Working The Night Shift For Mexico City’s Bloody Crime Tabloids

Nota Roja - 1

David Alvarado works the night shift for la nota roja (crime tabloids) in Mexico City.


A white sheet glimmers under a fluorescent street lamp. David Alvarado tiptoes around police tape to get another angle.

Click. Click.

A crumpled figure is hidden under the sheet. A corner soaks up blood. Just a wrinkled, petite, brown hand hints at the identity of the deceased.

Staring into the face of death is pretty humdrum for Alvarado after three decades reporting in Mexico City.

“I’ve seen everything over the years,” he says. “The crime has to be really serious to surprise me.”

Alvarado, 60, works for a genre known in Mexico as la nota roja, meaning “red news,” the country’s crime-blotter tabloids. In much of the country, serious journalists deride the genre as sensationalist. But in the capital and surrounding areas, the papers are taking on unique importance. As organized crime becomes more widespread, splintered and confusing, some researchers say the constant stream of crime stories they produce is a critical source for understanding Mexico’s violence as it hits all-time highs.


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