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Newspaper group in northern Mexico to end crime coverage

MEXICO VIOLENCE/PRESS | 11 de marzo de 2013

A resident of the northern Mexican city of Saltillo holds up the Jan. 8, 2010, edition of the Zocalo newspaper, which carried a front-page story on the murder of one of the daily's reporters. EFE/File

Mexico City, Mar 11 (EFE).- The Zocalo newspaper group, which publishes dailies in northern Mexico, said that commencing Monday it would stop reporting on organized crime because "there are no guarantees or security for the full exercise of journalism."

The decision was made by the editorial council at Zocalo, which owns newspapers in the cities of Saltillo, Monclova, Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña, all located in the northern state of Coahuila.

The end of crime coverage is aimed at ensuring the safety of reporters, the media company said.

Coverage of drug cartels and other organized crime groups is ending because the company has a responsibility to "watch out for the well-being and safety of more then 1,000 employees" and their families, Zocalo said in an editorial.

A criminal organization put up posters around the state last week threatening Zocalo chief Francisco Juaristi.

Zocalo is not the first Mexican media company to cease covering the war on drugs.

In July 2012, El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo, a newspaper in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, announced it would no longer "report on violent incidents that are the product of the war between rival criminal groups."

El Mañana's offices were the target of grenade attacks twice last year.

Several media outlets in northern Mexico have been attacked in the past few weeks and two people, including journalist Jaime Guadalupe Gonzalez, have been killed.

Gonzalez, editor of an online news site, was killed by gunmen in Ojinaga, a border city in the northern state of Chihuahua, on March 3.

Gonzalez was the first journalist murdered since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1.

Gunmen opened fire on two media outlets in Ciudad Juarez, another border city in Chihuahua, on March 6, but no one was injured.

The gunmen targeted the offices of Diario de Ciudad Juarez, the border city's largest newspaper, and the Channel 44 television station.

Unidentified individuals attacked the offices of the El Siglo newspaper in Torreon, a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, earlier this month, killing one person and wounding two others.

Amnesty International called on the Mexican government last week to do more to protect journalists in the wake of Gonzalez's murder.

"The repeated killing of journalists in recent years, which can only have been encouraged by the prevailing impunity for such crimes, has had a direct impact on reporting in Mexico," the human rights group said.

Fourteen journalists were murdered during the 2006-2012 administration of President Felipe Calderon, the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, said.

A total of 82 journalists have been murdered and 18 others have been reported missing since 2005 in Mexico, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, said in a report released in December.

Some 658 complaints were received from members of the news media from Jan. 1, 2005, to Nov. 30, 2012, the rights body said.

An International Press Institute, or IPI, and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, or WAN-IFRA, delegation visited Mexico last month and called for more protection for journalists.

Both the IPI and Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, ranked Mexico as the fourth most dangerous country in the world for journalists in 2012, trailing only Syria, Somalia and Pakistan.

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