Protection for journalists everywhere

It is important to report everyday activities. The information we read and are able to share is made by people—journalists, to be specific. As a communication major and a Threefold Advocate staff member, information is vital to me. I have to admit that there are topics I do not like to read, but I try to learn about them anyway because they are necessary.

Reading and analyzing what is happening—not only in my community, but also in the entire world—is something that gives meaning to this profession. Even though I have a public relations emphasis, I feel passionate about reporting. However, sometimes it is hard not to be discouraged by how underrated journalism is.

I am lucky to be inspired by a professor who always encourages communication students to tell the truth and “give voice to the voiceless.” Now that my time in the United States is ending, I have been thinking about working as a journalist in Mexico. However, the experience I had was in a college newspaper in the U.S., and the reality that is waiting for me and for those who are planning on entering the profession, is the danger of being kidnapped, tortured and even killed.

Something that upsets me about Mexico is that it does not protect its journalists. I admire the U.S. Constitution because it protects the freedom of speech, and therefore, it protects those who practice it. It is true that journalists need to double-check information before publishing it, but at least they are free to report and investigate. Sadly, in Mexico, journalists do not have the same privilege.

In only three months, four journalists have been killed, according to Reporters Without Borders. The government is trying to stop the violence against journalists, but it has not succeeded.

On April 23, 2012, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic approved La Ley para la Proteccion de Personas Defensoras de los Derechos Humanos y Periodistas. This law seeks to protect the people who defend and promote human rights as well as the freedom of speech. Unfortunately, this law is useless to journalists because they are still in danger.

Article 19, an independent organization that promotes and protects the freedom of speech around the world, reported that alleged aggressors are mainly public servants, organized crime, teamsters/social groups, party force/candidates/parties, private institutions and the rest is unknown. The impunity towards the aggressors and the lack of cooperation of the same government has made this profession harder.

I remember when I was doing my internship in a newspaper back home, I heard that a journalist was killed and beheaded. It seems that killing the journalist was not enough for the assassins, so they left his head in front of the newspaper offices.

I recognize that some journalists are not the best. Some are killed because they are headed down the wrong path, but others are just doing their job. Journalists have an innate passion for the truth and they love to share it. I have learned that this profession is unique in nature and I admire the people who, despite the danger of the job, are willing to risk their lives and seek the truth.

It is hard to admit it, but Mexico is still under a dictatorship disguised as a democracy. We cannot talk because we can be killed… We see the suffering but we decide to ignore it. Fear is
everywhere and it paralyzes us.Sometimes I just sit and wonder if it is worth risking our lives to tell the truth or even if it is worth our being a journalists.

Dear readers…is it worth it?

Velazquez is a senior majoring in communication. She can be reached at VelazquezM@jbu.edu.