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The Journalism Blackout

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 14, 2010 9:58 PM


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Here's another dispatch from a decades-old war, in which the policy and politics never change. You couldn't read this kind of story in the country where the war is raging, because of a virtual news blackout, enforced by fear of vicious reprisal. So what does that mean for the people caught in the crossfire? As the NYT reports,

It means that a mother can huddle on the floor of a closet with her daughter for what seems like eternity as fierce gunfire is exchanged outside their home, as occurred here recently, and then find not a word of it in the next day's paper. And it means that helicopters can swoop overhead, military vehicles can roar through the streets and the entire neighborhood can sound like a war movie, and television can lead off the next day's broadcast talking about something else.

Welcome to life in the Mexican border towns, where, as the Times story reports, even the local American media has been intimidated by drug cartels. As I noted several weeks ago, there's some nice happy talk about cross-border cooperation on environmental issues. At least that's one thing journalists on both sides of the border can feel safe to report on. UPDATE: Over the weekend, three U.S. citizens with ties to a U.S. consulate office in a Mexican border town were killed in an ambush. The AP reports:

The slayings came amid a surge in bloodshed along Mexico's border with Texas and drew condemnation from the White House. Mexico's president expressed outrage and promised a fast investigation to find those responsible.

A fast investigation. In that lawless region, any investigation would do, but even that won't change the facts on the ground. As the AP reports, the U.S. recognizes this:

The State Department authorized U.S. government employees at Ciudad Juarez and five other U.S. consulates in northern Mexico to send family members out of the area because of concerns about rising drug violence. The cities are Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros.

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