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a concrete lesson for Mexican journalists (and others)

September 10, 2010

After Mexican officials protested US Secretary of State Clinton’s comparison of Mexico’s current drug-related violence to Colombia twenty years ago, President Obama publicly dismissed that comparison in an interview with La Opinión, a Spanish language Los Angeles newspaper. Diplomatic face-saving aside, Mexico could take some lessons from Colombia, as an AP report recently pointed out. One critical difference has been the performance of the Mexican press:

Mexico has far surpassed Colombia as the most dangerous country in the Americas for journalists. Twenty-two have been killed since Calderon took office, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. In Colombia, one journalist was killed last year and none in 2008.

Mexico’s news media have, with a few exceptions, balked at taking on the cartels. Many regional newspapers and broadcasters don’t even cover the drug war. And CPJ director Joel Simon says cartels in some Mexican cities are paying off journalists.

That contrasts with Colombia, where journalists in the Medellin cartel’s heyday boldly took on the narcos, often serving as a proxy for a justice system crippled by cartel attacks.

To protect reporters from assassination, Colombia’s news media would often share and publish the same information simultaneously and without bylines.

In Mexico, that’s not happening.

By the way, here’s a case where the most socially beneficial response is solidarity, not competition…

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