Drug War Reporters Die to Get the Truth Out

By McCarton Ackerman 05/06/13

More than 50 Mexican journalists have lost their lives while covering the violence.

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"Killing journalists won't kill the truth."
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More journalists in Mexico are being killed in their efforts to cover the drug war, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. “There’s no real hope there for journalists. And it's getting worse,” Anthony Coulson, a former DEA agent stationed in Arizona, told the New York Daily News. More than 50 journalists have reportedly died or disappeared since 2006, and a recent survey by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders listed Mexico as the fourth-most dangerous country for reporters, writing that the violence "targets journalists who dare to cover drug trafficking, corruption (and) organized crime’s infiltration of local and federal government." Over the weekend, two sons of prominent Mexican journalists, 20-year-old Alfredo Paramo and 21-year-old Diego Paramo were shot to death after being chased by gunmen in a car in the northern city of Chihuahua. Last week, radio and television announcer Jose Gerardo Padillo Blanquet vanished in Saltillo and the outlet he works for, Radio Grande de Coahuila, has received numerous threats over their narcotics coverage. Last week in the same city, 22-year-old photographer Daniel Alejandro Martinez was found dead and mangled in the middle of a busy street.

Since traditional reporters are now afraid to cover events on the field, social media users, like the anonymous blogger "Lucy" behind Blog del Narco, have stepped in to try and inform the public of drug cartel violence. However, the cartels have also begun to use the same outlets in an effort to stamp out reporting; last February, a video was posted of a man on his knees talking about Facebook page Valor Por Tamaulipas (Courage For Tamaulipas) which posts security updates for the state of Tamaulipas, and urged fellow social media users to stop reporting information on cartel violence. “Please refrain from publishing any information—if not, this is the price you will pay,” he says before a masked man appears to shoot him in the head. Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists described the ongoing tension in the country as "a war being fought in the streets and a war for information. People are terrified. And so are the journalists."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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