Writing in Fear: Journalists covering the Mexican Drug Wars

By: Melinda Balandra

Journalists have a duty to dedicate themselves to the task of informing. Their mission is to report on issues of importance to the community. If taken at face value, a journalist’s job may seem simple; find and report relevant news to the public. However, journalistic duties become more complex when covering serious issues. Which begs the question, how far should a journalist go to uncover the truth? Throughout history, journalists have risked their careers in the pursuit of knowledge. Now, they are putting their lives at stake to keep the public informed on the violent drug wars occurring in Mexico.

Mexico is currently at odds with drug cartels that have terrorized the country into a state of havoc. In the city of Juarez, nearly 5,000 innocent people have been killed due to the violence between two cartels that are fighting for control of the city. The Mexican government is not keeping its citizens informed on the issue, and citizens are too scared to speak about what is happening. Therefore, journalists find themselves on the front lines of the violence, trying to report the bloodshed to the public.

As a result of being loyal to their public duties, journalists are the new targets of drug cartels. They are risking their lives so that the citizens of Mexico, along with the rest of the world, are aware of the devastation being caused by Mexican drug cartels.

Despite the bravery and resistance of the press amidst the chaos, major newspapers are now beginning to cut their drug war coverage in response to several threats and the slaying of 22 Mexican journalists in a span of 4 years. One of the newspapers wrote a letter to the cartels, explaining that lives are more important than the story, and it asks the cartel for a truce in killing journalists.

Many journalists have lost their lives while attempting to make the world aware of Mexico’s current state of helplessness and despair. Still, the press is losing the battle over the control of information.

A journalist’s duties to the public may seem simple at first glance, but when lives are being threatened, reporters are being murdered, and the press becomes the target of a powerful and violent drug cartel… journalistic duties become extremely difficult to fulfill.

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One Response to Writing in Fear: Journalists covering the Mexican Drug Wars

  1. Kay Gilbert says:

    This is so sad! Drug lords are more powerful than the media, and it if they don;t like a story they just kill the writer. I would never want to be a journalists under those conditions. I am afraid to go to Mexico right now because I fear the drug lords. It was just reported a few days ago that a college boy visiting from California, was shot point blank in the head and killed for no apparent reason. This incident reminds me of why it is that I am so grateful to live here in the good old United States of America.

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