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How Latino Youth Stay Informed

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Seven out of ten young Mexicans are getting their news by accessing links in their Facebook or Twitter accounts, according to the Mexican Internet Association. I am part of that statistic.

Most of my friends--all under 35 years old--are tired of what we call digested news. We want more variety, and more real voices involved in the stories. When I search the Internet for the latest news, I get many links to traditional media. But few of the links add more information to the initial story, and there is often no analysis or criticism.

Mexican news media became more independent in the mid 1990s as the country was getting away from a one party system that held a tight control of the media. But today, there remains a lingering feeling among young news consumers that the traditional media is still tinged by business and political interests. Many of our news outlets do not print "All the News that is Fit to Print." This is why traditional radio, television and newspapers, are no longer among the news sites preferred by young people.

The information news hole in Mexico has been filled by independent bloggers that report on many stories not covered by the traditional media.

These citizen reporters keep their followers informed about what they think are the most important and crucial political and social news. Many of the bloggers are critical of the mainstream media and the political system. But because they are young, their analysis is more closely aligned and followed by their young audience. They tend to use humor and sarcasm to dig deeper into the stories.

The quick positioning of popular blogs and social media journalists is thanks to the proliferation of smartphones among young people. The number of users who stay connect to Internet through their smartphones doubled in Mexico in the last two years. Today, 4 out of every 10 internet users visit Facebook or Twitter from one of these gadgets, according to Mexico´s Internet Association.

Here are some of the most popular throughout Mexico.

• El5antuario.org
This site is temporarily suspended, because of the disappearance of @el5anto, its news anchor three weeks ago. This blog was famous because @el5anto wore a mask similar to those worn in Mexican wrestling, called Lucha Libre. He was a critical analyst of the recent presidential elections and opposed the newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, a former party that ruled unabated for 70 years until the year 2000. He had over 50 thousand followers.

A few weeks ago, when hysteria over armed attacks in Neza, a working class neighborhood located in the outskirts of Mexico City, the local news media ignored the reports, but @el5antuario reported on all the events via Twitter. In mid-September it was reported he had disappeared. The disappearance from the airwaves has been mired in mystery.

• El Blog del Narco.
Increasing organized crime violence in various regions of Mexico has contributed to increasing self-censorship among the traditional news media. Some blogs and Twitter users are filling in that void. El Blog del Narco is characterized for reporting on drug related murders and other activities around the country. The blog relies on stories, videos and photographs provided by unidentified citizens journalists, who could be normal citizens, or participants in the drug war. Their entries can be bloody and violent, as they don´t edit the contents. El Blog del Narco is closely followed by young readers.

• Julio Aliaga
A journalist who lives in the United Sates and prepares a daily news presentation on events in the US has quickly obtained a great following in YouTube. His news program is delivered in only 3 minutes.

Sopitas
It focuses on issues and interests for young readers, interprets sports, music, Internet and politics and tailors those news items to Mexican young readers. In one of their latest news stories, "What the %$&# is the Labor Reform Law?", they explained how a legislative project making its way in the Mexican Congress will impact young workers.

Its Twitter account has 48 thousand followers.

• Anonymous Mexico.
This collective protest group has become a reference among young people who believe in their causes. Their Twitter account @Anonymous_Mex1 has close to 24 thousand followers, who actively participate as informants.

• @chumeltorres
With more than 50 thousand followers, this Twitter user is a "twitterstar". His tweets go from satirical political criticisms, to funny remarks about personal relations. He also writes for a political website and remains impartial in political commentaries, an added plus in Mexico, where even traditional media expresses its biases in their reporting. He is a smart satirist.

Blogs and twitter users, as those mentioned above, will keep increasing as long as credibility in traditional media is not restored. It seems that for Mexican youth the quality of the information goes beyond the brand of any big media.

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