So that they don't cut your wings
The Renaissance of Authentic Journalism
By Alex Contreras Baspineiro
De la Escuela de Narco News de Periodismo Auténtico
March 3, 2003
Somewhere inside Mexican territory, the international Authentic Journalism gathering ends. The challenges begin.
These were intense days for combining theoretical preparation and work experience of 27 journalists who work in radio, television and the written press, and who represent different parts of the world.
But in spite of the vast differences between us, we achieved unity in diversity, to advance on a new path of a journalism that is part of the people, that rescues principles like solidarity, integrity and honesty, that fights against corruption, and that is dignified in all circumstances.
In sum, a journalism that defends life, but that also tries to include other communicators around the world who are disturbed by soft commercial journalism.
The testimony of Al Giordano, our publisher at Narco News and president of the School, is very realistic, earth shaking, but also gives hope. “I came to Mérida in 1999 saying to people that I already was not a journalist. I was ashamed to belong to a corrupt industry, filled with cowards and liars,” he affirmed, also speaking of his travels in the state of Chiapas in parts controlled by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).
In the indigenous communities – among women and men who had risen up in arms – Al found the importance of being a journalist anew, but of a different journalism: authentic, truthful, revolutionary; in sum, the journalism that we must construct with our lives.
The publisher of the newspaper Por Esto!, Mario Menéndez, has lived similar experiences in communication. He learned to surmount the obstacles imposed by commercial journalism in the construction of this alternative, 12 years ago, with his newspaper, that, on the Yucatán peninsula is not only the most widely circulated but also the most accepted by the population.
“Forty years ago I felt frustrated. I told myself that I could not be a journalist and thought it would be better to take up arms to change the world. I was 25 years old. But there was a person who influenced us who gave his life for others and today he does not physically exist: Che Guevara,” he said.
Like Al or Mario, like Gary Webb or Luis Gómez, many of us journalists in our countries share these same feelings of frustration: Journalism has become a simple market product. It is an activity that has been appropriated by the corrupt, by delinquents, narco-traffickers and politicians who back a system based on the same parameters of conduct.
Today, with the strength and wisdom of popular organizations we must try to construct different forms of media. There are such beautiful experiences in the continent like community journalism, alternative communication, popular radio and collective media, offering sufficient examples that they can begin to be reproduced.
Unity in Diversity
“I had to explode myself a thousand times to find out if I could fly,” says a graffiti written on an old wall along the streets of Cochabamba.
And in the Mexican lands where we took our courses, many journalist made their first weapons, they exploded, they conquered obstacles, they felt ready to see that their articles could fly across the world via the Internet through the pages of Narco News. Others of us already had a lot of experience in practicing a journalism committed to society in different kinds of media: thus, we knew, we shared, and we improved ourselves.
The professors, social activists, experts on the drug war, and indigenous leaders who accompanied us in these events were simply a dignified example of the steps to follow. Together, we succeeded in widening our voices to five continents and together we also succeeded in getting out from the shadows.
On these days, we answered that there are still journalist who are only disposed to change the current models of communication but, above all, to work the bases, to break down the barriers imposed on our continent, and to continue dreaming about the construction of an alternative: Authentic Journalism.
Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español
Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site
and making a contribution today.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism
For more Narco News, click here.