People wonder why I get so riled about threats to journalists, jokes about killing journalists, blanket statements that all journalists are worthless. You know why I get riled? Because of things like this:
MEXICO CITY — Three muckraking journalists have been assaulted or gone missing this month, with at least one of them slain, in a sign that investigating corruption remains a dangerous trade in Mexico.
The attacks appear to be an effort by organized crime to silence the media so that “no one knows anything,” Deputy Atty. Gen. Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos said Saturday.
The latest victim was prizewinning newspaper editor Raul Gibb Guerrero, owner of La Opinion in the town of Poza Rica, near the Gulf of Mexico. He was shot to death in neighboring Papantla on Friday night after publishing exposes on traffickers of stolen gasoline and drugs in the state of Veracruz.
“He was an altruist, dedicated to using the newspaper to improve society,” reporter Gabriel Hernandez said of his late boss. “No way will this stop us. We owe it to him to continue.”
Reprisals against journalists still happen. Here and elsewhere. From government authorities, from drug-running thugs, from people who just plain don’t like the truth being spoken. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, and mistakes on the part of some journalists don’t mean we should fling all of them over the side. And journalists (and particularly the CEOs of major media corporations) who buy into attempts to silence and intimidate them should consider the risks their fellow reporters, photographers and editors take on behalf of their jobs and the people they serve everyday.
We talk about patriotism a lot today. We talk about the price of freedom. Supporting a free and aggressive press (and I’m including blogs in that definition) is patriotic. Demanding the best from our media is patriotic. The First Amendment wasn’t a practice run. You can’t wave the flag and ignore half the stripes on it.