Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
What’s the view from Europe on where news is headed? Check out these videos from Newsgeist
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Feb. 11, 2013, 1:13 p.m.
Marcela Turati in Aida Refugee Camp

“In the struggle against silence, human life is at stake”: Mexican journalist Marcela Turati on reporting during the drug war

The winner of the Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism talks about how the perils faced by Mexican journalists caught between the government and the narcos.

Marcela Turati in Aida Refugee Camp

Since 1964, the Nieman Fellows have awarded the Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. Lyons was a member of the first class of Nieman Fellows in 1937 and was the curator of the Nieman Foundation from 1938 to 1964. This year’s class chose to award the Lyons to Mexican journalist Marcela Turati of the magazine Proceso.

for her coverage of the drug war and her role in protecting and training members of the media. She is a standard-bearer for the journalists who have risked their lives to document the devastating wave of violence in Mexico […] Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with more than four dozen killed or gone missing in the past six years. Turati has long sought to give voice to those who lack political power and access to the media. In 2007, she and her colleagues co-founded Periodistas de a Pie, a journalism network created to support reporters covering issues such as poverty, civic participation and human rights.

Turati came to Cambridge Thursday to accept the award and talk about the dispiriting conditions faced by journalists covering drug violence in Mexico.

Many people are no longer with us. While I can come here and talk to you, many reporters covering similar stories have not survived or cannot talk about it. In this black period, 80 colleagues are dead or disappeared. Many more left the profession, their house, the country.

Among of the dead is Regina Martínez, who was a brave correspondent for Proceso magazine, the magazine that I work for. She worked in Veracruz, one of the states that was soon silenced by drug traffickers in complicity with the politicians. Forced silence is generally a consequence of this formula: army or cartels that control the information, corrupt or weak governments that surrender to them, and a judicial system that doesn’t work.

We soon realized that something was rotten in the country when the reporters who were supposed to file the news became themselves the news; when saying that (after Iraq), Mexico was the most dangerous place for journalists in the world became commonplace, and nobody cared.

Those deaths were registered in small news stories, like these, that I collected from the newspapers: The journalist was kidnapped in the morning by five unknown men just in front of the municipal police department…His eight year-old daughter watched the execution. He was killed when he was taking her to school…Three months before his murder, his house had been shot and his car burned…He was taken by eight masked men dressed in black, from his home, in front of his wife and daughters…By the corpse a message was found: “This happened to me for writing what I shouldn’t. Be careful with your text when you write the news.”

Here’s video of her engrossing speech:

You can also read a transcript of her remarks here, and you’ll find further video from the evening (including an introduction and Q&A) here.

As an aside — since the Lyons Award honors both its recipient and its namesake — here’s rarely seen video of Louis Lyons himself from the late 1950s, when he hosted a TV show called The Press and the People on public television pioneer WGBH. Aside from being a remarkable window into how early television experimented with the visual representation of an interview show, it’s a sign of how many of the issues we talk today about are ageless. (If the video won’t play for you, try here. Lots more here.)

Photo of Turati in the Aida refugee camp in Palestine by Ricardo Rodriguez.

POSTED     Feb. 11, 2013, 1:13 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
What’s the view from Europe on where news is headed? Check out these videos from Newsgeist
From digital security to metrics, algorithms to wearables, here’s some of what a bunch of journalists and technologists were thinking about at their recent Helsinki conference.
Here are the best links, resources, and roundups from SRCCON, the conference for journalism code
From ad viewability and machine learning to journalist burnout and remote work, the conference in Minneapolis brought together some of the smartest news nerds to talk shop.
“Learning to write again”: A Duke team tests a new way of reporting on New York City government
This summer, a team of students is testing whether a database-driven, structured journalism model can work well on topics like urban policing and Uber.
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
762Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
CNN
The Daily Beast
MSNBC
PBS NewsHour
Kickstarter
The Blaze
Facebook
Kaiser Health News
Mozilla
Talking Points Memo
Crosscut
St. Louis Globe-Democrat