Country Focus: Mexico (2)

Mexico press freedom

Journalism In Danger

Student journalist Shruti Rathi tries to find answers to the questions pertaining to media freedom in Mexico

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. This country nothing less than a slaughterhouse for journalists, statistics suggest. Elections are held regularly in the country, making it a democratic nation.

What Makes It The Deadliest Country?

Mexico, the deadliest country in the world for the media in 2020, accounts for almost a third of journalists killed, according to 2020 Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which investigates attacks against the press globally. Mexico has accounted for the murder of at least 120 journalists since 2000. Mexico, a country that is not at war, occupies sixth place in the Index which is just below the open war zones. Overall, at least 90% of journalist killings remain unsolved.

“Mexico is suffering a multi-faceted crisis with regard to press freedom. The situation has been getting steadily worse over the past few years, culminating in the country’s abysmal status as the world’s deadliest for reporters in 2020. The crisis principally stems from impunity,” told CPJ’s Mexico representative Jan-Albert Hootsen The Guardian.

New Bill In Making

Ricardo Monreal, the leader of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) in the upper house of Mexico’s legislature, has proposed a draft bill to curb the power of social media platforms.

Some experts say that it is too bureaucratic. Others say that it borders on state censorship. Yet others say that it violates international treaties. Few believe that it will pass.

Looking Back

In 2018 Mexico emerged as a country where investigations into journalist killings has been tardy. In Mexico, 14 journalists were murdered. Arrests were made in only two cases and these arrests are controversial.

In 2020 Mexico ranked 143 in global press index.

Power Game

The President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself published a series of reports in which the press were labelled as “rivals” or “adversaries,” based on whether they covered the president in a “positive” or “negative” light.

“Nobody wanted to risk being prosecuted by a president who branded their outlets as rivals. So everyone, more in surface than in depth, had to feign acceptable coverage.”

Rights And Duties

The constitution of Mexico guarantees rights to journalists. Article 6 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, access to information, and protection of privacy. Article 7 of the Constitution states, “Freedom of speech, opinion, ideas, and information through any means shall not be abridged.”

Just like rights, another side of the coin, there are some laws that restrict or regulate the freedom of the press. The Press Law, 1917, restricts the national press from reporting on matters of personal privacy, morality, and public health. The 1960 Law on Radio and Television prohibits the broadcast of material considered offensive to national heroes.

Crucial Role of Media

The media has to act as observers, actors and mediators during political crisis.  The roles and values endorsed by Mexican journalists are trapped in contradiction and ambiguity. An assortment of sensational changes is presently forming reporting in Mexico as for the dictator period of complicit relations between the press and the state in Mexico: a wider and plural scope of news sources is empowered by a serious market with a serious stock of alternatives, an unmistakable exercise of the right to speak freely of discourse. In any case, at the centre of journalism a significant number of the standards and practices are as yet in conflict with occupational discourse.

Most journalists believe they fell short of their role and duty, and feel they were obliged to do a much better job, although they do not necessarily know what and how.

The power of the people is being eroded. Hundreds of journalists have been sent to prison. The government is increasingly establishing their control over the world of communication. It is the age of the lapdog media in any case; most media organizations have jumped happily into the lap of power.

Read More: Country Focus – By Suyashi Smridhi

No place for journalist