Brave Journalists Needed in Mexico

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Word-associations surrounding journalism these days often include "brave," "iron-willed," "feisty," and "undaunted." We need people of this caliber in journalism to go into the danger zones and report on what they experience and what other people are experiencing.

Might it be the case, though, that some places are just too dangerous to send journalists into? It seems many professionals in the United States are starting to feel that Mexico is too dangerous of a place to send reporters. There's no denying it's a dangerous place for all kinds of officials.

Journalists are not exempt from all the death recently in Mexico from drug cartel violence, but we need brave souls to cover the horrific events-- and they're covering severe violence elsewhere. Mexico makes the top ten in regard to the most violent posts for journalists, but the country is number nine.

So, what's happening to coverage in Mexico? According to Joseph J. Kolb, "The dwindling freedom of press in Mexico is compounded on two fronts by the allegations of widespread government corruption and ties to the cartels as well as the profound self-censorship imposed on the media through intimidation and murder."

I would assert that another major difference between journalism (and the presence of journalists) in Mexico and journalism in countries in the Middle East and in Northern Africa is the long-standing danger associated with Mexico and the drug war.

While revolutions are, by nature, breaking news that requires reporters to expose themselves to danger for what may be a limited time, the violence in Mexico has been going on for years and it's not getting much better.

If this information wasn't striking enough, another prevalent problem is conviction rates for people who murder journalists. Frankly, they're no good. Most of the time, no one is even brought to trial.

Another issue brought out is the slight number of breakthrough news stories coming out of Mexico-- the press can't help Mexico find justice and peace because the cartels are controlling the press. This is one reason that it's essential for United States journalists to go into the danger zone and bring stories home to the press-- drug cartels can't censor United States news stories.

Mike O'Connor, a veteran journalist who has spent a lot of time covering issues in Mexico, has some tips for other brave journalists. He says reporters must let someone in the states know where they are going to be and when, even if it's incredibly short notice.

O'Connor also warns journalists to be inconspicuous, ditch the United States license plate, vet the area you're going into, have a plan, and don't meet people at night in scary places. Obviously, a lot of it comes down to common sense.

If you consider yourself brave, and intelligent in the face of danger, a career covering stories in Mexico may be just the job for you. At least you know there's a demand.

Photo Courtesy of Kate Sheets, via, via


Amanda Hintgen March 9, 2011 at 12:02 PM  

I think this post is very interesting because I am minoring in Spanish and traveling to native spanish speaking countries is something that I would be able to do, but I never quite considered the danger in it.

T Israel March 9, 2011 at 12:14 PM  

It's really crazy to think that journalists are being killed for doing their jobs. Especially in 2011. I think it's really hard for us to understand some of the dangers that journalism poses as citizens of a country where our journalists aren't in much danger when working at home. But in other countries journalists are afforded no such luxuries, but still commit to their job in order to share information with the world. I'd like to think that all the journalists who died while reporting were doing something they love and doing a great service to this country by keeping us informed even in dangerous situations.

Kimberly Kurimski March 20, 2011 at 5:45 PM  

It's scary thinking how dangerous being a journalist can be. I think it's important that while you are in college to consider the dangers of your career choice. I never imagined how dangerous being a journalist could be until I heard of all the journalists being killed over seas.

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