I shouldn’t state this publicly, but I’m beginning to feel immune to stories about journalists’ deaths.
Terrence Blacker, The Independent columnist, writes: “There is a direct connection between the murder of writers and the attitude of those who live in more comfortable countries, who have become bloated with news and cynical towards the media.”
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says that 2009 was one of the worst years for journalist killings. The Asia Pacific Region had the highest death toll after the Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines, where 32 journalists and media staff died. With 13 murders of journalists, Mexico pushed the Americas into second place (with a total of 30 killings).
The fact that my home country, Mexico, is becoming one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, and that I’m currently living in a “more comfortable” country (where I pretend to be a writer) puts me in the crosshairs of Blacker’s remark.
I thank him. It’s time for the Western media to start connecting dots.
In many cases, journalists were killed for exposing the “prohibited.” The majority of them belonged to local, often small, radio stations and newspapers. There was rarely a CNN or Fox News among these journalists’ affiliations (with some exceptions).
In many cases, like in Mexico, these local journalists were doing this work soley for the passion of exposing what many journalists wouldn’t write about. They didn’t have any grants, or funding, or the backup of a powerful network of journalists. They didn’t have a privileged nationality, either.
I agree with Blacker when he says that “it is vain and self-deluding to believe that the killing of writers in other parts of the world has nothing to do with our own lives and attitudes.” Yet, when have people really connected to human rights violations and atrocities happening in other parts of the world?
Some people in developed countries have condemned these actions, but this hasn’t transformed into powerful social outrage. And I suspect it doesn’t help when advocacy groups in “comfortable countries,” such as IFJ, participate in the normalization of attacks on journalists by trotting out stereotypes about the countries where they’re killed, such as “gangster-ruled” Mexico, as IFJ calls my country, or “lawless” Somalia.