National Press Club

National Press Club, NPC Journalism Institute stand with Mexico’s journalists

August 25, 2017 | By Kathy Kiely | kkiely@press.org

The National Press Club and its nonprofit Journalism Institute join our colleagues around the globe in mourning the death of Candido Rios Vazquez, a Mexican journalist who reported extensively on corruption in his country.

The 57-year-old, who was in a government program to protect journalists because of threats on his life, was gunned down Aug. 22.

The brutal murder of another Mexican reporter is the latest extreme example of a growing global problem: the targeting of journalists who challenge power, whether that power is wielded by thugs or politicians.

It is to call attention to this clear and present danger to free speech and democracy that the National Press Club and the NPC Journalism Institute chose to honor Mexico’s journalists with the 2017 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award for foreign reporting at the annual Fourth Estate Awards Gala on Oct. 4. Mexico is one of the deadliest countries in the world for reporters; at least nine have been killed there this year.

“How fervently we wish we did not have this latest evidence of the timeliness of this award,” said Barbara Cochran, board president of the National Press Club’s Journalism Institute. “We can only hope that our Fourth Estate Awards Gala will provide an opportunity for journalists to rededicate ourselves to the public we are trying to serve. That would be a fitting tribute to the work of Candido Rios Vazquez and his brave colleagues.”

Earlier this year, another Mexican journalist, Martin Mendez, returned to the homeland where he too has faced death threats. Mendez was found by U.S. immigration authorities to have a “credible fear” of returning to Mexico; nonetheless, he was imprisoned for months in such harrowing conditions that he finally gave up his effort to obtain asylum.

“When reporters are threatened, democracy is threatened,” said National Press Club President Jeff Ballou. “When the lives or livelihood of journalists are in jeopardy, so is the public’s freedom. We cannot and will not rest until that message is delivered and understood worldwide.”

The winner of the 2017 Aubuchon Press Freedom Award for domestic reporting is the White House Correspondents’ Association. The White House Correspondents’ Association is being recognized for its tireless advocacy for the reporters and the public in the face of insults, threats and undermining of the constitutional role of journalists by President Donald Trump’s administration.