Small Wars Journal

Attacks on Journalists and "New Media" in Mexico's Drug War

Sat, 04/09/2011 - 7:18am

Attacks on Journalists and "New Media" in Mexico's Drug War:


A Power and Counter Power Assessment

by John P. Sullivan

Download the Full Article: Attacks on Journalists and "New Media" in Mexico's Drug War

This paper examines the impact of attacks on journalists on media reportage within Mexico's drug wars, known as "la Inseguridad" in Mexico. It examines two concepts in communication theory (agenda-setting theory and "mind framing" for power and counter-power) to frame the impact of drug cartel information operations (info ops). Specifically, It examines cartel attacks on media outlets, and kidnappings and assassinations of journalists by narco-cartels to gauge the potential impact of the attacks in terms of censorship, cartel co-option of reportage, and the use of new media (horizontal means of mass self-communication).

Download the Full Article: Attacks on Journalists and "New Media" in Mexico's Drug War

John P. Sullivan is a career police officer. He currently serves as a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism (CAST). He is co-editor of Countering Terrorism and WMD: Creating a Global Counter-Terrorism Network (Routledge, 2006) and Global Biosecurity: Threats and Responses (Routledge, 2010). His current research focus is the impact of transnational organized crime on sovereignty in Mexico and elsewhere.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He is an honorably retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism, and intelligence. He is currently an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of intelligence fusion centers. He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” He can be reached at


Dr. Robert J. Bunker (not verified)

Mon, 04/11/2011 - 4:13pm

The timing is interesting regarding this posting at BorderlandBeat vis-a-vis John's important article.…
Survival Courses For Journalists Covering Drug Wars
Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Borderland Beat Reporter Buggs
By Deborah Bonello
Fox News Latino

Raymundo Arellano wears a pair of dog tags around his neck. His name, blood type and next of kin have been indented on the silver plates.

"My greatest fear is that Ill be killed and theyll bury me somewhere and no one will recognize my remains," he says.

Arellano is a Mexican television reporter trying to do his job in a country wracked by drug-related violence. More than 30 journalists have been killed or disappeared since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists; ten of them in the last year alone.....