Frank Smyth, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, discusses reporter safety during a panel Wednesday. Smyth said one of the most important ways journalists can protect themselves is by having insurance. Kathleen Reen of Internews moderated the discussion. (Chris Jessen/SHFWire)

New guide seeks to protect journalists in the field and online

WASHINGTON – Sometimes journalists need to act a little outside their job description to protect themselves. “Honestly, it feels a bit like pretending to be a spy,” said Danny O’Brien, the San Francisco-based Internet advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. To help journalists assess and prevent threats to themselves and sources, CPJ released its Journalist Security Guide on April 26. A panel discussed the guide Wednesday at an event hosted by CPJ and Internews, both non-profits that promote free press. The deaths of  New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid and The Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin earlier this year in Syria are examples of the risks journalists take.

Mexican journalists are an endangered species

SAN DIEGO — Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights received 608 complaints of injuries against journalists, 66 murders of reporters, and 12 disappearances of journalists, between 2000 and 2011. “Drug dealers aren’t concerned about killing one reporter or 20 or 30 because nothing is going to happen to them,” said Jorge Luis Aguirre, editor of, a news web site that covers drug trafficking and related topics. Aguirre says the attacks and threats against journalists pose a threat to a free press in México and to the democratic institutions in that country. Aguirre was recently granted political asylum in the U.S. based on claims he received death threats from the state government of Chihuahua. The journalist continues working as the editor of from his residence in El Paso, Texas.

El periodismo en México se ha convertido en oficio peligroso

SAN DIEGO — De acuerdo con la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos en México del año 2000 al 2011 se han recibido 608 quejas de agravio contra periodistas, 66 homicidios de comunicadores y 12 desapariciones. “Al narcotráfico no le interesa matar un periodista ó 20 ó 30 por que no va a pasar nada” afirmó Jorge Luis Aguirre, el editor de, una publicación en línea que cubre el narcotráfico y otros temas desde El Paso, Texas. Para Aguirre la democracia en México es un derecho donde cada vez es más difícil de encontrar ya que los medios han sido amenazados y callados por evitar la libertad de expresión y prensa en México. Aguirre obtuvo asilo político en Estados Unidos basado en sus declaraciones que había recibido una amenaza de muerte por parte del gobierno estatal de Chihuahua. Sigue trabajando como editor de desde su residencia en Texas.

In a city full of ghosts Juarez newspaper takes a surprising stand

EL PASO, Texas — A major border news daily published a jaw-dropping front page editorial this week that seems to call on drug cartels, or whichever entities are in control of crime-plagued Ciudad Juarez, to tell them what the newspaper should publish to prevent further attacks against its staff. The September 18 editorial in El Diario de Juarez, prompted by the recent shooting death the paper’s 21-year-old photographer Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco outside a shopping mall, said, in part: “Tell us what you want from us, what you want us to publish or not publish, so we will know what to do?”

In typical knee-jerk fashion, quite a few journalists were quick to condemn the feisty border newspaper for scrapping its journalistic responsibility and caving in to the drug lords, a charge the newspaper denies. It troubles me that the major media, on both sides of the Rio Grande, did not take the time to carefully analyze the fine points of the editorial, but instead focused on the attention grabbing and alarm-raising message to “drug cartels.”

It seems that most missed the point of the long and nuanced editorial statement. Narcos, like ghosts, are unlikely to visit newsrooms or call with an offer to negotiate a public truce. They use subtle tactics instead to get what they want, like threatening to kidnap a Zacatecas editor if she didn’t publish a story about a young man who was killed by the army.