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Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Mike O’Connor, CPJ advocate for journalists in Mexico, dies at 67: A collection of articles



Mike O’Connor at a 2012 press conference in Culiacán, Mexico. Photo: Ron Bernal via CPJ.

Mike O’Connor, a veteran war correspondent who spent the last five years advocating for journalists’ safety in Mexico for the Committee to Protect Journalists, died of a heart attack on Dec. 29. He was 67.

O’Connor was an persistent and thorough reporter who regularly visited hot zones in Mexico, brought to light the cases of endangered reporters in remote areas of the country, and pushed for better federal laws to protect journalists.

An experienced foreign correspondent who worked in the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia and Central America, O'Connor began collaborating with CPJ in 2009. He was remembered in several obituaries as a fearless journalist with an unusually profound understanding of the dangers facing journalists in Mexico.

“With the sudden death of CPJ Mexico Representative Mike O'Connor (...) Mexican journalists have lost one of their most formidable advocates,” CPJ senior Americas program coordinator Carlos Lauría wrote.” Mike will be remembered as someone who was on the forefront of the struggle for press freedom. His superb skills as an investigative journalist helped scores of reporters across the country during a period marred by violence and censorship.”

Mexican journalists speaking to CPJ and leaving comments on Lauría’s post remembered O’Connor fondly.

"Mike's presence was essential during a crisis. In the rush to take protective measures, Mike's phone calls, several times a day, were not only a reminder that we were not alone, but a guide amid confusion,” former El Siglo de Torreón editor Javier Garza said. “His death leaves a great void in the struggle of Mexican journalists for security and protection. And it leaves me with an unpaid debt for his generosity, support and friendship."

O’Connor is survived by his wife, Los Angeles Times’ Mexico bureau chief Tracy Wilkinson, his two sons Sean and Gabriel and two grand daughters.

Read below some of O’Connor’s special reports for CPJ on the situation of the press in Mexico:

 

See below an August 2013 interview in Spanish with O’Connor on Rompeviento Televisión:



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