Mexican Media Make Self-Censorship Official

March 25, 2011

by South Notes

Most major national news outlets in Mexico have signed onto a 10 point plan that lays out ground rules for reporting on the Drug War.

Some hail it as a necessary code of ethics in an media environment that often sensationalizes violent news stories. Others condemn it for further restricting a press that already practices a significant amount of self-censorship.

Among the rules are the requirements that reporters take a position against violence perpetrated by organized crime, not allow themselves to become “involuntary spokespersons” for the cartels, and “not interfere in the combat against crime” by publishing information that could put an investigation or operation at risk.

Only four major national media outlets have not signed onto the pact; 2 newspapers (La Jornada and Reforma), the weekly investigative news magazine Proceso, and the MVS broadcasting company. Another notable exception is the Diario de Juárez, the leading newspaper in the city known as ground zero for the militarized offensive against organized crime. But even those outlets may face pressure to conform to the new guidelines.

Mexican senators have indicated they’ll move a proposal as early as next week to make the voluntary reporting guidelines law.