Monday, May 4, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: At your service

You’ll hear that papers such as Milenio and Excelsior have a pro-government slant, meaning they’ll present news stories in such a way that an uncritical reader will see the administration in a good light. Anti-government papers will do the same thing, with the slant pointing in the other direction.
    But Milenio and Excelsior (and other unabashedly pro-Peña Nieto dailies, such as The News) usually don’t bother with such subtleties as “slant.” They’ll simply present a government official’s speech or action as though they were doing the administration’s PR work. They’ll repeat the words unscrutinized, reflect the intended spirit faithfully, and use the headline to cheerlead.
    Milenio goes that route with its coverage today of a speech by the party leader of the president’s PRI, César Camacho. Its headline, without a hint of irony, comes off as braggadocio worthy of Buzz Lightyear: “Organized crime doesn’t frighten the PRI: Camacho.”
    Camacho was adding his voice to the government responses to the guerrilla warfare-style attacks by the state of Jalisco’s New Generation drug-trafficking organization, and the murder of a local PRI candidate in Guerrero.
    To be fair, El Universal uses a similar headline, reflecting the common practice of extracting the money quote for a head and lead, whether it’s the most newsworthy or not. But El U doesn’t splatter it all over the top of the front page. In fact, no other paper besides Milenio fronts Camacho’s comments. Some don’t even cover it.
    Camacho committed no sin in signaling that his party would stand firm after the weekend's game-changing developments. Milenio committed no sin in covering it. But the exaggerated placement and melodramatic tone reveal motives that don’t have much to do with news judgment.

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