Does Violence Against Journalists Deter Detailed Reporting? Evidence From Mexico
[with Dr. Cassy Dorff and Dr. Sandra Ley]

Abstract: Over the last 12 years, Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist. We examine how this risk-environment influences the content and strategies of reporting at one of Mexico’s most well known national newspapers, Reforma. We argue that as the risk environment worsens, journalists use less specific language about armed actors to report on violent events. To test our claims, we turn to three novel sources of data: the first captures granular information about attacks against journalists, the second uses natural language processing to measure changes in reporting overtime; and the third incorporates interviews from journalists themselves. We show that as violence against journalists increases, news story specificity decreases. Importantly, our findings reveal the ways in which journalists develop protection strategies to ensure high quality reporting, even under risky conditions and highlight the critical link between risk and information environments in areas of protracted violence.

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