In Mexico, where drug wars have taken a toll on the entire society, news of what is going on is hard to come by. Journalists who report on the drug wars, the crimes or the criminals themselves often find themselves targets of violence. Dozens of legitimate journalists have threatened and some have been beaten or killed as a result of their reporting. In the face of this limited news, members of the general public have turned to social media to stay informed about what is going on in their nation. By sharing details on the Facebook page or Tweeting about violence in their neighborhood, communities have slowly begun to take a stand against the forces which seem to be threatening the entire Mexican society. Thus is the power of social media to counter the forces of evil….(now, just imagine what it could do for your business.)
The messages brim with urgency as they pop across computer screens and into cell phones, made all the more stark by their brevity.
“Gunshots heard along Guadiana Blvd,” one Durango resident reported on his Twitter account one recent night. “Three burned-out trucks along the highway to Flor,” read another post.
With many of Mexico’s conventional news outlets no longer willing to risk reporting on the Mexico’s ongoing drug war, a growing number of Mexicans in this country’s northern cities are turning to Internet tools to keep abreast of the conflict raging around them.
They post on Twitter and then retweet what others have posted. They turn to Facebook for news through status updates and links to other sites. Increasingly, they follow crime blogs that specialize in news about narco violence. Some blogs have become popular enough they carry advertising.
Some analysts say the online media tools are helping to fill an informational black hole that opened when drug traffickers began targeting news reporters and their publications.
Around midnight Sunday, assailants tossed a grenade at the offices of the Vanguardia newspaper in the city of Saltillo, the seventh attack on media installations in the northern city in the past two years.
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission puts the number of murdered journalists at 66 since 2005, although other watchdog groups put the number killed or disappeared for reasons related to their profession at a little more than half that.
But others worry that reliable news is still hard to come by as crime bosses, corrupt officials and interested parties put their own spin on events.
“We have passed from a climate of too little information to a climate of information chaos,” said Maria Elena Meneses, an expert on new media at the Mexico City campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
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