March 6, 2013

Mexican blogger killed, blog shut down


In a disturbing development for the early days of a new administration in Mexico, journalist Jaime González Dominguez, editor of the website Ojinaga Noticias, was killed on Sunday in Oijinaga, a town on the Texas border near Ciudad Juárez. The news of his murder was posted on his site just minutes before the whole site was shut down by Dominguez’s colleague, who fears further violence. It’s not clear why he was killed, though early coverage on the case has noted that his camera was taken. The Committee to Protect Journalists has more on the context for this tragic event:

“Jaime González Dominguez is the first journalist to be murdered under the new administration of Enrique Peña Nieto,” Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy director, said from New York. “In order to ensure this administration does not repeat the deadly record of the previous one, Mexican authorities must fully investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice.”

Ojinaga Noticias covered community events, local sports, crime, and politics; none of its recent reports would clearly point to a motive for Gonzalez’s murder. Still, many journalists have told CPJ that they can be unaware that their articles have somehow crossed the crime cartels; sometimes, the mere inclusion of a name can spark a reprisal.

The official numbers of journalists killed and missing in Mexico has been complicated in recent years by the increasing presence of new-media-focused or more informal participants in news-gathering. In a 2011 article in Editors & Publishers by Joseph Kolb on the coverage of Mexican drug violence, Mike O’Connor, CPJ representative in Mexico, discussed the issue:

O’Connor concedes that CPJ adheres to strict guidelines when determining who is a journalist. He said the growing number of bloggers and unaffiliated freelance reporters who may or may not be on assignment for a specific media organization has presented problems in tabulating violence against journalists in Mexico.

Reports suggests that Dominguez, who was born in Ojinaga, moved back there from Chicago sometime in the last few years and started up the website recently. The distinctions between bloggers and journalists can blur quite sharply in countries where freedom of speech is not permitted (one such case is Yoani Sánchez’s Generation Y blog — the basis for her book, Havana Real) or where official media organs are compromised, beholden to certain interests, or nonexistent. And it is bloggers who have often stepped into the breach, whether to report what can’t be said elsewhere, or simply to provide a relatively apolitical community service. It’s a sad day when we hear that one of them has gone.



Sal Robinson is a former Melville House editor. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.