Jemez Pueblo bans newspaper from NM reservation

Jamez Pueblo, New Mexico (AP) November 2010

Jemez Pueblo Gov. Joshua Madalena has banned sales of a twice-monthly newspaper on the reservation over what he calls its sensationalized coverage of a killing.

In a letter last week to the Jemez Thunder, Madalena wrote that the article’s tone, “the level of gruesome detail and the incredibly sensationalized manner in which it was published was appalling.”

The newspaper from nearby Jemez Springs, with a circulation of about 1,000, will no longer be sold within reservation boundaries because its failure to exercise restraint shows it’s “out of touch with the community’s perspective,” Madalena wrote.

Leaders of Jemez Pueblo also banned trick-or-treating on Halloween this year, saying it’s not part of the traditional pueblo’s culture and it’s a safety concern because of the small community’s unlit roads.

The Jemez Thunder’s seven-paragraph story by Robert Borden on the killing largely quotes an FBI criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Borden, who has published the newspaper since 1995 with his wife, Kathleen Wiegner, said Jemez Pueblo council members didn’t like that he was “indelicate enough to actually run” graphic details from the complaint.

A 22-year-old Jemez Pueblo man, Lucas Toledo, faces a murder charge in the Sept. 29 death of a fellow tribal member, 21-year-old Matthew Panana. The criminal complaint alleges Toledo stabbed, slashed, beat, kicked and hit Panana, then disemboweled him.

Madalena told The Associated Press last week that the close-knit community did not need to know the gruesome details and the newspaper should have come to pueblo leaders before doing a story.

“I understand there is freedom of the press, but understanding the ties that we have, I do not want to exploit and reopen the wounds that we are trying to heal, especially in those two families,” Madalena said, referring to the families of the man killed and a second man charged.

He also said Borden should apologize to the families.

Borden said Jemez Pueblo’s visitor center and convenience store-gas station were the only two locations selling the newspaper on the pueblo.

He said the convenience store was the Jemez Thunder’s best outlet, but sales of the Nov. 1 edition seem to have picked up at other locations now that the newspaper is no longer sold on the pueblo.

Madalena said he believes he and Borden need to meet about whether the newspaper can be sold at the pueblo again.

“We need to have these discussions just to make sure the newspaper is respectful toward the pueblo and the other communities” in the Jemez area, he said.

The community of about 2,500 lies in an area of mesas and red rocks an hour’s drive northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city. The tribe still deeply embraces its traditions, including preserving the Towa language that’s unique to Jemez and that Madalena has said is spoken by more than 90 percent of its members.