The Challenge of the Right to Inform in Mexico


Sandra Rodríguez (left) and Rocío Gallegos accept the 2012 Zenger Award.

Rocío Gallegos and Sandra Rodríguez, the 2012 winners of the John Peter and Anna Catherine Zenger Award, delivered the following acceptance speech Oct. 12.


This night, in which we reflect over the importance of freedom of expression in our regions, it is important to mention that Mexican journalism is going through the most critical phase in its history.


Mexico was already known as the most dangerous country in which to practice journalism due to the homicides and other aggressions against reporters in regions like Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Guerrero or Sinaloa, when this year from Veracruz we received the alarm that told us that the situation had not yet touched bottom. 


This past May, in that Mexican state, three journalists were found murdered, and not just any day, but it happened on the International Day of Freedom of Expression. 


Impunity in these cases and the other homicides is the national trademark of Mexico.


The implicit message from the violence as well as the lack of action is clear to the profession: The Mexican Republic does not care about human life or justice and much less of journalism or freedom of expression or Democracy.


But this violence, which continues without any punishment, is not the only challenge that we as Mexican journalists confront – also the lack of regulation of official publicity, which allows for millionaire and discretionary contracts between the media and the government, have become efficient mechanisms of censorship and information control on behalf of the authorities.


Within this context, as one can imagine, authoritarianism is being imposed and corruption is flourishing.


But in spite of all of this, in Mexico there are still journalists who keep betting on transparency, on investigation, on the search for spaces of freedom to be able to reveal information that we feel is necessary for our community, and to be able to counteract these exercises of absolute power. 


This is why we are very grateful to the University of Arizona, for turning around and looking at the conditions of Mexican journalism, and in particular, the conditions of journalism in Ciudad Juarez. This recognition is an encouragement to not take any steps backward, to continue forward, to defend our right to know. We cannot remain without information, because information helps us give meaning to our reality.


We are convinced that only information and the right to know can shape the consciousness that will liberate our region of all these injustices to which it is subjected. This honor, this prize, we want to share this with our Mexican colleagues who in spite of every risk, of every obstacle, every day they make an effort to defend our right to inform and to produce better journalism.


Thank you.


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