A number of journalism educators and administrators traveled to Mexico City this past spring to assess the state of journalism in our bordering nation. Unfortunately, more journalists there are being killed than in any other country in the world as they report on drug cartels. While some journalists have had illegal drug dealings to supplement salaries, officials assume all are guilty and do little to solve or protect them. This situation has worsened over the past five years, especially since the free trade agreement has forced many smaller businesses out of business, and the drug cartels have gained a stronghold.
Journalists are not the only ones in danger and desperate for money. Young people have little motivation to find regular work or to pursue journalism education. The youth in Mexico can make more money dealing drugs and have found themselves in what seems to be hopeless situations. At the conference, we were challenged to come to their aid.
According to Alejandro Junco De La Vega, President and Director of Reforma, the largest newspaper group in Mexico, one advantage we have in our country is our work ethic. He says we are a success story because millions of people get up each day and go to school or go to work. He would like to see this work ethic instilled in Mexican society. He would also like for journalism students in Mexico to have a better understanding of how to be good reporters. Mexican educators agreed that the country is capable of change and proposed that a multimedia, multi-university partnership be formed. One goal would be to design an applied research project to compare street-level reporting practices between the two neighboring countries. Students at K-State and other universities would have an opportunity to become involved in distance learning projects to document contrasting practices.
The A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication is leading multi-media change, and our students continue to excel on many fronts. What if our next role will be to bring hope to the young democracy of Mexico? With the prevalence of multimedia and the Internet, almost everything can take place in a virtual setting. That truly is the future of journalism education at work in a global society today.