Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico

Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico

Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico

Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico


"This is the first book of its kind to portray the relationship between the media and the state, the changing behavior of the media in the 1990s, and the consequences of these changes for Mexico's democratic transformation. Lawson's work is based on original field research, extensive interviews with relevant actors, and on a survey research project on citizen attitudes toward the media and politics. The book is clearly written, lays out the major arguments, and provides an in-depth analysis. This timely and provocative work is essential reading for understanding a democratic Mexico in the 21st century."--Roderic Ai Camp, author of "Mexico's Mandarins: Crafting a Power Elite for the Twenty-First Century

"A dramatic transformation has recently taken place in Mexican politics culminating, for the first time, in the election of an opposition candidate and ending 70 years of one-party rule. Lawson's book is a richly detailed account of the role of the media in this transition. It raises extremely interesting questions about the media's influence on emerging democracies that should be of wide interest well beyond the community of Mexico specialists. It's the best account yet of this dramatic transformation."--Dan Hallin, author of "The "Uncensored War": The Media and Vietnam


Vicente Fox's dramatic victory in Mexico's July 2000 presidential elections definitively ended the world's longest reigning authoritarian regime. It also definitively ended any lingering debates in academic circles about where Mexico's protracted political transition might lead_debates that had persisted in some quarters despite the ruling party's loss of Congress in 1997. Mexico's transition to democracy was no longer in dispute. As one senior scholar jocularly remarked, Mexicanists would now have to throw out their old syllabi and borrow copies from their colleagues who studied Western Europe.

Before they do, let me suggest that they amend those syllabi a bit. I believe that neither the process of democratization in Mexico nor Mexican politics today can be understood without reference to the mass media. Those who wish to explain how Mexico became a democracy or how its political system currently functions need to understand the remarkable transformation of Mexico's mass media during the last twenty years.

I also suspect that the transformation of Mexico's media can shed light on politics in other countries around the world, especially those countries touched by the most recent wave of global democratization. in other words, the broader theoretical conclusions drawn from Mexico's experience should offer insights for analysts of democratization in countries like Spain, Brazil, Taiwan, and Russia_perhaps even for countries in nascent stages of political transition, like China and Iran.

If this study proves valuable, it is largely because of the insight and . . .

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