There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the world. One can, with some finger motions, gain a plethora of information at a whim. At the same time, it has allowed anybody to post whatever one wishes online, unedited and uncensored. When this power of unfettered free speech is wielded in an informative, balanced manner, the public rewards it with tremendous credibility. At the same time, everyone senses that traditional news channels and media outlets are biased to their own respective agendas. So is it really “news”?
Case in point: recently, the Internet has had an interesting impact on the news in Mexico, particularly as it relates to the drug war in this country. Many online users are now beginning to rely on blogs and certain websites as sources of information over news press releases. Since blogs are generally uncensored, a reader can potentially receive a lot more out of a blog article on a topic than a press release can. In fact, many news outlets today actually rely on certain blogs and social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter, for sources of information.
For example, the Miami Herald recently reported that in Mexico, a blog called “Narco Blog” (for Narcotics), or “El Blog del Narco” has unashamedly posted uncensored news about the happenings of drug-crazed Mexico. In Mexico, where news reporters have been threatened with their lives to not post certain material, Narco Blog, operated by an anonymous computer security student who teams up with another anonymous, twenty-something blogger, have posted uncensored content on the site. Since the content has been presented in a balanced manner, the blog has been deemed as credible and therefore the go-to-source for Mexicans to get the “whole story.” The blog’s domain name is registered with a U.S. company and his hosting is provided by Google’s Blogger, rather than on a personalized web server. Interestingly, the unbiased content presented in the blog suggests that all sides are using the blog — drug gangs to project their power, law enforcement to show that it too can play rough, and the public to learn about incidents that the mainstream media are forced to ignore or play down. In short, blogging has allowed one to post uncensored content, pictures and videos that press releases were unable to produce.
These blog postings have included:
- The prison warden affair. At the end of the video the police officer is shot to death.
- A full video of a man being beheaded, confessing to having worked for a certain drug lord. Media reports, on the other hand, only stated that police found a headless body.
- Links to Facebook pages of alleged drug dealers and their children, weapons, cars and posh parties.
- Pictures of Mexican pop-music stars at an alleged drug dealer’s teenage daughter’s birthday party in the border state of Coahuila, across from Texas.
The bottom line is that the Blog del Narco is beating the Mexican drug war news blackout. With blogs coming out with information that’s faster and more detailed there is no question that the term “News” is being re-defined.