How Come We Don’t Hear About The Candidates?

Because you don’t read the Mexican papers

Newspapers in Mexico are different than newspapers in the United States. Glance through any paper and you wonder how they stay in business. At least you wonder if you know that US papers make nearly all their money on advertising. Where are the ads in the Mexican papers?

They’re there now, as we’re in the middle of an election cycle. The papers are full of ads for candidates. And even now, many of those ads are in stealth mode: They are disguised as real articles. Broadcasting giants like Televisa and Azteca (similar to ABC, NBC, and CBS,) get around 10 percent of their ad revenue from the federal government. Even so-called respected Mexico City newspapers like Milenio, El Universal, and Excelsior, rely on the government to keep the lights on.

In the off season papers get support from the government too. Since he came to power in 2012, Mexican President Pena Nieto has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on government ads on TV, radio, and newspapers, all promoting what his government is doing “for the people”.

If your main client is the government, you’d best not bite the hand that feeds you, so investigative reporting, critical journalism, and exposes are nonexistent.

So is the press censored? Not exactly, they could be more critical of the government if they wanted to be, but once you take a free handout, it’s awfully hard to feed yourself. Media people here do not have a culture of hustling out and selling ads, like we need to do.

No, the Gringo Gazette doesn’t take ads from the government, avoiding that trap entirely because politicians don’t see our readership as being their voters. And maybe we aren’t. When former mayor Tony Agundez was asked why he didn’t do something about the way we kept calling him a crook, he said, “Aw nobody reads that paper anyway.”

And we were pushing it with that criticism of him, as foreign owned newspapers are not allowed to take sides in politics. Harsh? Well, the United States has that same rule, with Rupert Murdock, owner of Fox News, Wall St. Journal, and assorted other media required to become a US citizen before he could build his media empire.

 Last year the Supreme Court ruled in favor of laws to curb ad spending, suggesting government  ad spending be distributed in an unbiased way, but the law was pretty weak and the media wasn’t seen as anxious to change things anyway.