Technology Fills Gap in Reporting Mexican Drug Cartel Violence

Journalists have been murdered at an alarming rate in Mexico over the last few years, and the frightening trend has effectively paralyzed the local news industry. After the murder of a photojournalist at Ciudad Juarez's biggest paper, the Diario de Juárez, the staff responded with a front page editorial pleading with the cartels: "We need you to explain to us what you want us to publish and what not."

At least 30 journalists have been killed since President Felipe Calderon's War on Drugs began in 2006—11 have been murdered in Mexico this year alone. An editor at a local paper in the Tamaulipas region told The Guardian that she openly follows instructions from local drug traffickers on what she should and should not report on. She is too fearful to share her name or her concerns with her colleagues since she has no idea who could be on the narco's payroll, but she does have one outlet: Twitter.

"Sometimes the emotion of a story gets to me and I put it on Twitter," she admits. "Especially when I know it won't get out otherwise."

Twitter feeds and blogs are fast becoming the most reliable source of news about the terror caused by the narcotraffickers in Mexico. The ability to remain anonymous and post information the second it happens has proven indispensable. El Blog del Narco, which received 4 million hits in one month recently, meticulously catalogues the murders, shoot-outs and arrests of the Mexican drug cartels. The blog posts all of the information it receives without filtering it, meaning no edits or comments are made on the content. "Blog del Narco grew because the media and the government are trying to pretend that nothing is happening in Mexico," the anonymous administrator said.