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Blog Carnival: Mexico – Citizen Media on the Scene

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

In this second entry of the summary of the Blog Carnival: Mexico – Citizenry, Violence and Blogs, we present the posts that discussed the use of the internet in this violent context. Bloggers spoke a lot about the role of the internet in today's society, and issues heavily argued upon like the existence of citizen media. Will citizen media replace traditional reporting? Does it transcend or impact the reality of society? These questions led bloggers to consider the internet as a fundamental right and a reason to strengthen and introduce ways of guaranteeing freedom of expression.

Bloggers considered the relationship between violence, citizenry and blogs not only from the perspective of the internet, but also from the media as a whole. Today information isn't a right to merely consume information, but rather citizens feel there is a need to be able to produce and share content. We could affirm that a certain tension is still lurking between ‘official’ and ‘citizen’ reporting.

Stop the bloodshed. From Flickr user otromundoesposible_com (CC BY 2.0).

Stop the bloodshed. From Flickr user otromundoesposible_com (CC BY 2.0).

Citizen reporters on the scene

A good example of the aforementioned tension is Miguel Ángel Guevara's reflection on the media coverage of violence in his post “La eterna primavera” [es] (The eternal spring) from his blog mit liv:

No comparto la idea de censurar la información, pero si creo que los medios de comunicación deben de ejercer su labor de una forma más responsable. ¿Cuáles son los efectos a largo plazo en un niño que sólo escucha noticias violentas? ¿Estamos creando seres humanos violentos desde el inicio de sus vidas? La cobertura mediática va más allá de las líneas tradicionales de libertad de expresión, trascienden hasta la naturaleza humana e irrumpen el tejido social. Los ciudadanos debemos de exigir una cobertura más sana, íntegra y objetiva. Podemos hacerlo compartiendo experiencias, informando, organizándonos para exigir a las autoridades.

I don't agree with the idea of censoring information, but I do believe that the media should execute its function in a responsible manner. What are the long term effects on a child who listens to violent content over an extended period of time? Are we creating violent human beings from the start of their lives? Media coverage goes beyond the traditional lines of freedom of expression, transcending human nature and interrupting the natural flow of society. Citizens should demand cleaner and more objective media coverage. We can do it by sharing experiences, informing and by organizing ourselves to face authorities.

Jorge Escudero Villa in his blog Óbice writes [es] about the search for truth and its importance in citizen media:

Para llegar a descubrir la verdad, en la medida en que esto sea humanamente posible, es necesario poder discutir todos los elementos relevantes, y hasta los irrelevantes, dejando que cualquier persona se exprese sobre cierto tema y confrontar opiniones, es por ello que el Blog se convierte en un instrumento valiosísimo. Es en el contexto, narrado en supra líneas, donde se esconden historias que no se muestran en medios de comunicación “tradicionales”, además, ni son políticamente correctos; son en todo caso, el reflejo de una sociedad, que pretende, con letras a veces escritas con sangre, sanar del dolor inmenso y contínuo que sufre y que de ninguna manera debe volverse cotidiano,

To get to the truth, or as close as humanly possible to it, it is necessary to be able to discuss all relevant elements, and even the not so relevant, allowing everyone to express him/herself about certain issues and share opinions. This is why blogs are such an important tool. It is in this context, told in vague lines, where we can find stories that are not reported on “traditional” media or that are not politically correct; they are all in all a reflection of society, that aim, with words sometimes written in blood, to heal the immense and ongoing pain we are suffering, a pain that should by no means become routine.

Enrique Figueroa Anaya of Asfalto Tecnicolor asks “What kind of country are we creating for the future Mexicans who will live in it?” and discusses [es] the use of blogs:

No pretendo cambiar al mundo, ni tampoco pretendo ser un revolucionario de sofá que por twitter y blog “alza la voz” para después regresar a la televisión y perderse en la liga de fútbol de mi país (sí veo el fútbol eh, tengo derecho a escaparme por un ratito del día a día). Soy sólo un ciudadano sencillo que con el día a día de sus acciones busca lograr un cambio, un mejor sitio para los que están en mi entorno, e inclusive un momento de reflexión que nos lleve a dar ese pequeño extra que en general podría levantar a nuestro país. Porque si bien los grandes revolucionarios serán siempre admirados por sus agallas y liderazgo, al final como la historia misma, los cambios los escribimos los anónimos con nuestras pequeñas acciones.

I do not intend to change the world, nor do I intend to become a revolutionary from my sofa and only raise my voice through Twitter and blogging and then go back to watching television and getting lost in my country's football league (yes, I watch football, I have a right to escape a little from day to day). I am only a simple citizen trying to make a difference with my day to day actions to create a better place for everyone around me, and even inspire a moment of reflection that pushes us to give that little extra that in general can help to lift our country. Because, even if the greatest revolutionaries were always admired for their guts and leadership, in the end, just as it is with history, changes are written by the anonymous with our small actions.

But when we talk about citizen media we are not just talking about blogs. Ernesto Priego reminds us of this in the post  “On Hero Reports and Civic Media” [es], published in #SinLugar:

la instancia más exitosa de este proyecto ha sido precisamente el implementado en Ciudad Juárez, y que se conoce en español como Crónicas de héroes. Mediante una campaña de difusión y de integración-compromiso público, el equipo dirigido por Yesica Guerra, trabajando con Tec Milenio, Tec. de Monterrey campus Juárez, IADA, Preparatoria Allende, Uniendo Esfuerzos por Juárez, ha animado a ciudadanos a reportar casos de “heroísmo” cívico, geolocalizándolos y visualizándolos en un mapa interactivo.

the most successful moment in this project (MIT Centre for Civic Media) has been implemented in Ciudad Juárez, and is known in Spanish as Crónicas de héroes [es] (Hero Chronicles). Through a publicity and audience integration-compromise campaign, the team led by Yesica Guerra, working with Tec Milenio, Tec. of Monterrey Juárez campus, IADA, Preparatoria Allende, Uniendo Esfuerzos por Juárez (Uniting Forces for Juarez), has encouraged citizens to report cases of civic “heroism”, locating them and visualising them in an interactive map.

And it is precisely Yesica Guerra who from her blog at the Center for Civic Media tells us that Crónicas de héroes [es] will soon reach a new stage:

Currently, CRÓNICAS DE HÉROES is exploring new terrain, planning on launching bi-national implementations along the U.S-Mexican border, striving to unite sister pair cities in these regions. [...] The present conflict in Mexican cities and the disparities between pair cities along the border is a subject that cannot be ignored. However, by only focusing and reporting on the negative happenings in those regions, the everyday perspective of citizens is dragged down and possible positive outcomes obstructed.

In the popular blog Vivir México, Ismael Flores informs [es] of other citizen media initiatives related to journalism and migrants:

En La Plaza —blog albergado dentro del sitio web del periódico Los Angeles Times—, varios periodistas contribuyen con artículos de análisis y opinión […] Este es el caso de Daniel Hernández, quien en su artículo Internal migration flows below the radar in Mexico […] explora la migración interna en nuestro país a partir de una visita que realiza a la ciudad de Querétaro. […] Mexodus, (es) un proyecto de colaboración periodística realizado entre universidades norteamericanas y mexicanas. En él, estudiantes de periodismo de ambos lados de la frontera se entregan a la labor de documentar la migración de familias enteras desde Ciudad Juárez hacia los Estados Unidos u otros estados más seguros de México —como Querétaro.

In La Plaza —a blog on the Los Angeles Times website—, various journalists contribute analytical and opinion based articles [...] Like Daniel Hernández, whose article Internal migration flows below the radar in Mexico [...] explores internal migration in our country from the perspective of the city of Querétaro. [...] Mexodus, (es) a collaborative journalistic project conducted among universities in North America and Mexico. Through this project, journalism students from both sides of the border have taken it upon themselves to document the migration of entire families from Ciudad Juárez to the United States or other safer states in México —like Querétaro.

Mariel García Montes from the blog Thought Experiment #45,730,944 reminds us of another way the public uses citizen media in the post Los “tweets” que arruinaron la fiesta [es] (The “tweets” that ruined the party):

El 15 y el 16 de septiembre de 2010, México celebró el aniversario número 200 del inicio de su guerra de independencia. [...] En la primaria, cuando eres un niño mexicano, aprendes que puedes estar orgulloso de México porque logró organizarse y luchar por la independencia de España. Es independiente. Tú eres independiente. ¡Come!¡Celebra! [...] Mientras lees esto, [...] Hay un pueblo en el que la gente revisa las redes sociales en línea para ver información sobre balaceras antes de salir al trabajo para saber qué caminos deben ser evitados. Para estas personas, 200 años no importan “sólo porque sí”. [...] Si miras de cerca las publicaciones en línea sobre esta celebración, puedes oír mil reflexiones que sucedían en cada minuto de la fiesta. ¿Deberíamos estar celebrando en un año en el que la guerra contra el narcotráfico ha alcanzado su punto más sangriento? ¿Es seguro celebrar, ahora que sabemos que el narco está dispuesto a atacar a los civiles como una respuesta dirigida al gobierno? [...] “No hay nada que celebrar”

On September 15 and 16 [2010], Mexico celebrated its 200th anniversary since the start the war for independence. [...] In elementary school, when you are a Mexican child, you learn to be proud of Mexico because of its organisation and execution of the war for independence from Spain. Mexico is independent. You are independent. Eat! Celebrate! [es] [...] While you read this, [...] There is a town where people check social networks to get information about shootouts before they lave for work, to know which routes should be avoided. For these people, 200 years are not important “just because”. [...] If you look closely at online publications about this celebration, you can hear a thousand reflections that follow every minute of the party. Should we be celebrating in a year during which the war against drug trafficking has reached its bloodiest point? Is it safe to celebrate, now that we know that the narco is prepared to attack civilians as a response to the government? [...] “There's nothing to celebrate”

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

Editor's note: Due to the article's length and to make it easier for you the reader, we have decided to publish this summary in several parts. Here is the first instalment, this is the second , and we will shortly publish the third.

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