When deadlines are the least of a journalist’s troubles

A drug murder in Mexico. Source: AP

In the New York Times, further confirmation of just how dangerous a profession journalism has become in the badlands of Mexico’s border-towns:

Traffickers have gone after the media with a vengeance in these strategic border towns where drugs are smuggled across by the ton. They have shot up newsrooms, kidnapped and killed staff members and called up the media regularly with threats that were not the least bit veiled. Back off, the thugs said. Do not dare print our names. We will kill you the next time you publish a photograph like that.

It’s a bracing antidote to those concerned that “new media” or similar amorphous threats will signal the end of journalism. Of course, business models are changing. But the need for news, and the dangers of gathering it, remain as real as ever – as is the hole when journalism flees:

it means that helicopters can swoop overhead, military vehicles can roar through the streets and the entire neighborhood can sound like a war movie, and television can lead off the next day’s broadcast talking about something else. Even some authorities, including Mayor Óscar Lubbert of Reynosa, acknowledge that without news reports, it is harder for them to get a full picture of how much blood is spilled overnight, partly because the traffickers sometimes haul their dead comrades away before the sun comes up.

… it means that helicopters can swoop overhead, military vehicles can roar through the streets and the entire neighborhood can sound like a war movie, and television can lead off the next day’s broadcast talking about something else. Even some authorities, including Mayor Óscar Lubbert of Reynosa, acknowledge that without news reports, it is harder for them to get a full picture of how much blood is spilled overnight, partly because the traffickers sometimes haul their dead comrades away before the sun comes up.