Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Less You Know

We're reprinting in full this latest (and last) post from Cox newspapers' Man in Mexico, Jeremy Schwartz, coming as it does at a time when demand for intelligent coverage of Mexico is rising and supply, sadly, continues to dwindle:

Goodnight and good luck from Uncovering Mexico

By Jeremy Schwartz | Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 11:14 AM

It’s with sadness that I have to report the end of the Uncovering Mexico blog. As some of you may have read, Cox Newspapers is shuttering its Washington D.C. bureau as well as its foreign operations. That means bureaus in Beijing, London, Jerusalem, the Caribbean and Mexico City are closing. The Mexico City bureau actually closed on March 15.

It’s been an amazing three years in Mexico, and I’m grateful for all our readers, a small, but loyal tribe. Since beginning at the end of 2006 we’ve tallied 299 entries and more than 650 comments. Be on the lookout for the grand finale, the blowout 300th blog post in coming days.

It’s no revelation that struggling news organizations have been cutting back coverage, nowhere more so than in their foreign operations. Since I arrived in Mexico in 2005, I’ve seen the foreign press corps dwindle. One longtime correspondent remarked that any gathering of reporters quickly assumes the air of a wake. I’ve seen the bureau closures of the San Antonio Express-News, Newsday and the San Diego Union-Tribune, seen the McClatchy chain’s position remain unfilled, and a significant reduction in the size of the Dallas Morning News bureau. Great journalists remain in Mexico, doing amazing work. But too many are nervous about their jobs.

So what will the future look like? If the trend continues, regional papers will find themselves without a presence in places like Mexico. Newswires like AP and Bloomberg, along with national papers like the Washington Post and New York Times, will likely become the main sources for foreign news. Such operations do great job of covering breaking events and finding interesting features. But what will go missing are those local connections to Mexico, stories that illuminate immigrant communities and explore the connections between American cities and their vast neighbor to the south.

For those of you interested in Mexico, there are reasons for hope. More than ever, papers are striving to give readers what they want, and that represents a potential opportunity. As newspapers across the country reinvent themselves, let them know what kind of coverage you want to see. Engage with newspapers. Be proactive, and interactive. Continue to seek out news about this fascinating country, which is far too vast and complex to be pigeonholed.

As for me, I’ll be moving to Austin where I’ll be writing for the Statesman on local issues. Keep in touch and drop a line. And thanks again for keeping this blog going as long as it has. Hasta la proxima.


Joy said...

Sigh. Jeremy, my husband and I go way back, to the days of reporting from Corpus Christi, TX. Before lay-offs and cutbacks were rampant in news coverage. It is depressing, and lately I've been thinking *all* journalists need to hold a "week without news" so the public might wake up and be willing to pay the proper price to be informed.

Burro Hall said...

It's sad. Of course, if not for lay-offs and cutbacks, I wouldn't be in Mexico, so, y'know, two cheers for the robber barons.

Still, how long before El Blog de Joy is the only source of English language news out of Mexico City?