Citizen Journalism: From Thomas in Boston to Twitter in Tamaulipas, A Case Study

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Maria Fernanda Machuca, Ruth Ann Ragland


As violence spiked in Mexico in clashes between drug trafficking organizations and law enforcement, news media were systematically silenced by cartels and cowed legitimate governments. Reliable information on street battles and their consequences ceased to flow through traditional channels to an anxious citizenry on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border 10 miles from McAllen, Texas. In Reynosa, Tamaulipas, a noted “plaza” territory contested by the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, ordinary citizens became journalists in 2010, reporting under the umbrella of the pioneer #ReynosaFollow hashtag on the Twitter social media platform. This gave frightened citizens a sense of anonymity and security in disseminating their real-time warnings to others, serving as the modern-day “underground presses” of the past signaling danger and injustice. Twitter and #ReynosaFollow have gained notoriety in mainstream media on the U.S. side of the border as useful and important news sources in territory that reporters no longer cover on a daily basis out of fear for their lives. This article chronicles how citizen journalism has developed in heavily censured states of Mexico where frequent gun battles and brutal murders still occur. Special emphasis is given to a case study of Twitter in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas.


Social media; citizen journalism; Tamaulipas

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