In the February 2014 edition of Photo District News, Pulitzer Center grantee photojournalist Louie Palu tells how he came to document the drug war raging along the U.S.-Mexico border after covering other wars around the globe. He started with research and by asking questions: if journalists were covering the drug war at all, how were they covering it, what was missing from that coverage and why were conflicts in other regions covered more extensively?
His work "became something more than just understanding the violence. It was about understanding how the violence happened and what were the mitigating factors that let that violence happen," Palu told PDN's Dzana Tsomondo. He said that what was going on in Mexico is "much bigger than what people really understand," for example with the government not in control of large portions of territory.
"With this work, what came to mind most was how the war was being documented, talked about and represented with pictures in the media," Palu said in the PDN interview. "It became a project about questioning what we see, what we don't see and who are the gatekeepers that control this."
As a result of his research and reporting, Palu decided to produce a 15x12 inch "conceptual newspaper," Mira Mexico. Palu will distribute Mira Mexico at school events, museums and galleries to increase in-depth exploration of the drug war. It also allows Palu to decide what would be included, and to avoid the kind of cropping and editing of his work that he had experienced as a conflict photographer in Afghanistan.
Read more of Palu's PDN interview. To explore Palu's photos featured in Mira Mexico and read more about his coverage of the Mexican drug war, check out his Pulitzer Center project, Drawing the Line: The U.S.-Mexico Border.