Cartel Gunmen Kill 10th Mexican Journalist in 6 Months



Authorities confirmed the murder of yet another Mexican journalist, marking 10 unsolved cases by suspected cartel gunmen in six months.

Last week, yet unidentified gunmen shot and killed Mexican journalist Candido Rios Vasquez, a veteran crime beat reporter for the local newspaper Diario de Acayucan in the town of Covarrubias, Veracruz, Mexico’s Proceso reported. The murdered journalist was an outspoken critic of the Mexican government, its corruption, and repressive tactics.

At the time of the murder, Rios Vasquez was standing outside a local convenience store with former local police commander Victor Alegria and another man who has not been identified. A group of gunmen drove by the shop and opened fire, killing the unknown man and former cop. Rios Vasquez was seriously injured and died en route to a local hospital.

Despite the many assurances made by governments at the federal and state level, 2017 is one of the deadliest years for Mexico. The murders reached some of the once untouched tourist destinations and silenced Mexican journalists. In a span of five months, cartel gunmen murdered nine other journalists, Breitbart Texas reported.

Human rights activists and journalists previously called out the Mexican government for their inaction in addressing the impunity with which reporters are murdered, Breitbart Texas noted. Mexican authorities have not solved any of the 10 cases and are largely ineffective in addressing the multiple threats and attempts by cartel members.

Late last month, gunmen shot and killed veteran reporter Luciano Rivera at a bar in the resort town of Rosarito, Baja California. Rivera was a journalist with the local news outlet CNR TV.

In June, Mexican authorities confirmed that a charred body found in a rural area in Michoacan belonged to Mexican journalist Salvador Adame, Breitbart Texas reported. The TV reporter was kidnapped a month prior by a team of cartel gunmen.

In May, gunmen shot and killed Javier Valdez, a trailblazing journalist who helped start Rio Doce, an independent news outlet exposing government corruption and cartel activity in Sinaloa, Breitbart Texas reported.

In March, La Linea faction of the Juarez Cartel murdered investigative journalist Miroslava Breach, Breitbart Texas reported. Prior to her death, Breach covered relatives of a leading cartel member trying to take political office in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.  You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at

Your Editor repeats the question.

Journalists Fear for Their Lives


by CHARLIE SPIERING,  Breitbst News

Members of the establishment media reacted in horror after President Donald Trump criticized them again last week during a rally in Phoenix in the wake of the violent Charlottesville protests.

Axios founder Jim VandeHei sent a series of distressed messages on Twitter early Wednesday morning after Trump called the media “bad people” and “sick people” who “don’t like our country.”

To family/friends who support Trump: what he said last night about reporters was despicable, extremely deceptive, dangerous. Claim bias. Fine. Claim elitism. Fine. Claim the press hyperventilates/bloviates. Fine. But to say reporters erase America’s heritage, don’t love America, turn off cameras to hide truth, are to blame for racial tension, is just plain wrong. I worked w/ reporters like Daniel Pearl who died a gruesome death seeking truth; scores die yearly exposing facts. There are great Americans deeply concerned about a changing nation. God forbid one buys Trump’s mad rant and takes action..

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd also expressed worry that journalist’s lives were in danger.

“Whether POTUS means it or not, I don’t know, but this could motivate a crazy,” he saidon Twitter. “Dangerous rhetoric. Sad how few elected officials condemn it.”

“Who will Donald Trump blame when a journalist gets severely injured or worse by someone acting in his name?” wrote Tom Namako of Buzzfeed. “’Fake news?’”

“I’ve worked as reporter in China; during riots/protests in Seoul, Rangoon, Manila; civil rights demos in Miss/AL,” wrote the Atlantic’s James Fallows.  “Hadn’t seen this.”

“This was incitement, plain and simple,” said ABC’s Cecilia Vega on ABC’s Good Morning America. “This was an assault that went on and on and on, I’ve got to tell you … this one felt different, it really feels like a matter of time, frankly, before someone gets hurt.”

CNN reporters also signaled their distress, after Trump supporters roared “CNN Sucks!” during the rally.

“The attacks from the most powerful office in the world are fundamentally dangerous,” CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto wrote.

“This is why I keep calling the president’s words ‘poison,’ CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote. “His attacks seep into the country’s bloodstream.”

“That is dangerous rhetoric. It just is. It is dangerous. Something is going to happen,” a distraught CNN reporter Chris Cillizza said on-air. “You cannot vilify the media like this. I know I’m a reporter, but you cannot do this with any profession and expect no consequences.”

CNN political analyst Peter Mathews said Trump’s rhetoric as “dangerous,” comparing it to same rhetoric that Hitler used in Nazi Germany.

“That is going back to not just McCarthyism, but perhaps worse, even toward fascism or something like what was going in Germany before Hitler and when he was holding on to power,” Mathews said.

“People close to him know it puts journalists at risk just for doing their jobs,” CNN’s Sara Murray wrote. “He does it anyway.”

Murray warned that some of Trump’s supporters “treat Trump’s ‘fake news’ diatribes seriously,” and “harass reporters and photographers.”

Your Editor Asks: How long before one of us is murdered?

Entrepreneurial Journalism Is Growing in Latin America, But Faces Threats


By Janine Warner

This post is the executive summary from SembraMedia’s recent research report, Inflection Point, on the impact, threats, and sustainability of digital media entrepreneurs in Latin America. The report was made possible by support from Omidyar Network. .

Digital media entrepreneurs are serving an increasingly important role in Latin America. Since the first venture in this study was launched in 1998, hundreds of digital natives have appeared in the region and grown to serve millions of readers.

This study is the first comprehensive examination of the impact these entrepreneurs are having, the risks they face, and whether a viable business model has emerged for quality, independent, digital journalism. To conduct this research, SembraMedia, with the support of Omidyar Network, commissioned a team to study 100 digital news startups, 25 each in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Many of the researchers were entrepreneurial journalists themselves, and they brought personal connections and a deep understanding of the media in their countries. In 2-hour interviews with founders or directors, they asked more than 130 questions about management and innovation, challenges and opportunities, audience size and engagement, income and expenses.

This report is aimed at helping the founders of digital media startups better understand the trends, threats, and best practices that affect them. It is also designed to help investors, foundations, and journalism organizations to appreciate the value, vulnerability, and impact of this fast-growing media ecosystem. Although we cannot share their proprietary data, we’ve included our top-level findings in this report.

Entrepreneurial journalists pay a high price for publishing independent news

The main finding of this study is that digital media entrepreneurs are deeply transforming the way that journalism is conducted and consumed in Latin America.

They are not just producing news — they are generators of change, promoting better laws, defending human rights, exposing corruption, and fighting abuses of power.

They are driven to produce independent news in countries that are highly politically polarized — and some of them are paying a high price for it.

Luis Cardona of Pie de Página in Mexico spent months covering the disappearances of 15 low-level workers in the drug trade only to be kidnapped and tortured himself.

Cardona, and the artist Rapé, dramatized the story in an animated video published on YouTube. Both have had to flee their hometowns because of death threats.

Nearly half the journalists interviewed for this study reported threats and physical attacks in response to their coverage. More than 20% of the founders and directors we interviewed admitted that they avoided covering certain topics, people, and institutions because of threats and intimidation.

Others face punitive lawsuits, cyber-attacks, never-ending audits, and the loss of advertising revenues in retaliation for their coverage.

Digital natives in Latin America have an even more important role to play than their counterparts in the over-saturated media markets of the developed world.

News ownership is highly concentrated in these countries, and government advertising is frequently used to reward compliant media outlets.

Digital natives are building sustainable (and even profitable) businesses

Even in the face of these legal, financial, and physical threats, entrepreneurial journalists are building sustainable businesses around quality journalism.

The advent of social media and easy-to-use web design tools has made it possible to launch a digital media venture almost entirely on sweat equity.

More than 70% of the ventures in this study started with less than $10,000, and more than 10% of those now bring in at least a half million dollars a year in revenues.

After analyzing data on traffic, finances, revenue sources, staffing, and years in business, we identified four distinct tiers of business development.

Diversified revenue is key to success

Diversified revenue was key to success, especially in the mid tiers, and we found more than 15 distinct revenue sources, including events, training, membership, crowdfunding, and native advertising.

More than 65% reported they were earning revenue in at least three ways.

In the top tier, where audiences reach more than 20 million visits per month, advertising is the top revenue source, but not the only one. In the mid ranges, there is no dominant business model and diversified revenue sources that combine advertising with audience-driven sources, such as events and crowdfunding, are crucial for sustainability.

When we analyzed the lower tiers, we found lots of opportunities for improvement. Despite their dedication to quality journalism, more than 30% brought in less than $10,000 in total revenues in 2016.

Broadly speaking, we found two paths to growing these businesses: building audience to drive traffic and advertising, or leveraging the loyalty of the audience to inspire micro-donations and the 15 other ways they are making money.

These paths are not mutually exclusive.

Journalism-focused entrepreneurs under-invest in business

For many of these journalists-turned-entrepreneurs their greatest strength – their drive to produce great journalism – is also their greatest weakness, blinding them to the bottom line.

The majority underinvest in sales and marketing, even when they have high enough traffic to drive significant ad revenue.

Many complain they don’t have the money to hire sales staff, but the ones who do, are reaping the benefits.

When we compared the median revenues of those who do have sales staff with those that don’t, the difference was dramatic. Those with at least one sales person reported more than $117,000 in annual revenues; those with no sales staff reported less than $3,900.

Record numbers of women are going around the glass ceiling

Of the 100 digital natives we studied, 62% had at least one woman among the founders. Women also play a significant role in the executive and management teams.

In the context of Latin America, where traditional media is dominated by men, this finding is even more significant.

Audience-driven innovation

From training citizen journalists, to crowd-voicing, digital media entrepreneurs are extending the way we produce and consume news.

Many of the innovative ideas in this study were fueled by the closeness of these journalists to the audiences they serve.


We share the insights and suggestions in this report with the goal of helping this vibrant community of digital media startups evolve into an even more robust ecosystem.

  • Connect digital natives with organizations that protect and defend journalists with legal and technical support.
  • Foster sustainability with grants, investment, and an accelerator focused on strengthening management teams, growing audience, and diversifying revenues.
  • Provide business training that includes best practices and real-world examples of diversified revenue models and the latest advertising models.
  • Build bridges and alliances to extend their audiences and share resources.

The full report is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese at

Janine Warner is an International Center for Journalists Knight Fellow and the co-founder and executive director of SembraMedia, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Spanish-language entrepreneurial journalists. Janine launched SembraMedia after working with thousands of journalists throughout Latin America. She has also taught online courses in entrepreneurial journalism for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas.

One Question That Turns Courageous Journalists Into Cowards


By Farai Chideya

There are many ways to cover politics—data, field reporting, expert analysis—but all of them require a sense of not just what to seek and include, but what to exclude. So when I was verbally sexually harassed by a Trump supporter after an interview, that didn’t make my coverage. It wasn’t germane to the story I was writing. But it did make me think, once again, how reporters’ experiences in the field are shaped by things we can’t control, like the bodies we are born into; as well as ones we can, like the expertise with which we research our topics and listen for key insights.

Being a black woman reporter who covers politics, race, and gender has made me unafraid to enter spaces where I am not particularly welcomed. I once showed up unannounced at an all-white country church to interview a pastor who had threatened to dig up the body of a mixed-race baby from their cemetery. Most of the time, things are less dramatic than that. But I’ve learned a lot from having to remain compassionate under challenge, to navigate differences big and small with an eye on being fair in my final reporting. I’d wager that all political reporters who go out into the field have to deal with their own version of these challenges, which is one reason diversity matters in political teams. Different perspectives on as massive a topic as American politics should strengthen the work of the whole newsroom.

That’s me speaking through the lens of my experience, of course. I also believe it’s important to quantify the question of who reported the 2016 election, and whether political teams’ race and gender diversity had any impact on newsrooms. As a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, I’m researching the subject by conducting interviews with reporters and experts, and using the newly released MIT Media Lab analytics tool MediaCloud, and data from the firm Media Tenor.

But the most important data point for this project—numbers from newsrooms on their 2016 political team staffing—has been the hardest to collect because very few managers or business-side staff are willing to disclose their data. One company admitted off the record that they were not responding to diversity requests, period. The Wall Street Journal provided the statement that it “declined to provide specific personnel information.” An organization sent numbers for its corporate parent company, whose size is approximately a thousand times the size of the entire news team, let alone the political team. Another news manager promised verbally to cooperate with the inquiry, but upon repeated follow up completely ghosted.

There are exceptions. Liz Spayd, the public editor of The New York Times, wrote an excellent piece noting that of the paper’s 20-plus political reporters during 2016, two were black, and none were Latino, Asian, or Native American. Susan Page of USA Today responded within minutes of my sending an initial email to say that the paper’s core political staff consisted of 10 women and eight men; and among those, two Latinos and one African-American. Their level of candor is both refreshing and rare. So far, several other news organizations have promised numbers but are still in the process of delivering.

So I’m going to put this out there for everyone to see. I’m looking for metrics on the racial and gender diversity of newsroom political teams—notes on how to share yours are below—and for us to self-report because it’s the right thing to do. We should not be ashamed by these numbers, whatever they are, but we should be deeply ashamed if we hide them.

Arguably, 2016 was the most racially contentious and gender-fraught election of the modern era.  This election required extraordinary things of journalists. Sometimes we lived up to the challenge; but in many other ways, we missed the mark. When it comes to the diversity of our political reporting teams, it seems we can’t even find out what the mark is, because despite our proclaimed love affair with data, we won’t disclose our own.

We’re going through a heady and self-congratulatory period in American journalism. A tough one, yes, but a time where we are arguably needed more than ever. We are demanding transparency from the Trump Administration, other branches of government, and business entities. We are using our role as journalists to claim the moral high ground, and patting ourselves on the back for speaking truth to power.

But here’s a truth: diversity in American media has nearly flatlined for more than a decade, and there’s no reason to expect it’s any better in our political units. The American Society of Newspaper Editors’ annual diversity study in 2014 noted that “The percentage of minority journalists has remained between 12 and 14 percent for more than a decade.” In 2016, it rose to 17 percent, which sounds good until you realize that more than a third of Americans are Latino or non-white. Women were 38 percent of the newspaper employees in 2016… and of course women are 51 percent of the population.

My own experience

I was the only black reporter in my newsroom at FiveThirtyEight during the 2016 election cycle, and the employee who had covered the most presidential elections. I was also a non-data journalist at a data journalism site, which led to debates over how to approach stories. For example, as someone who has written three books that deal directly with race or gender, I wanted to dig more deeply into the political science behind why racial rhetoric is both toxic and persuasive sooner in the cycle.

As a newsroom veteran, I tried to deal with any tensions in a productive way; spent time mentoring other employees; and also got the benefit of learning data journalism techniques from an amazingly talented staff. Was it easy? No. Any time there are differences in skillsets and/or diversity, there is more chance of conflict, but as many business analyses show, companies with more staff diversity outperform similar but less diverse ones. And in journalism, where our life histories help inform how we get the story, we should recognize diversity helps prevent groupthink—something there was far too much of this election cycle. (FiveThirtyEight has since hired a black political reporter and a black sports writer.)

In my time as a political reporter, I have learned to deal with the indignities of being a black woman on the road. A couple election cycles ago, a man at an offsite event at a political convention repeatedly used the word “nigger”—not to describe me, of course, just those other black people he hated. As mentioned, this cycle I was verbally sexually harassed by an interview subject, an older white construction worker who then had the audacity to thank me for not chewing him out the way the ladies at work did. In other words, he knew what he was doing was wrong, and he took advantage of the fact that I was on his turf and there in a professional capacity, hardly the time and  place to have an outburst. (That’s not my style anyway, but it seems to be what he requires to stop).

These are small prices to pay to get a front-row seat while history is made. I never expected being a reporter to be easy. But what breaks my heart is when fellow journalists disrespect the idea that newsrooms should be integrated, and do their best to justify de-facto newsroom segregation. When I wrote an article several years ago on newsroom diversity, a person from a major newsroom wrote in response that they had done excellent work covering Hurricane Katrina with their disproportionately white staff. What kept coming to mind as I replied to him was: Do you want me to compliment you for being able to work without diversity? That’s like saying “We run an excellent segregated school in an integrated neighborhood.” It’s not a cause for applause.

In addition, I know on background that same newsroom paid a settlement to a journalist of color who’d had run-ins with a white journalist known for conflict with a series of reporters of color. Some of journalism’s more intense racial and gender problems—not just harassment, but being passed over for promotions in favor of less experienced white or male reporters—are veiled behind settlements with non-disclosure agreements. (Think of the many settlements involving Roger Ailes that predated the public knowledge of allegations of sexual harassment.) As a journalist for 25 years, I’m privy to some of this insider knowledge, but the nature of the settlements make them hard to document publicly. Settlements with women and journalists of color are not just evidence of discord within America’s newsrooms, but also offer a secondary business case for diverse staffing and better management to avoid costly payments.

Judging from the spate of articles about the lack of diversity in President Trump’s cabinet, journalists know that there’s merit in reporting on race and gender metrics… except when they’re our own. Only doing the research will provide us with a sense of how this impacts newsrooms. But I suspect in the long run, in a world where audiences can cherry pick what they find relevant, less diverse newsrooms are likely to miss key stories, or join in late. That can’t be good for the bottom line. No matter what the numbers tell us, shouldn’t we want to know? And it’s better for us to learn sooner than later. If newsrooms want to be more diverse by 2020, it’s time to plan ahead and see about casting a wider net for talent, or giving new opportunities to those already in the newsroom.

If we journalists can’t turn as unsparing a gaze on ourselves as we do on others, it speaks poorly for us and the credibility of our profession. If the press lauds itself for demanding transparency from government but cannot achieve transparency in its newsrooms, that is cowardice. If we say we can cover all of America with representatives of only a few types of communities, we may win battles but lose the war to keep news relevant to a broad segment of Americans. This is as strong a business argument as a moral argument.

When it comes to race and gender, I have some means of getting rough data without newsrooms’ participation. My tireless research assistant and I are literally going through rosters of reporters and editors  and coding them by race and gender. This has the potential to be incomplete, and the process is, frankly, comical. For example, we use membership in ethnic news organizations like NABJ and AAJA to help us categorize the race of reporters of color. But there is no affirmative categorization for whiteness, just the absence of other markers. Thus, most of the people in our rosters are now coded WX—meaning: White… eXcept how do we know for sure? To be rigorous—to move them from WX to a firm W—we need to literally call every person coded WX and ask: “Are you white?”

Doing this kind of work is tedious, and being stonewalled is humiliating. It’s not my fantasy to spend time harassing news organizations who pride themselves on fostering information transparency to be forthcoming about their diversity numbers. But someone needs to do it, and I’m in a position to give it a good hard try. If I can’t get it done, even with the imprimatur of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center behind me, it speaks to a deep and shameful resistance within our news culture to holding ourselves accountable.

This is our chance to do one small good thing for journalism, to stand up and truly be accountable. So let’s do this. Lay your metrics on the table, American journalism. We can congratulate ourselves afterward on having been brave about it.

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