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Media Agree on Terms for Reporting on Violence

By: Patrick Ellis | Real Acapulco News - 26 March, 2011

(Mexico City, AN 25 March) Communications media from all over the country have signed an “Agreement on Coverage of Violence,” which is designed to guarantee freedom of expression in the environment of criminality and violence that confronts all of Mexico. Representatives of 175 media organizations, including newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and Internet sites, have agreed to adopt a strategy to report fully on organized crime, but without distributing criminal propaganda. Journalists in Mexico are constantly being threatened or killed if they do not publish whatever crime kingpins whimsically demand them to print or broadcast.

The document recognizes that Mexico is going through an unprecedented period of organized lawlessness and violence, putting the government to the test of combating groups that have adopted terrorism as their operating principle. “Organized crime and the terror they have been able to propagate threatens in many parts of this country our fundamental freedoms, like the freedom of expression and the right to move freely,” said Carlos Loret de Mola, one of the organizers of the event, which took place in the Museum of Archeology in the capital. He added, “The agreement proposes to search for common editorial policies that fairly reflect what is happening, but do not work to perpetuate the reign of terror that is the objective of the delinquent groups.”

The policy will protect the identity and privacy of victims, study mechanisms to protect journalists, and promote respect for law. Other measures are to regulate how violence is reported, presumably not to report the content of “narco-messages” or print sensational photos and accounts of cruelty. The policy also addresses the presumption of innocence, and instructs the media not to make accusations prior to the conclusion of legal process. (This probably means inserting “alleged” in front of every noun that may be used in connection with a crime.) A citizen´s group will be organized to evaluate how the participating media are doing with the new set of policies on reporting violence and criminal conduct.

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