So far in 2010 more than 7,600 people have been killed in Mexico's bloody drug wars. Many if not most victims lived along the Texas border. Dozens of victims are journalists, the most recent a photographer killed last week in Ciudad Juarez.
This year's Lovejoy Convocation couldn't be more timely. Colby honors Alfredo Corchado, the Mexico Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News, a journalist whom the Lovejoy award selection committee called the most intrepid reporter on the most dangerous beat in the Western Hemisphere.
An American Journalism Review feature (http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4890) this summer provided chilling details of what Corchado has faced, including death threats and the promise of this 'favor' -- "As we're chopping you into pieces," he was told, "we'll tape it so we can send it to your mother in El Paso."
Beyond Corchado's own courageous efforts to illuminate the dark shadows of narcoterrorism and the inability of governments to deal with it, there's a broader context. How does civil society, both in Mexico and places where the drug violence crosses the border, function with such brutal chaos in its midst? What is the cost of not knowing what's going on when journalists are prevented from reporting who is killing whom and why they're getting away with it?
Last weekend the Juarez paper, El Diario, put that question in front of citizens from north and south of the border when it published an open letter to druglords. It asked the cartels to explain "what you want from us?"
What, El Diario's editors asked, should we try to publish or not publish, "so we know what to expect?"
What better moment to hear Alfredo Corchado give the 2010 Lovejoy Address ( Sunday, Sept. 26, in Lorimer Chapel)? What better time to hear Corchado, Belo TV Mexico Bureau Chief Angela Kocherga, and University of Texas Knight Professor of Journalism Rosental Alves talk about covering Mexico-U.S. relations (panel discussion at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27, in Roberts)?
If you can't attend and help us honor these courageous reporters, audio recordings will be available the following day on the Goldfarb and Lovejoy websites (http://www.colby.edu/goldfarb).
Stephen Collins '74 majored in English and is now the College Editor at Colby.