Blogueros, no PeriodistasAug 26th, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Politics
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THE BORDER REPORT
About two weeks ago, a blog that professed to illuminate the drug wars in Mexico, but did little more than cut and paste news stories from Mexican news websites, made the big time with a write-up by The Associated Press.
Today, it’s under a new visage; BlogDelNarco was a blogspot account started in March of this year, a clearinghouse of Mexico drug cartel combat stories. Now it’s mundonarco.com. The site was initially hosted by Google as a blogspot account, so it’s possible that Google removed the site because of it’s graphic content. You’ll recall that a few months ago, they tried that nonsense with me, threatening to remove advertising if I didn’t remove graphic photos.
The AP profiled the blogger under a premise I considered misleading: “Narco-blogger beats Mexico drug war news blackout”
The story made the argument that as Mexican media retreated from covering the drug wars and the cartels ravaging the country, a lone, anonymous blogger had taken to publishing accounts reporters feared to write themselves.
The reality was a cut-and–paste clipjob that constantly lifts existing content without attribution or even a link to the original story. I found this and the resulting AP story offensive because it minimized the hard work of Mexican journalists who continue to do their jobs in spite of the threats against them.
In fact, here’s a blogger who accuses BlogdelNarco of plagiarism, saying the blogger steals not only his stories, but his photos, as well (thank you, ilegal, for pointing this one out).
As an American journalist and blogger, I’m under no illusion that I live in the same threatening climate as my Mexican colleagues. It’s simply not the same animal. An El Debate newspaper reporter whose family lives in Culiacán, whose kids go to the same schools as the children of the associates of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is at far greater risk than me or any other American journalist working in Mexico. In fact, I can only think of two American journalists, a daily newspaper reporter and a television reporter who wouldn’t appreciate their names being placed here, that work under the same threat as Mexican crime and political reporters. A blogger in Mexico, working remotely, never showing their face, is no Mexican crime reporter, I promise you.
Journalism in Mexico is under siege and has been for several years running. The country has consistently maintained the top tier of dangerous places to work as a reporter since 2005. Profiling a cheap hack and pretending they’re doing their own work is an insult to the country’s profession.
BlogDelNarco had some scoops in its short time – but so do narconews, lavidamafiosa, an excellent blog I used to check daily, El Ciudadano, a great Nogales, Sonora, blog, and Maggie’s Madness, usually murder photos and videos passed around the Internet by people with a heavy interest in these affairs.
One thing Blogdelnarco does do well is act as a portal for chats about narco-trafficking. This is an important dynamic, even in the age of anonymous commenters. But let’s not pretend the site is replacing original fact-gathering. That is an expensive endeavor that doesn’t happen by keyboard alone.
I’ve written to the owner of BlogdelNarco to ask him about this lifting of content but haven’t yet received a response. But whatever his answer will be, there is a tremendous difference between a journalist who creates original content and a blogger who cuts and pastes it and claims it for their own.
Now, bloggers and new media pundits will argue that information wants to be free. I’d argue that information doesn’t care. Ironically, The Associated Press recognizes the difference, or at least, it’s lawyers do. Earlier this year, The Associated Press filed complaints and threatened to sue a blogger who’d done much the same thing blogdelnarco is doing. Apparently, when an American blogger lifts AP’s stories, this is deemed “misappropriation.” When a Mexican blogger lifts everybody else’s, this is deemed giving the public “what they can’t get elsewhere.”
Footnote: At the time The AP’s story came out, I was also confused by the name:
There’s “blogdelnarco” the website that The AP profiled and there is “elblogdelnarco” a website that does much the same type of cut-and-paste lifting but has existed since 2007.