“Explain what you want from us”: Mexican paper restricts drug war coverage after journalist murdered

A photojournalist working for a newspaper in Mexico’s most violent city
has been murdered, bringing Mexico’s journalist death toll to 22 in just
four years. In response, the paper will restrict its coverage of the
drug war.

Last week, two photographers working for El Diario de Juárez, the main newspaper in Ciudad Juáre, Mexico, one a new employee and the other an intern, were attacked by gunmen as they were leaving their office for lunch. Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, died and the intern was seriously wounded, The Guardian reports. Santiago is the second El Diario employee to be murdered in less than two years: in 2008 a crime reporter was murdered as he walked his daughters to school.

A translated version of the paper’s Spanish-language front-page editorial has ignited ethics debates.

The Guardian reports this translation:

“Leaders of the different organisations that are fighting for control of Ciudad Juárez: the loss of two reporters from this publishing house in less than two years represents an irreparable sorrow for all of us who work here, and, in particular, for their families,” the editorial said. “We ask you to explain what you want from us, what we should try to publish or not publish, so we know what to expect.”

The editorial said that the plea was directed directly at the ddrug gangs because they are now the city’s actual authorities. Mexico’s interior ministry has called the attacks an attack on freedom of expression, but another El Diario editorial condemned government for doing nothing about assaults and threats against journalists from drug cartels, despite campaign promises to protect them.

The Guardian writes:

“Many media outlets, especially in areas near the US border, have stopped covering the drug war. El Diario was not one of them – until yesterday.

“”Even in one of the places where violence is worst … El Diario was still doing a lot of good reporting on crime,” said Carlos Lauria, a CPJ senior co-ordinator. “The fact that they’re giving up is really bad. It’s an indication that the situation is out of control.””

In yesterday’s editorial, the paper said it addressed its plea to the drug gangs because they are now the city’s de facto authorities. It also said Calderón made several promises as a presidential candidate to protect journalists that have not been fulfilled.