Freedom of the press cowers under fire in México

EL PASO — The June 20 shooting deaths of a journalist, his wife, and their 21-year-old son in their home in Veracruz, México, underscore the assessment by a Washington human rights organization that México no longer has a free press. Freedom House dropped México’s ranking to a “partly free” country citing the innumerable threats to the country’s media independence in the current climate of drug-war violence. México was listed as “partly free” in large part because of the self-censorship, violent and deadly attacks on journalists, and a feeling of fear that has taken over the nation. The murders of Miguel Ángel López Velasco, 55, a columnist for the daily newspaper Notiver and his son Misael López, a photographer for Notiver are more atrocities in an unrelenting series of criminal actions against Mexican journalists. Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights estimates that in the past 10 years 83 Mexican journalists have been killed or have disappeared.

Journalism students say they prefer the glitter to the hard news

EL PASO – As journalism students graduate from colleges into a tough job market every year, more and more of them are straying from hard news and are instead pursuing careers covering sports and entertainment. According to Dr. Thomas Ruggiero an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso campus, “…reporting on breaking hard news has become lost.”

A scenario for the new bred of entertainment reporters could look like this: Microphones in hand and cameras on record, numerous reporters anxiously wait behind velvet ropes for the first celebrity to step on to the red carpet. The first interview of the night dressed in a long, tight-fitting gown and sparkling stilettos, poses for the flashing cameras, then makes her way toward the screaming requests as they point their microphones in her direction. They yell over each other’s voices to get the first interview after the star’s stint in rehab. One reporter with a single letter logo on his microphone lands the interview and immediately riddles the troubled movie star with question after question.

Read all about it – some last words for the printed word

EL PASO, Texas — Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honor the heroes, the visionaries, the martyrs, the teachers, the mentors and the smart-asses that have contributed to the legacy of Print Media here at the University of Texas at El Paso. In these times of great technological advancement, the souls that lie buried in the ink of the pages that challenged authority, informed the populous and bled perspective will never be forgotten. In our borderland, the border we face is not only that which divides our twin cities. We also approach an epochal border, moving into a digital age where the blog is the new editorial, craigslist is the new classified ads and RSS feeds are the new paperboys. On November 2, 2009, former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson announced the creation of a new degree at UTEP: Multimedia Journalism.

Premiados periodistas de Juárez — escriben sobre la violencia pese a los riesgos

EL PASO, Texas — Sandra Rodríguez reportera de investigación de El Diario de Juárez describe su profesión con la sabiduría que le otorgan los 20 años de esfuerzo y dedicación. “Un periodista es un profesional de la información cuya responsabilidad es reflejar con técnicas específicas los hechos que ocurren en cada comunidad, tratando siempre de acercarse lo más posible a lo que se puede considerar como la verdad de lo sucedido”. A través de su carrera, Rodríguez ha sido testigo de cómo el crimen organizado acapara la nota del día. Simplemente en el año 2010 Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua fue invadido con más de tres mil muertes, donde reporteros formaron parte de esa cifra. Día a día se ve en la redacción de los reporteros cómo la sangre envuelve los casquillos percutidos del victimario.

Sam Donaldson — The new media wields a double-edged sword

EL PASO, Texas — Innovations in technology —more specifically the Internet— have changed every aspect of media, transforming journalism into a swift double-edged digital sword, according to veteran ABC News reporter Sam Donaldson. Donaldson told students at his Alma Mater, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Tuesday that, “Everyone today thinks they are a journalist. Everyone shoots off their mouths on the Internet. To some extent this is a problem. I would prefer to listen to someone who is presenting stuff that is factual.”

The borderland native attended Texas Western College, now UTEP, and began his TV career in 1977 as a correspondent for ABC News.

La muerte del periodista Salazar: ¿accidente o asesinato?

Read this story in English

Dos primos mexicanos mueren a manos de la policía de Los Ángeles en un caso de identidad errónea. Dos agentes del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD por sus siglas en inglés) le dan una advertencia a un importante periodista referente a su cobertura del fusilamiento. Poco después, el mismo periodista se reúne con altos funcionarios de la U.S. Civil Rights Commission (Comisión sobre los Derechos Civiles de EE.UU.) para decirles que sospecha que está siendo perseguido por la policía. Saca todo de su billetera y despeja el escritorio de su oficina. Días más tarde, está muerto por un proyectil de gas lacrimógeno de 10 pulgadas de largo que disparó un asistente del alguacil de Los Ángeles.

Journalist Rubén Salazar’s Death — Accident or Assassination?

40 Years Later, Questions Persist

Lea esta historia en español

Two Mexican cousins are killed by Los Angeles police in a case of mistaken identity. A prominent journalist is cautioned by two LAPD officers about his coverage of the shootings. A short time later, the journalist meets with staffers of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and tells them he suspects he’s being followed by police. He cleans out his wallet and clears off his office desk. Days later, he is dead.

New frontline in war on freedom of speech

EL PASO, Texas — College campuses are and should be considered a utopia for students, faculty and staff to make their voices heard, whether espousing new ideas or protesting against the injustices of the world. Recent events at universities across the nation make it painfully clear this is no longer true. A significant case of censorship in college media recently occurred with the firing of an advisor at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s student newspaper, the CU Independent. After being fired from her position, Amy Herdy claimed the reason behind her dismissal was retaliation for her attempts to defend her students from hassles they were receiving from faculty after stories were published in the paper. Herdy also said that Paul Voakes, dean of UC-Boulder, requested that the advisor provide him with notification if the student newspaper planned to run anything that the university may deem to be controversial.

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.

Los sicarios toman la palabra en México

EL PASO, Texas — Emilio Gutiérrez quiere tener voz, sin embargo, sufre una afonía inusual. Un padecimiento que ni médicos, ni sociólogos, ni siquiatras pueden resolver. Y es que desde hace un tiempo para acá intentaron cortar sus cuerdas vocales (su libertad de expresión). Aunque en honor a la verdad, tuvo mejor suerte que muchos de sus colegas. A ellos, cerca de 30, no solo les truncaron las palabras, también los borraron de sobre la faz de la tierra.