Yet such measures remain elusive for reporters in places like the border city of Nuevo Laredo, where the Zetas cartel commands such terror that many people don’t utter its name out loud. In July, El Mañana newspaper announced that it would stop covering violent disputes among rival groups after a second grenade attack against its offices in two months. Residents of the town rely on Facebook to learn about shootouts, which are often referred to by the euphemism “parties.” This leaves journalists wondering how they can do their job properly again.

“Collaboration wouldn’t work, because we don’t cover news any more,” dryly noted Daniel Rosas, the online editor of El Mañana. “I like the idea, though.”

So has he given up completely?

“Not at all,” Rosas said. “The decision by Ginna Morelo of Colombia to break her silence really impressed me. We have to find a way to do it here.”

 

Judith Matloff is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is a veteran foreign correspondent, who teaches a course on conflict reporting at Columbia, and is the author of Fragments of a Forgotten War and Home Girl.