Journalism in Mexico

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Journalism in Mexico

The first printing press in the Americas began to operate in Mexico in 1539, but the first newspaper, the Gaceta de México, wasn't published until 1722. For half a year it circulated monthly with business and society news. In 1805 the Diario de México became the first daily paper in New Spain.

In December 1810, Miguel Hidalgo produced El Despertador Americano in Guadalajara and published nine issues. Soon, despite the censorship of the viceregal government, newspapers began to appear, such as El Ilustrador Nacional (Sultepec, state of México, 1812), the Gazeta del Gobierno Americano (Guanajuato, 1812), and José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi's El Pensador Mexicano (1812).

When the country gained its independence in 1821, literary creation and political factions produced newspapers that were substantial, although they almost always spoke in euphemisms. Some of the first were El Ensayo Literario (Puebla, 1838), El Ateneo Mexicano (1840), and El Liceo Mexicano (1844). Those that enjoyed wide circulation were La Estrella Polar de los Amigos Deseosos de la Ilustración (Guadalajara, 1822), La Concordia Yucateca (1829), La Aurora de la Libertad (1831), and El Federalista (1831).

Around the middle of the century, the main newspapers were conservative (such as La Espada de D. Simplicio, 1855) or liberal (such as El Republicano, 1855, and El Siglo XIX, which had four phases between 1841 and 1896). There was ample freedom of criticism. Newspapers supporting workers and socialists appeared later. Some, along with publications such as journalist Filomeno Mata's El Diario del Hogar, constituted Porfirio Díaz's more significant opposition. The Flores Magón brothers' El Hijo del Ahuizote and later their Regeneración (1900–1916) helped to ignite the revolution.

By the end of the war, several newspaper companies had been established. El Dictamen, published in Veracruz since 1898, is the oldest daily in the country. El Universal (1916) is the dean of the Mexico City press. During the first half of the twentieth century, the press, which was conservative, clashed with governments such as that of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940). It was evident that the hostility was coming to an end when, on June 7, 1951, president Miguel Alemán established Freedom of the Press Day at a reception given for him by José García Valseca, who was to become owner of thirty-seven daily newspapers.

Self-censorship prevailed in most publications. The government was sponsor to almost all of them. In 1976, the board of directors of Excelsior (founded in 1917) was dissolved when its members proposed a more autonomous editorial line. Several of them founded Proceso, which has been the nation's most important political weekly since 1976. Others founded Unomásuno in 1977, from which a group of journalists later split off to form La Jornada in 1984.

A more independent press has developed with the liberalization of Mexican politics. There are specialized dailies such as El Financiero (1980) and El Economista (1988) and newspapers backed by ample business resources, such as Reforma (1993) and Excelsior (re-founded in 2006). Others, such as La Crónica (1996) and Milenio (2000), have distinguished themselves among the thirty-five dailies appearing in Mexico City. By the end of the twentieth century, some three hundred dailies were in circulation throughout the country, but the majority were printing only a few thousand copies each.

See alsoExcélsior (Mexico City); Journalism.


Cano Andaluz, Aurora, ed. Las publicaciones periódicas y la historia de México. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, 1995.

Lawson, Chapell H. Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Ruiz Castañeda, María del Carmen. La prensa: Pasado y presente de México. México: UNAM, 1987.

Trejo Delarbre, Raúl. Volver a los medios: De la crítica, a la ética. México, D.F.: Cal y Arena, 1997.

                                      Raul Trejo Delarbre

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Journalism in Mexico

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