Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Today's Headlines: A look at how the Mexico City daily newspapers presented Monday's massive demonstrations on their front pages

Two DF dailies play yesterday’s mega-march for justice in the Iguala case as a local inconvenience. El Universal runs a fairly big vertical photo of the multitudes under a small headline reading: “DF suffers from marches.” A caption refers the reader to a story inside. Reforma runs two small photos under the fold with a common caption, headed by “Capital residents hit by 10 hours of marches.”
    Excelsior, a broadsheet like El Universal and Reforma (and thus with plenty of room to run a front-page march story, should it have preferred to do so) also chooses to photo-reefer their coverage, using a perfunctory, neutral headline that at least has the virtue of describing the event as something more than a traffic report: “March marks fourth month of Iguala case.”

The two tabloids stay on topic. La Jornada’a front-page treatment captures the event’s significance, and perhaps its spirit: “They’re counting on us forgetting, but we’re still here: parents of the 43.”  A mass rally like this one — peaceful with no major incidents, according to the reports — reminds everybody that the outrage over the disappearance of 43 teachers college students is nationwide, broadly shared and not a passing cause de jour. The protest’s image of almost daily violence and vandalism by the victims’ relatives and Guerrero teachers faded Monday in favor of a determined mass movement. Which is interesting, because it was those same relatives and teachers who lwere front and center at the rally.
    Milenio, the only paper to actually lead with the march, went for the news value, using this double-deck banner headline: “Parents: Any vote in Guerrero is a vote for the drug traffickers.” This belief — that the line between organized crime and the state apparatus has been erased —is fueling the idea of a nationwide organized boycott of the June 7 elections. Comments by march leaders, however, sounded a lot more like threats to forcibly prevent the elections from taking place — a different animal than voluntary mass abstention.
    Reforma later reported on its web site that Felipe de la Cruz, who has served as spokesperson for the parents of the Iguala victims, ruled out force. “No,” he said during an interview with Radio Fórmula, when asked if the activists planned to occupy polling places and physically prevent citizens from voting. “We’re counting on a raised consciousness on the part of the people of Guerrero.” We'll see about that.
Probably the most telling story of the day didn’t get much front-page play, although La Jornada found room for: “The good things the government does are too easily forgotten: Peña.” This from a speech by the president in his home State of Mexico in which he lauded yet again the passage and ongoing implementation of his reform package, including overhauls of energy, telecommunications and education policies, among others.
    The image that goes out, then, is of the nation’s leader not only ignoring the voices being raised on the streets of the capital, literally as he spoke, but pointedly dismissing them as misguided about the true priorities of the nation. I was about to insert “intentionally or not” in that last sentence but thought better of it. Either President Peña Nieto needs new media handlers or he's becoming positively Nixonian in his denial of what’s going on.

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