Since I wrote about the drug war in Mexico last year (see here and here), I’ve discovered more independent journalists who devote their time to covering drug war-related events in Mexico. One of these journalists is K. Mennem, creator of the Hell On Earth blog. His blog provides analysis of headlines from the drug war plus delves into aspects of the drug war’s cartel culture not covered by other sites, such as his story about Nuevo Laredo’s Boy’s Town.
I swapped a few e-mails with Mennem to learn more about his work and blog. Below is a brief exchange we had about his work and blog.
Let’s talk about your journalism background. How long have you worked as a journalist? Where have you been published/are published? Why did you decide to become a journalist?
I do not come from a formal journalism background. My college degree is in business, but I traveled to Mexico frequently with international study groups during college. I started my blog in 2009. The original plan was to write about various global events that are not covered by main stream media. My whole intent was to help bring to light the horrible things that occur daily in our world, yet these are often ignored by the public. I write routinely for the San Diego Reader, my blog of course, and guest spots on various blogs and websites from time to time. I have recently had an increase of interest from universities and politicians on my work. Doing work for these type of groups is currently in the making. I decided to start into journalism after I finally realized how much time I was spending on reading, researching, traveling, and talking to people about these issues. In most ways it had already engulfed my life before I even realized it. I am also an insurance agent. I sell local and international policies to businesses and private customers. I am the marketing director and international sales agent for an agency my brother owns. The flexibility with this job has allowed me to make both of my careers work.
Tell me about Hell On Earth blog. Where/how did you come up with the title? What is your interest in following/investigating narcotrafficking/drug war in Mexico?
The title for my blog came from the original concept of the site. Writing about the “Hell on Earth” that is unknown to many. As the Mexican cartel wars raged on, my blog eventually became focused on issues there. The drug war across the Americas has always been my focal point, but I decided to completely focus on it for the time being. I have always had strong ties to Mexico. I still travel to Mexico when possible. My passion for the country and its people compelled me to write about events often ignored in the United States. The ugly truth is that the U.S. is causing this chain reaction of events by its huge appetite for narcotics. My interest into following these events were naturally drawn in because of my interest in Mexico. I have friends on both sides of the law, friends on both sides of the border, and have spent considerable time along the border. These things have helped me develop into what I do.
How can mainstream media outlets improve their coverage of the drug war in Mexico?
Mainstream media needs to elaborate more on events happening, and not just give short summaries. Almost everything happening is directly tied to the United States, but you can not tell that by reading one paragraph a week in the newspaper. National news stations pick up on stories whenever it is the hot thing to do, but most often it is only when a U.S. citizen is a victim of a crime in Mexico or on the border.