Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Press freedom in Mexico: record number of murders, no coverage

June 21, 7:00 PM -- Listening to NPR there was a very short item that caught my attention: the month of May saw the highest number of homicides in Mexico of any month in 20 years.

So preparing material for tomorrow's edition of "Hablemos con Teodoro," the 2-hour news and commentary show that I produce and second-fiddle host on, I did a Google news search in Spanish.

I found one (count 'em: 1), just one story -- on the web site of El Heraldo from the city of Saltillo in northern México, which is at the center of a metro area of 800,000 people.

The story was from XINHUA, the official press service of the People's Republic of China.

I did the same search in English and found stories in at least a dozen web sites, some from Reuters, others from AP.

The English-language stories made clear that they said it was the bloodiest May in 20 years because earlier figures were not available.

I suspect that simply means that figures from the pre-Internet era are not online, and this may well be the bloodiest May ever or at least going back many decades.

This is what happens when you have six journalists murdered so far this year, and more than 100 in this century, and hundreds of other attacks on the media, in addition to the spying that the New York Times revealed on Monday. And a grand total of three of these crimes have been solved. Three.

By tomorrow morning I'm sure, a few more outlets, perhaps many, will cover the story. But first there will be panicked conversations in the offices of editors and publishers:

"We have to have it -- it's too important to ignore.
"Agreed, but let's not be among the first -- the nail that sticks out is the one that gets hammered
"Perhaps Televisa will have it tonight ...

Of course, it will be different in those areas where newspapers and TV stations have announced they simply will not cover crime news, because to do so is suicide.

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