Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mexico's drug war and the internet

The spider and the web

The fog of war descends on cyberspace

MEXICO’S national media have followed every gruesome twist of the government’s battle with organised crime. But in some of the most dangerous areas, local papers are curiously short on details. Last year five newspapers admitted in print that they would stop covering sensitive drug-war stories, such was the risk to their reporters. The year also saw 15 attacks on media offices, up from two in 2009, according to Article 19, a free-speech lobby group. The gangs are even dictating copy. Imagen, a daily in the state of Zacatecas, ran an article last year attacking the army on the orders of a mafia that had kidnapped one of its reporters. Milenio, a TV station, ran part of a mob-scripted report after some of its staff were abducted.

With the traditional media silenced, Mexicans have gone online in search of news. But that now looks risky too. On September 13th two bodies were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, on Mexico’s northern border, with a sign promising the same treatment to all “gossips on the internet”. The notice named two drug-war-focused sites to which the murdered pair had supposedly contributed.

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