September 28, 2011

War in Mexico Gets Little Media Attention

% of Newshole
Afghan- istan 3.6
Middle East Uprising 3.3
Iran 1.5
Iraq 1.3
Immi- gration 1.1
Israel/ Palestine 1
Pakistan 0.9
Japan Quake 0.9
Haiti Quake 0.8
China 0.8
North Korea 0.7
Mexican Drug War 0.6

2:1 – Coverage of the immigration debate compared to that of the Mexican drug war

On September 24, Macias Castro, a local news editor for the Mexican daily paper Primera Hora, was found decapitated in the city of Nuevo Laredo near the Texas border. A note near her body said she had been killed for writing about the drug cartels on social media websites and implicates the powerful cartel, Los Zetas.

Castro is the 7th journalists killed in Mexico this year and, according to Committee to Protect Journalists, the 45th murdered since 2006— when Mexican President Calderon began the campaign to crack down on drug cartels.  Many Mexican news organizations have decided, even publically, to stop reporting on the cartels rather than put their journalists at risk. Dedicated journalists like Castro have, in turn, moved to twitter and other social network sites—using pseudonyms to stay anonymous—to report on the cartels’ actions.

In the five year war, nearly 40,000 people have been killed, including governors, senators, military personnel and citizens, according to media reports.  

The battle is occurring right along the U.S. border and is largely fueled by drug consumption in the U.S.

The story, though, has generated little attention in the U.S. press. Since January 2009, just 0.6% of the U.S. newshole has focused on the Drug War in Mexico, placing it 12th amid all international stories in that period, according to PEJ’s News Coverage Index.

Another border issue, the U.S. immigration debate, has generated twice the attention, 1.1%, garnered by the drug war.

Tricia Sartor of PEJ