Photo by Associated Press.
On Tuesday, a man did what so many of us have done. He went to the elementary school near his house, sat in the audience with other proud parents, and then watched as his 6-year-old son and his classmates put on the school’s Christmas pageant.
It’s usually a happy moment of bonding with your children, but not on Tuesday.
Another man, not there for the Christmas pageant or to cheer on children, walked into the room and sought out Gumaro Perez Aguilando. He walked up to him and shot him in front of other parents and the children.
Perez was a journalist. He covered crime in Mexico’s southern state of Veracruz, one of the deadliest places for journalists.
Drug lords don’t like people who report on what they do. They don’t like reporters who go after government corruption, the people drug lords buy. They don’t like people who are fighting to change the status quo and trying to create a better world for their children.
When journalists die in Veracruz, the cases usually go unsolved.
There have been six journalists in Mexico murdered this year where the Committee to Protect Journalists say the motive is known that it’s because they were doing their job.
In Mexico, and especially in Veracruz where corruption runs rampant, officials try to convince people it wasn’t because they were a journalist, but because of some personal problems.
And the murders are never solved.
Six in Mexico is not the highest. There have been seven in Syria, and eight in Iraq. There have been 42 journalists killed this year. There were 48 last year.
Don’t for one second say it couldn’t happen here, not in Arizona, not this close to the newspaper where Don Bolles worked. His car, the one that had a bomb placed under it that would claim his life, is now a museum piece in Washington, D.C.
This country is polarized, and there are many avenues to get the news you want to hear, be it talk radio, blogs, or partisan cable TV news shows.
All those people make a lot of money to tell you what you want to hear. Real journalists, the ones who don’t have a bias, the ones out there looking for corruption and trying to expose wrong doing, they don’t make a lot of money.
They do it because we have a vital role to play in a democracy. Without an informed electorate, voters are easily swayed. Without someone turning in the public records requests and looking over their shoulders, elected leaders might give in to corruption.
You might think Americans would appreciate that. Instead, reporters are maligned and people shout the most horrible things at them. Some politicians do everything they can to discredit them.
So before you go shouting “fake news” at a real journalist because he won’t tell you what you want to hear but will instead give you the truth no matter how unpleasant, please remember that they don’t make a lot of money, they work really bad hours, they get no respect, and they safeguard your democracy.
Reporters certainly don’t deserve to be gunned down while watching their 6-year-old son perform in a Christmas pageant.