Zocalo newspaper group says it won't report on organized crime

A newspaper group in northern Mexico has declared it will no longer report on organized crime, becoming the latest media outlet to admit that it has been silenced by Mexico's drug war.

Zocalo, which publishes editions in four cities in the state of Coahuila, announced in an editorial: "The decision to suspend the publication of all information related to organized crime is based on our responsibility to ensure the integrity and security of our more than 1,000 workers, their families and ours."

"There are no security guarantees to fully carry out journalism," it added.

The decision follows a series of threats targeting the group's director, Francisco Juaristi, which appeared on "narcomanta" banners hung in several locations across the state.

Over the last month, Mexico has seen a wave of violence targeting the press. In February, five journalists from the newspaper El Siglo de Torreon, also based in Coahuila, were briefly kidnapped and threatened. The newspapers offices were shot up three times in three days later that month.

In early March, the director of news website Ojinaga Noticias, Jaime Guadalupe Gonzalez, was shot and killed in Chihuahua state. The same week, Ciudad Juarez newspaper Diario and TV station Canal 44 were both shot up on the same night -- although the authorities have stated that they do not believe the attacks were linked to organized crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

In recent years, Mexico has earned a reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. According to the Inter-American Press Society, there have been 127 registered attacks against Mexican journalists in the last 12 years, and attacks have risen dramatically since then-President Felipe Calderon launched his assault on Mexico's drug cartels in 2006.

This is not the first time a Mexican publication has openly capitulated in the face of threats and violence. In 2010, one Ciudad Juarez newspaper published a front page editorial pleading with the cartels to "explain to us what you want, what you expect us to publish or stop publishing." The call followed the murder of two of its reporters in two years.

Following a grenade attack on its premises in 2012, Nuevo Laredo newspaper El Mañana announced that it would avoid "reproducing facts about violence that is a product of the war between criminal groups."

However, these cases are merely the most open expressions of the self-censorship that is rife in Mexico's conflict zones, which more commonly manifests itself as an individual survival tactic rather than an editorial policy. Journalists quickly learn what they can and cannot report, often leading to a stripped-down style, consisting of neutral facts shorn of information or context that could offer insight into the criminal underworld. This so-called "narco-censorship" is exacerbated by the fact that some newsrooms are infiltrated by criminal groups, who pay off members of the editorial staff.

The unrestricted and anonymous world of social media and blogging can provide an outlet for the type of crime reporting abandoned by the mainstream media. However, even this has not escaped the reach of the cartels and several people have apparently been murdered for their citizen journalism, emphasizing the extent of criminal groups' desire and ability to impose a media blackout about their activities.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.