People occasionally ask whether my life was ever in danger from writing about drug-related border shenanigans, like this one.
Aside from a few odd situations, I like to think that I was more at risk of being in an auto accident driving through one of the city’s infamous traffic circles (left) than being gunned down by drug lords. But that general sense of security may have been because I was being careful – or realistic – about how I managed information.
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that 30 reporters (presumably most of them Mexican) have died or disappeared in Mexico since 2000, and notes that the job can be particularly risky for border reporters. The statistics come from Reporters Without Borders.
“Journalists who want to report on crime are increasingly forced to weigh the risk of retribution by gangsters employing ever more gruesome methods,” according to the article by Ken Ellingwood.
That goes for U.S. journalists as well, I believe. The difference is they get to operate under a different set of rules and have some additional institutional protections. They aren’t usuallly competing against their Mexican counterparts who may feel pressured to divulge sensitive information to beat their competitors. U.S. media also tends to shy away from rumor-based reporting. My frustration was that often times I suspected the rumors were closer to the truth than any official version.