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Attack on Mexican Newspaper Causes Alarm

For Immediate Release

David Carlson, President, (352) 846-0171 or carlson@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS ‑ The Society of Professional Journalists is grieved that an attack on a crusading Mexican newspaper near the Texas border has silenced its investigative reporting on drug traffickers.

The Society is outraged that this attack, in which the office of El Mañana in Nuevo Laredo was sprayed with bullets and reporter Jaime Orozco Tey was critically wounded, is just one of many by crime lords acting with impunity to silence the free media of Northern Mexico.

We urge Mexican government officials to act quickly to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for this and other attacks on news media and to assure the right of El Mañana and other newspapers to publish freely in the interests of their community. We hope Mexican president Vicente Fox will follow through on his promise that his government will search out and prosecute these attackers.

As a result of the attack, El Mañana owner Ramon Cantu told the Associated Press there would be "zero investigations into the narcos." His paper, he said, would report the almost daily gang-related deaths but would go no further.

While we are saddened at the loss of the investigative fervor of El Mañana, we can understand Cantu’s decision to protect his staff and business, even though this step has left the community without an advocate to fight the traffickers.

“What happened in Nuevo Laredo is what drug dealers, corrupt government officials, and human smugglers want to happen throughout Northern Mexico. They want to silence free media,” said SPJ President David Carlson.

“Journalists throughout the area have become prime targets of these people, and little has been done to bring the attackers to justice,” added Dan Kubiske, co-chair of SPJ’s International Journalism Committee.

The Society of Professional Journalists renews its support of Project Impunity, run by the Inter American Press Association. This project highlights the failures of many governments in the Americas to properly investigate the deaths of reporters.

“The episode in Nuevo Laredo and the intimidation throughout Northern Mexico are just more examples of how freedom of expression and freedom of the press are under daily and deadly attack,” Carlson said.

More journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past two years than in Colombia, previously the hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists. Most of those deaths were at the hands of drug traffickers. Nuevo Laredo is not a stranger to these attacks on journalists. Last April, a female radio crime reporter was fatally wounded.

“Intimidation of free media is not limited to this portion of the world,” Kubiske said.

“Attacks on journalists and media outlets across the globe by forces ranging from narco-traffickers to political or religious zealots all seek the same end: silencing free media,” he added.

The Society of Professional Journalists not only stands opposed to the goals and the methods of those who would seek to intimidate journalists, we will always stand foursquare in the defense of freedom of expression and all that it implies.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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