Mexicans have good reasons to distrust media on the presidential campaign

The student movement in Mexico, #YoSoy132 (I am 132) recently released a YouTube video to demand transparent news coverage on the presidential campaign in Mexico. Young voters in Mexico claim that Televisa, the largest TV network in the Spanish speaking world, gives favorable coverage to the presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. Their accusations are founded in recent scandals regarding the  ethic of that TV network and other Mexican journalists as well. But Mexicans have other reasons as well to distrust media organizations.

On May 11, the Mexican newspaper Reforma published receipts showing that current presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto paid journalists for “mentions” during his tenure as governor of the state of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. Of roughly $2.4 million paid to journalists, Televisa’s news anchor Joaquín López Dóriga received about $680,000 between January 2006 and July 2007. The payments do not include ad space purchased on Televisa, said Reforma.

The candidate did not deny those payments but explained that they were a sort of sponsorship for the journalists’ comments. Broadcaster Radio Fórmula clarified that those payments were sponsorships that aired before the journalists’ comments although they were not easy to identify for the general public.

Last Friday June 8, the British daily The Guardian sparked controversy in Mexico when it published a story about documents that allegedly prove that Peña Nieto and former President Vicente Fox paid TV network Televisa for favorable coverage that included a campaign to undermine the leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2006.  Televisa sent a letter to The Guardian denying the authenticity of those documents.

A U.S. Embassy cable from Mexico City in June 2009 revealed that political parties promoted their campaigns by paying networks for television coverage in order to bypass restrictions prohibiting candidates from purchasing airtime, reported the website Narco News. This cable was published through Wikileaks.

At the same time, Mexico is considered one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists and media stopped reporting activities of the criminal organizations in risky areas. In the absence of news, Mexicans turn to Twitter and Facebook to fill the void.



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