Nowhere in the Americas is it more dangerous to practice journalism than in Mexico. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, twenty-one journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, seven of them in direct reprisal for their work. Those deaths, and the many other assaults that are a constant threat to Mexican journalists, mirror a rising trend of drug-related violence in the country.
Earlier this month, Columbia’s Journalism School hosted a conference, “Scared Silent: Mexican Journalists Under Attack by Drug Mafias,” to foster awareness of the threat Mexican journalists face in their work and to increase cooperation among those who are trying to aid them. Sponsored by the Knight Foundation, the conference brought many journalists to Columbia University from Mexico to provide a safe venue for discussion and to meet their U.S. counterparts.
Delivering the keynote address at that event was Alejandro Junco de la Vega, president of Grupo Reforma, which publishes seven daily papers in Mexico, among them outlets in Mexico’s three largest cities: Mexico City (Reforma), Guadalajara (Mural) and Monterrey (El Norte). The publishing conglomerate, and its president, have been instrumental factors in the evolution of journalism in Mexico. And the powerful speech Junco delivered highlighted not only the many challenges Mexico’s press faces, but also his abiding faith in the power of truth to effect change.
You can listen to audio of the speech here.