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Fear of violence, lack of training, trauma fuel self-censorship in northern Mexico, study found

By Paulina Garza*

Fence separating Tijuana, Mexico (right) and San Diego, Calif. Photo via Wikipedia.

Northern Mexico has fallen into a state of fear creating a silenced media that is less willing to report crime and take on investigative pieces, according a recent University of Arizona study.

The study “Silencing Mexico: A Study of Influences on Journalists in the Northern States,” published in the January 2014 issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics, interviewed 39 journalists in northern Mexico, where members of the press are often more at risk than those based near the country’s power centers, partly because news organizations in the region tend to be smaller with less ability to protect their employees. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the majority of Mexican journalists murdered in the last 10 years worked in northern states.

Fear of violence and the lack of training on conflict reporting and safety procedures were among the main factors contributing to self-censorship, the study said. Many of the journalists interviewed said violence, in one form or another, had deeply traumatized them.

“I wake up at night seeing the dead, smelling the death, and shaking and crying… I try to forget… But honestly, it’s something that you’ll never forget,” one of the journalists said.

The study is part of a broader effort by the UA journalism school to organize journalists in Mexico through a partnership with the University of Sonora in Hermosillo that will feature collaborative reporting published on the Border Journalism Network, a website that showcases student reporting on the US-Mexico border.

*Paulina Garza is a student in the class "Journalism in Latin America" at the University of Texas at Austin.


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