A recent change to the Mexican Constitution gives authorities the power to prosecute crimes against free expression.
While on the surface this is a good thing — for too long the Mexican authorities have done little to prosecute those who have attacked and killed journalists in the country. But one of the potential down sides is that it could lead the Mexican government to determine who is a journalist.
We have seen this issue raised in a number of other countries.
Brazil, for example, under the dictatorship required a special degree from accredited universities to be called a journalist. That requirement remained in place under the subsequent democratic governments until just a few years ago when the Brazilian Supreme Court struck down the requirement as an infringement of free expression.
The Brazilian senate in 2009, however, returned to the issue and proposed legislation to once again require some sort of government approved credential.
Seeing such requirements in non-democratic countries is a given.
Fortunately, the Article 19 people included a call that any supporting legislation to the constitutional amendment must:
[P]rohibit compulsory membership in professional journalist associations or licensing systems for those wishing to practice the journalist profession. Instead, these amendments must provide a broad definition of journalists that should include citizen journalists, bloggers and other social communicators.
Now we just have to wait and see what happens.