News agencies in Mexico in the digital era

12/01/2021

Although international news agencies have had a presence in Mexico since the second decade of the 20th century, the first precedent for this type of journalistic organization in the country is the American News Telegraph Agency (ANTA), founded in 1935 by Juan de Dios Bojórquez León (federal congressman in 1920, secretary of the Interior of the first cabinet of President Lázaro Cárdenas and, later, senator of the Republic) and Eduardo Villaseñor, as a corporation with financial support from the government.

This agency provided a news service to the national newspapers with a reduced staff of six editors and three telegraphers, without having correspondents inside the country or abroad. It was supported by Havas's wire services until 1940 and then by Reuters.

ANTA transmitted political and sports information via telegraph to 11 newspapers, one weekly newspaper, seven radio stations in Mexico City, as well as 50 newspapers and two radio stations in the states. It was also one of the first agencies to use radio as a means of disseminating information.

It wasn't until the 1960s that news agencies emerged in Mexico, since before that time they didn't exist in the strict sense of the term, and only operated improvised information distribution services.

In 1961, the Mexican Information Agency (Informex) was founded as a private company by Álvaro Gálvez y Fuentes, with the goal of unifying the efforts of different commercial radio and television news programs. However, in its first years, it sold advertising for those news programs and transmitted live reports from patrols that it sent to the scene of the events.

From the beginning, the structure of Informex was small and it had more technical personnel than writers; as years went by it developed the production of news for commercial radio and television and news service for several newspapers in the interior of the country. 

At that time, the agency had 20 reporters at the headquarters in Mexico City and 19 correspondents in the main cities of the country. About 25 years after its foundation, after suffering several administrative and ownership changes, this news agency disappeared.

Since the '60s, diverse news agencies emerged in Mexico; some local ones offered services to newspapers and state media; some supported by the infrastructure of national newspapers, and others directed their efforts to provide the media with specialized services in advertising, photography, and finance.

In 1968 the Mexican News Agency, Notimex, was founded as a corporation with majority state participation, which over the years became an international news agency with broad coverage in the country and the world, until it became a decentralized organization with technical and management autonomy.

Over the years, during the last decades of the 20th century, other agencies emerged in Mexico -both text services and photography or advertising-, several of them directly linked to a national media, particularly newspapers, and which to date work with their own network of correspondents distributed, above all, in the national territory.

These news agencies include:

SUN (Servicio Universal de Noticias), founded in 1987, is supported by the group of editors, publishers, reporters, and national and international correspondents of the newspapers El Universal and El Gráfico.

ASIC (Agencia de Servicios Integrales de Comunicación), created in 1988, having as its base of operation the newspaper La Jornada.

APRO (Agencia Proceso de Información) was founded in 1992 and works together with the weekly Proceso.

INFORED, was born in 1973, as the first news agency of the radio, as part of Radio Red.

INFOSEL (Agencia Financiera) is created in 1990, provides real-time financial information, and sells its services to individuals.

FINSAT (Agencia Financiera), founded in 1992, works together with the newspaper El Financiero, and provides specialized information on finance and business.

Agencia Fotográfica Imagen Latina and Agencia Fotográfica Cuartoscuro, emerged between 1984 and 1986.

In Mexico, during the last years, both the technological revolution and the implementation of innovative telecommunications systems have been practically imposed by the accelerated speed of changes in the world's technological development.

In less than a decade, the entry into the digital era implied for the media in the country, including the news agencies, to get involved in an unstoppable process of transformations ranging from innovative forms of communication (mobile devices, computers, electronic tablets) to a series of convergent platforms where the same can be produced video, processed photography or transmit voice and image data instantly.