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Houston Chronicle shuts down Mexico City bureau, marks "end of an era"

The Houston Chronicle unceremoniously closed its Mexico City bureau on Friday, Oct. 19, ending veteran foreign correspondent and bureau chief Dudley Althaus' 23-year run in the country, reported McClatchy Newspapers’ Tim Johnson on the blog Mexico Unmasked on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Althaus told Johnson that the decision to close the bureau was based on a cost-cutting strategy that aims to shift The Houston Chronicle’s coverage towards local news within a 100-mile radius of the Gulf city, according to the blog. Althaus, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, said he plans to stay in Mexico and continue reporting, according to the website.

The New York Times’ former Mexico City bureau chief Marc Lacey tweeted that the Chronicle’s exit from Mexico and Dudley’s departure marked the “end of an era” for English-language news in the country.

At this writing, neither the Chronicle nor its parent company, Hearst Corporation, had released a statement about the decision to close the bureau.

The American Journalism Review (AJR) released a census of foreign correspondents working for U.S. media that showed a steep drop from 307 full-time reporters working abroad in 2003 to only 234 in 2011. AJR’s website noted that 20 newspapers—not yet counting The Houston Chronicle—and companies had shut down their foreign bureaus since the first census was conducted in 1998.

In response to AJR’s report, Columbia Journalism Review criticized newspapers on its website for puffing up their foreign presence by claiming “bureaus” consisting of one person.

According the AJR report, there were 14 U.S. foreign media bureaus in Mexico City and one Bloomberg News bureau based in the northern city of Monterrey in 2011.


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