Okay, these are two pretty unrelated stories, except that they both address what journalists who report on tough stuff have to deal with.
First, some good news:
In Mexico, where journalists who report on crime are regularly threatened, attacked, and killed, the Senate finally approved a constitutional amendment that federalizes criminal attacks on journalists.
Over the past three years, Mexico has climbed to number 8 on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2011 “Impunity Index,” which tallies the unsolved murders of journalists around the world. And that’s to say nothing of those who are murdered after commenting on crime via social media – an alarming trend in recent years.
Thanks to the new amendment, journalists can now turn to federal authorities, who have a better reputation dealing with corruption than local cops, whose hands are often in the pockets of drug cartels.
Now, some bad news:
Iowa just passed HF 589, which is better known as the “Ag Gag” law. It criminalizes investigative journalists who take jobs at factory farms seeking to document food safety and animal welfare abuses.
The law [makes] it a crime to give a false statement on an “agricultural production” job application. This lets factory farms and slaughterhouses screen out potential whistleblowers simply by asking on job applications, “Are you affiliated with a news organization, labor union, or animal protection group?”
Why does this matter?
In recent years, these undercover videos have spurred changes in our food system by showing consumers the disturbing truth about where most of today’s meat, eggs, and dairy is produced. Undercover investigations have directly led to America’s largest meat recalls, as well as to the closure of several slaughterhouses that had egregiously cruel animal handling practices.
(via The Atlantic)
You win some, you lose some.
A nation’s journalists and writers, like its poets and story-tellers, are the eyes, ears, and mouths of the people. When journalists cannot freely speak of what they see and hear of the reality that surrounds them, the people cannot see, hear, or speak it either.
Russell Banks, American Author, to colleagues during a PEN International mission to Mexico that is encouraging law enforcement to better protect journalists.
As the Committee to Protect Journalists notes, 43 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2006
This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks.
A note left with the beheaded body of a Mexican blogger in Nuevo Laredo along the Texas-Mexican border*. As we’ve written before, traditional newsrooms, bloggers, and social media commentators have been targeted by the drug cartels for reporting on their activity.
The victim, identified on social networking sites only by his nickname - Rascatripas or Belly Scratcher - reportedly helped moderate a site called En Vivo that posted news of shootouts and other activities of the Zetas, the narcotics and extortion gang that all but controls the city.
The beheaded body of another blogger, 39-year-old Elizabeth Macias, who contributed to the blog, was found in the same location in late September.
A young man and a woman were hung from a highway overpass earlier that same month. A sign left with their bodies said they too had been killed for their social media activity…
…With mainstream newspapers and broadcasters terrorized by the criminal gangs, whose violence has killed upward of 50,000 people across Mexico in five years, social media networks have become key information sources in many towns and cities.
A senior editor at El Mañana, Nuevo Laredo’s largest newspaper, was knifed to death after leaving work in 2004. Gunmen attacked the newspaper’s offices in 2006, crippling a journalist. The newspaper since has dramatically scaled back its reporting of the violence, as have other news organizations.
* Correction: We originally wrote that Nuevo Laredo was a neighborhood in Mexico City. Thank you wiredthoughts for pointing out our error.