Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mexican media takes stand against narcoviolence

Members of the Mexican media have published an agreement that they will not shirk from covering the narcoviolence currently gripping the country.
The six-page document, available as a PDF through El Universal, was signed by a range of representatives of the mass media -- print, broadcast and Internet -- at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City this morning. No government officials were invited or provided assistance, La Jornada reports.
The document reveals the media's stance as unequivocally against the drug cartels. Among the editorial positions taken by the agreement are to take a stand against the cartels -- "Under no circumstance should the media justify the actions and the arguments of organized crime and terrorism" -- and to avoid being an involuntary voice for them -- i.e., by not portraying the guilty or presumed guilty as "victims or public heroes." In some ways this puts the media behind the state -- most notably in the editorial position of not interfering with law-enforcement operations. The media signatories to the agreement vow not to disseminate information that would jeopardize state policies or personnel engaged in the struggle against the cartels.
This is a 180-degree turn from, say, the devil-may-care disclosures of WikiLeaks ... or even the recent reportage of US newspapers like The New York Times. Yet it is understandable. "According to the international organizations that are the most well-versed in this issue, Mexico is one of the riskiest countries for practicing journalism or the freedom of the press" as a result of organized crime, the agreement states, adding that "Today, the freedom of expression is threatened."
That said, the press is trying to stay as objective as it can. The agreement includes a reminder of the media's function to take note of any actions of the state that might go outside the law or violate human rights. It also asks signatories to remember that those detained by the state, however odious the accusations are against them, are innocent until proven guilty.

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