Journalists peddle a sort of drug-war pornography, salaciously and insatiably dwelling on the most lurid aspects of the trade: narcos, gangs, smugglers, pipelines, cells, mass graves, severed heads, torture chambers, dirty cops. Journalists promiscuously quote DEA agents, eagerly accompany undercover cops on ride-alongs, descend daringly into drug-infested neighborhoods, and intrepidly interview members of the drug trade.
One element he touches on is the tendency to over-attribute American drug problems to their foreign suppliers. We've heard a lot in recent months about Mexican gangs taking over American cities, but the evidence that Mexican kingpins are treating Chicago or New York as Sinaloa-North pretty limited. Instead, it seems like the Mexicans are consolidating their distribution networks through pre-existing American gangs, which isn't really so worrying, since American criminal groups have to get their cocaine from some foreign group. A lot of the blame for this and other exaggerations lies with DEA officials acting as propaganda officers. You could argue that reporters shouldn't be quoting the DEA, but it's hard to write a thorough story on drugs that excludes the opinions of the relevant government officials, even if their comments are often silly.
As far as drugs being such a popular topic for American reporters, I don't think this is all the fault of the correspondents; people are simply much more interested in the rise of a terrifying new drug gang than, say, the new role the Supreme Court is playing in Mexican politics, despite the fact that the latter could well be far more significant. Reporters are largely just playing to their audience. I also think it's unfair to blame individual reporters for choosing the Zetas (for example) as the subject of the story, because the fact is that they are newsworthy. The problem emerges when 95 out of 100 stories in 50 difference publications cover the drug trade. It's a reverse version of the tragedy of the commons.
In any event, it's quite a thought-provoking article, at least for those of us who follow Mexico.