Year after year, Mexico continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous and deadly countries for the media. President López Obrador, in power since December 2018, has not yet undertaken the necessary reforms to stop the spiral of violence against the press.
Mexico is one of the countries with the highest media concentrations in the world, and entry to the broadcasting sector by smaller, independent media outlets is extremely difficult. The telecom sector is dominated by Telmex; broadcasting is controlled by Televisa; and the newspaper sector is substantially led by Organización Editorial Mexicana, which owns 70 Mexican daily newspapers, 24 radio stations and 44 websites. The number of independent journalists uploading their own reports on social media is on the rise.
President López Obrador and other government officials have adopted a combative and stigmatizing rhetoric against the press, frequently accusing journalists of promoting the opposition's agenda. They have established a space every Wednesday called, "Who's Who in Fake News,” in yet another attempt by the government to discredit journalists. In the three years of his administration, the President has criticized journalists for their lack of professionalism, and has described the Mexican press as "biased", "unfair" and "the scum of journalism."
Press freedom is guaranteed in the Mexican Constitution and further upheld in the Law Regarding Freedom of the Press of 1917. In practice, there are no overtly restrictive laws that curtail or censor press freedom, with censorship imposed with threats or direct attacks against the journalists rather than lawsuits, imprisonment, or rulings of suspension of activities.
Mexico's economy is diversified, including hi-tech industries, oil production, mineral exploitation, and manufacturing. Although it is the second largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil, Mexico was hard-hit by the pandemic with more than 2 million jobs lost between March and December 2020. Journalists have had to seek alternative sources of income while attempting to continue their journalistic work as freelancers.
Mexico is a huge country with one of the most populated cities in the world, Mexico City, and at least other seven cities with over a million inhabitants. The popularity of telenovelas has traditionally been the link between mass media and the sources of information for the general population, given that Televisa, a family-owned private company with links to the government, is the biggest supplier of both.
Collusion between officials and organized crime poses a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels. Journalists who cover sensitive political stories or crime, especially at the local level, are warned, threatened and then often gunned down in cold blood. Others are abducted and never seen again, or they flee abroad as the only way to ensure their survival. President López Obrador still hasn’t carried out the reforms needed to rein in this violence and impunity. More then 150 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000.