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TBI, L.A. Times Address Violence in Mexico

Monday, March 2, 2009

The main objectives of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies are “to promote border-related scholarship, activities and community at the University of San Diego, and to promote an active role for the University in the cross-border community.”

This past year the TBI has focused more on violence in Mexico, with drug wars and murders being pushed to the top of the news from local newspapers and television stations to national media outlets. TBI Director David Shirk has been called upon routinely to provide some perspective on what’s happening in the country next door.

More recently, TBI data that provides an appalling view of drug-related violence in Mexico has become a vital part of the Los Angeles Times’ special series “Mexico Under Siege, The drug war at our doorstep.” According to that data, collected from Agencia Reforma news agency, the estimated number of people who have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since the beginning of 2007 is 7,337.

tbi2Members of the Times’ editorial team covering the issue recently joined forces with the TBI and Mexican officials for a panel discussion, also called “Mexico Under Siege.” Panelists included Shirk, Times reporter Rich Marosi, Times photographer Don Bartletti and former San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Anna Cearley. Each panelist provided a unique picture of their take on the issue, with journalists detailing what they have seen and experienced while gathering the news. There were also former Mexican political officials to shed some light on the role of that government in the war on drugs.

Previously, the issue of border violence was discussed during the TBI’s annual Media Roundtable. Reporters addressed the notion that their primary coverage of Mexico has focused on drugs and violence. They also discussed the perception by some that their coverage was hurting tourism in the border area.

“The fact of the matter of is, as some people discussed, newsrooms are shrinking and border reporters have fewer resources and basically less time and space to cover the broad plethora of issues that are out there on the border, and so it comes down to what are the most urgent, striking and pressing issues,” Shirk said. “And for the last year or two, drug violence in Mexico has led because it is by far the most urgent issue that policy makers are confronting — not the most important necessarily, but it’s certainly the most urgent.”

— Denise T. Ward

For more information on TBI events and programs, go to You can view the L.A. Times “Mexico Under Siege” special section at

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