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Journalist slain in Ciudad Juárez, newspaper makes plea to drug cartel

A photographer was shot dead in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez on 16 September, report the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX members. The brazen attack occurred in a mall parking lot and also injured another journalist. In response, the journalists' newspaper published an editorial openly offering to compromise its coverage in order to keep its journalists alive. Meanwhile, violence has escalated in other regions, says the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), with reports of a breakdown in security for journalists and media outlets in Zacatecas.

In Ciudad Juárez, Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, 21, a photographer with the daily "El Diario de Juarez", died in his car after he and photographer Carlos Sánchez Colunga, 18, were shot by gunmen in another vehicle.

The two victims were working at the newspaper under a scholarship programme and had spent the morning at a photography course. But the murder "bore all the hallmarks of a contract-style killing carried out on behalf of one of Mexico's warring drug cartels," reports RSF.

In a stunning example of self-censorship, "El Diario" has decided to restrict its drug coverage. In a front-page editorial on 19 September, the newspaper asked warring drug cartels what they could do to prevent further harm to the staff. The paper said: "We ask you to explain what you want from us, what we should try to publish or not publish, so we know what to expect." Santiago Orozco is the second journalist at the paper to be killed in two years.

Many media outlets in the country have stopped reporting on drug cartels. But "El Diario" persevered until recently, renowned for its ongoing investigative crime reporting. "The fact that they're giving up is really bad. It's an indication that the situation is out of control," CPJ told "The Associated Press".

Drug wars have killed close to 5,000 people in the past two years in Ciudad Juarez, making it one of the world's most dangerous cities, say news reports.

In the central northern area of the country, in Zacatecas, there has been a general increase in threats, kidnappings, extortions, murders and conflicts. This is the same pattern that has occurred in other states where journalists are murdered or disappeared and news gathering suffers tremendously, says IAPA.

On 18 August, alleged members of an organised crime group attempted to force executives of the newspapers "La Jornada de Zacatecas" and "Imagen de Zacatecas" to publish a report against the Army.

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