Mexican journalists share stories and strategies for staying safe in video series

The organization Article 19 posted five videos on its website about the working conditions of Mexican journalists. The videos consist of interviews with Mexican journalists who talk about their experiences first hand covering violence and organized crime, the daily hostility they confront, self-censorship, and the precautionary measures they have to take to protect themselves in the absence of action from the authorities to defend journalists' work or punish those responsible for committing crimes against the press.

Some of the tactics journalists reported using included informing family members or a confidant of their whereabouts and traveling in groups to cover violent events. "If something happens, at least we know where to start looking," said reporter Sandra Rodríguez Nieto.

Others, aware of the risks they run, decided to make a contingency plan. "Before, I spoke with my office team and I told them, 'if they kill me, if they kidnap me, if I disappear, you have to do this and this and call these people," said investigative journalist Lydia Cacho, describing the precautionary measures she took before police arrested her in 2005.

Some opted to wear bulletproof vests when reporting in high-risk environments. If they found themselves in the middle of a shootout, some reporters said they would hit the floor, cover their head and not make eye contact with anyone. Independent journalist Sanjuana Martínez rejected the idea of practicing journalism with bodyguards. "It's impossible to show up with two gorillas and do an interview," she said.

Journalists also reflected on how they gauge risks in their job and how to manage information to protect their life without compromising their independence and avoid pressure from the authorities and organized crime.

Click here to watch the videos.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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