Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
After improvement in the earlier years of the Vincente Fox presidency, the situation of press freedom in Mexico remained somewhat stagnant in 2003. The Federal Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information passed in 2002, which was followed by an increase in access to government information, was a good first step, but its effect is still hampered by restrictions and the lack of any movement on the state and local levels. Many media outlets criticize the government openly, but journalists are occasionally sued for defamation. Libel is a criminal offense often punished with jail sentences. Reporters have been detained in Oaxaca and Chihuahua. The offense has even been charged in cases in which journalists had reported on government involvement in corruption and drug trafficking. In the state of Veracruz two journalists were attacked and another disappeared after reporting on connections between the state governor and regional drug cartels. Reporters from the Distrito Federal, Guerrero, and Yucatan states were ordered to appear in court to reveal sources. In Chihuahua the state government is said to have actively attempted to hinder reporting on sensitive cases. However, President Fox's decision to place crimes against journalists under federal jurisdiction has somewhat alleviated the culture of impunity that surrounded these crimes. Increased competition and the professionalization of the media have weakened the influence of government advertising, but concerns about loss of such revenue can still cause self-censorship. In various states government pressure on media content through the withholding of advertising funds has been reported. In Nayarit, the state government was accused of censoring a radio program and threatening to take away all advertising funding after opinions critical of the governor's administration were expressed on the program. The media generally operate in an open and transparent manner, and bribery of journalists continues to decline.