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Scary and Dangerous Reporting – The Mexican Drug War

October 8, 2011

In case you didn’t know – I work with books, everyday of my life. Quite the job for someone like me who reads all the time, right? Well, every once in a while, I’ll get a good book that really makes me think. If you know me, even a little bit, then you’ll also know those are precisely the books I like to read. The morally and ethically challenged books are my favorite, especially when they deal with my favorite school subject, Journalism!

I got a book recently called A Thousand Bayonets, by a journalist/screenwriter/movie producer from Vancouver. Thankfully, I’m doing a social media campaign for the book – and the first thing I immediately thought of was the drug war in Mexico. It’s completely a great angle to tie the book to, and could get some great engagement.

But, its the Mexican drug war. And if you know anything about the Mexican drug war, they are known for viciously and brutally murdering journalists and citizens reporting the war in the news and social media.  Over 100 American citizens have been murdered while in Mexico, and the beaches and former resorts where we all spent Spring Break (sans me) have become extremely unsafe.  It’s not just the Mexican citizens, but our own citizens being brutally murdered as well. Some of these crimes have even taken place on American soil.

I’ve followed the Mexican drug war for quite some time now, simply because a) I heard it on NPR, and was really disgusted, and b) I felt like I’d heard nothing about it before – which disgusted me even more.  After Googling a little bit about the whole thing, I became more disgruntled about the lack of articles and reporting involved. Yes, it’s another country, but that country is so close, and provides a lot of the narcotics American people use.  Still even today, while doing research for the client, I realized that only the LA Times, NPR, and Huffington Post are even relatively covering this like journalists should be covering the topic.

Then it became clear to me, one day, while looking for potentially influential people to follow, I got a little scared. I mean, I was doing exactly what the drug cartels didn’t want, some journalist tweeting about the drug war. So, even though I’m in America, and he’s somewhere else I suppose it could be okay, right?

The safest picture I could find...

I can’t decide if, as a journalist, it’s more important to do the dangerous in effort of maintaining the position as society’s watchdog, or if your life and safety are the most important. Being the bleeding heart that I am, I’d like to think that if I were a reporter, I’d go all the way, hiding in the bushes while the drug boss orders a hit (although I don’t think that would take place outside?!) and hanging out in the barn loft while a hit takes place (yes that probably is more likely).

What’s at stake? Being hung in public, my limbs chopped off, or being decapitated with my head placed on the Texas/Mexico border? (Yes these are also totally possible. Just check out a few news articles about it. Gross.)

I think it matters where we are. Are the drug cartels going to come find me for writing this blog post? Probably not. But what could it hurt, since it seems no one really knows how bad it is, for a few journalists in the Midwest to start covering it, or a few journalists in New York, or Washington? This affects us all, and we should all be aware of it, covering it, and doing our job as journalists and bloggers to get the word out.  Isn’t that our jobs as journalism professionals? To inform the public? So why aren’t we?  Are we doing enough?

Timeline by two LA Times Reporters since 2008- covering the drug war in Mexico.

Some News is So Big it Needs its Own Page – Huffington Post

A Thousand Bayonets – by Joel Mark Harris 

 

 

 

 

 

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