A soldier for freedom (of the press)


 A soldier for freedom (of the press)

 I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper stickers on some cars and trucks that say, “I Don’t Believe the Liberal Media.” I’ve even seen a few that say, “I Don’t Believe the Conservative Media.”

Personally, I’d like one that says “I Don’t Believe Reality Shows.” I know they’re faking it, even if I still want to know what’s in those storage lockers.

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But whether you read, listen or watch the conservative, liberal or reality show media, at least we  have media that, 90 percent of the time anyway, has some grasp of the truth so you can have some knowledge of what is going on in the community, the country and the world.

Freedom of the press has it adherents and detractors in the good ol’ U.S. of A., but at least we’ve got it. That’s not the case in many places in Mexico where violence has rocked the country. According to various reports, more than 80 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2006, when drug wars among the cartels, the government and other groups have escalated the violence in the country.

Last week, Alfredo Corchado, the Mexico bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News spoke in Fort Worth about his upcoming book, Midnight in Mexico, his story of watching the country descend into darkness. Corchado spoke at a meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists – Fort Worth. He knows firsthand about the violence in Mexico and the terrible price many – not just journalists by any means – have paid. He himself has been threatened and he has seen many die in the country of his birth.

Corchado’s book will be published in May and his tales are harrowing. He once spoke on a panel in Juarez about the more than 300 women who have been murdered there. As he left, his cell phone rang. It was someone from the cartel, telling him he had been targeted.

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“They said ’I know exactly where you are,’” Corchado said. Corchado called a source that helped smuggle the reporter out of the country before anything could happen. But violence is unpredictable, noted Corchado. The official who helped him was later killed.

As a result of much of the violence, as well as industry cutbacks, Corchado is now the only reporter in the Morning News’ Mexico bureau. But it’s far better than some papers. Many news organizations in Mexico have given up covering news of drug cartel violence. Sometimes they will report on a death, but won’t say who the suspects are, says Corchado.

As a result, many citizens are turning to social media simply to live their lives. Some cities have Twitter feeds that tell citizens where crime scenes are so they can avoid them. And one blog run by an anonymous webmaster, Blog del Narco, offers news, including graphic photos and videos of violence and mayhem.

Corchado, who didn’t tell his parents that he was covering the violence in Mexico until recently, soldiers on.

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While the violence on the border seems miles away from Fort Worth, Corchado says he is working on several reports about how the violence there is impacting life here as well as some area connections to the cartels.

And it’s not just the violence. If Mexico had a more stable system, trade with our neighbor to the south would likely be much more of a factor for business in this area. As it is, Corchado believes it will take several decades before Mexico’s institutions have enough stability to effectively halt the violence and keep the cartels down.

Corchado was asked if the legalization of drugs here would stop the cartels, but he doubted it. Aside from drugs, the cartels are into a variety of illegal activity, including kidnapping, human trafficking, gambling and other vice-related “businesses.”

Soldier on Mr. Corchado, for freedom of the press everywhere.


In Market is a column written from the perspective of a plugged-in business journalist about business happenings in and around Tarrant County. Got an idea for In Market? Robert Francis can be reached at rfrancis@bizpress.net.