years because of the fact that they were telling the truth. That's why today, newspapers, magazines and TV media are using what's called self-censorship. They want to keep their jobs as reporters or journalists, but they also want to stay alive, so they tell the news in a way which will offend no drug cartel or even government official. The problem of drug trafficking in Mexico is horrible. The majority of the police are garbage, they receive bribes from the drug cartels to not arrest them or seize any drugs.

Today anybody can be a reporter, nowadays most of us have cell phones with a camera, so people send me videos and pictures to my email account.

The situation here is very bad and it's getting worst, recently the Gulf cartel and the Zetas, which had been working together for years, broke ties. As a result there are shootouts almost every day and at any time; both are fighting for control of Tamaulipas, knowing that tons of drugs cross the border to the Unites States through that state."

A journalist comes under fire

Posted on YouTube by "Sonyxp".

On 17 February 2009, a journalist in Reynosa comes under fire during a report on the cartels (after 00’30).