Observer Panel at SXSW Interactive: Tweeting the Drug War (Video)

Saturday's panel at SXSW interactive.
Saturday's panel at SXSW interactive. Jen Reel

The Texas Observer’s SXSW Interactive panel Life on the Line: Tweeting the Drug War highlighted the bravery of citizen reporters living in Tamaulipas—the most censored state in Mexico—to an international audience in Austin.

I joined KGBT-TV Interactive Manager Sergio Chapa, and UT-Brownsville Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, to discuss the media blackout in the state of Tamaulipas on the Texas-Mexico border where reporters have been killed and threatened and Mexican news outlets bombed or burned to the ground.

The most censored state in Mexico also happens to be the country’s most innovative when it comes to circumventing the media blackout using social media. The panel highlights the birth in 2010 of the city hashtag #reynosafollow to collect and disseminate information on gun battles, blockades and other important information. Since 2010, citizen reporters in Reynosa have pioneered methods for sharing information while protecting their online identities.

As if to prove our point, a massive gun battle raged in Reynosa a day after our SXSW panel. The Mexican media didn’t report on the battle, which went on for three hours. Later, the government reported two dead and one injured, but through #reynosafollow journalists and citizens were able to verify that as many as 50 people died that evening.

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Melissa del Bosque is a staff writer and a 2016-17 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.


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