Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Online Journalism & the Texas-Mexico Border Violence

As violence along the United States and Mexican border escalates exponentially, the analysis of both the causes and the aftermath becomes imperative. How the media conveys this information directly affects the public’s understanding of the situation along the border.

To make informed decisions about the world around them, citizens of both countries must be able to obtain accurate and contextually appropriate news stories on the issue. Drug cartels, angered by media coverage, sometimes brutally attack print newspaper sites and the reporters who write the stories.

Online journalism, in theory, provides an open forum for these same, censored journalists to speak out against their oppressors.

In addition to providing more space, opportunities and outlets for the official press, the web and multimedia journalism also invites citizen journalists to engage in actively in reporting on their hometown through blogs, comments, and social media.

More Space & More Multimedia
The web provides much more space for coverage on the Texas-Mexico border than the average print publication can. For issues as complex as drug violence, ample room for lengthy stories is needed.

Not only can a full-length story or feature run online, photos, videos, podcasts & related blogs can run with it as well. These multimedia fundamentals are vital to appropriate coverage of any issue.

Greater Opportunity for Discussion
With more space comes more freedom. Anonymous blogs, questions, and answers can all be posted online without fear of violence from drug cartels. As mentioned, print publications along the border have been forced to censor content, including the major newspaper, El Diario.

Through blogs and comments, the people experiencing these events near their hometowns can write opinion, analysis, and warning pieces from their own home.

Social Media & Citizen Involvement
As mentioned earlier, there is a much greater chance for intellectual diversity through extra space and opportunity for discussion. This is due to blogs, but involvement in social media as well.

Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace all serve citizens of both the United States and Mexico.

Twitter has become an excellent way to warn or inform neighbors, friends, or even the world, of what is going on in your backyard. When violence and extreme issues take place in your neighborhood, social media allows this information to be transmitted and also makes the media

For example, take a look at this blog entitled “Citizen Journalism and Drug Trafficking in Mexico." The author uses videos, photos, and examples of social media in her discussion of how ordinary people have become involved in social media.

Another example is InfoFrontera's Twitter Page.

These two pages make excellent sources for anyone searching for information on the US-Mexico border issues.


In order to make informed and appropriate actions toward the aid of this international crisis, news organizations must find ways to fulfill the information need that citizens of all nationalities deserve and desire. Online multimedia journalism provides the way to begin improving coverage of this issue and should continue to be utilized by members of the press as well as citizens.

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