As the bodies of slain journalists continue to pile up in Mexico with more than 100 murders of media workers since 2000, members of the press who live and work in Mexico are banding together to address the systemic violence with concrete action.
Some 360 journalists and 50 national and international media organizations have decided that protests and petitions alone are not enough to stop the heinous slaughter of media workers as the federal government continues to turn a blind eye. With soaring rates of impunity and a lack of urgency and accountability from authorities, reporters are looking for their own ways to tackle the crisis.
Under the banner Journalists' Agenda, the new initiative will bring the over 300 journalists together between June 14 and 16 to discuss ways to take the issue of protection into their own hands.
"Given the context of systemic violence against journalists ... we invite all people interested to participate in building an agenda with short and medium-term goals to protect jouralists," reads the Journalists' Agenda wesbite.
At the center of the initiative are six roundtables for journalists to discuss a variety topics including risk and attention, combating impunity, strengthening of social organizations, labor rights of journalists, public security reactions and the cost of attacks on journalists.
"The aim of each (roundtable) is that they serve to share experiences and define what needs to be done, who should do it and how we are going to organize ourselves to demand that it gets done," the website explains.
The Journalists’ Agenda was organized as a response to the death of renowned veteran reporter Javier Valdez, a correspondent in Sinaloa with Mexico's La Jornada newspaper and the founder of the outlet RioDoce. Valdez was gunned down on May 15, marking the sixth murder of a journalist in Mexico in 2017 and adding to the list of at least 103 journalists to be killed in Mexico since 2000.
According to Guillermo Osorno, director of Horizontal, Valdez’s murder was the last straw. He described the deceased as a well respected colleague who knew how to cover high-risk stories. Director of Proyecto Puente, Luis Alberto Medina, stated via radio broadcast that if they could kill Valdez, they could kill anyone.
“Freedom of expression here becomes a myth,” media director of Mexico's Animal Politico, Daniel Moreno, recently told The New York Times. “The fact that the authorities have proven they are incapable of solving most crimes against journalists, and are often the perpetrators of this violence themselves, then we can legitimately say that journalism is in a state of emergency in this country.”
News of the Journalists' Agenda follows the murder of Indigenous radio personality, Marcela de Jesus Natalia, outside her work Saturday morning.
Although violence against journalists and attacks on freedom of the press is an international issue, Mexico has consistently ranked as one of the most deadly countries in the world for media workers, underlining the importance of the new initaitive.
World renowned writers and organizations have already answered the call for justice with representatives of the New York Times and Reporters Without Borders attending the discussions with more registering every day. Those interested in participating can register online.