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TIME magazine cites Latin American journalism as it honors persecuted journalists as 'Person of the Year'

In honoring persecuted journalists around the world as its “Person of the Year,” U.S. magazine TIME highlighted stories of reporters from Latin America.

Each year, the publication recognizes a person or group of people who have influenced the world. This year, it named journalists Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia), Maria Ressa (Philippines), Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Myanmar) and the Capital Gazette newspaper (United States).

“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world…who risk all to tell the story of our time,” wrote Edward Felsenthal, TIME’s editor-in-chief.

That time, Felsenthal says, is marked by democracies that face threats from new technologies, manipulate and abuse of truth, strongmen and weak institutions.

In this edition’s cover story, “The Guardians and the War on Truth”, TIME’s Karl Vick talked about Brazilian Patricia Campos Mello, a reporter and columnist for Folha newspaper, who was “targeted with threats after reporting that supporters of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro had funded a campaign to spread false news stories on WhatsApp.”

Bolsonaro, who assumes office in January 2019, is a harsh critic of major media, Vick later pointed out. “These are new times, really new times,” said Cristina Zahar, executive secretary of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji). “And journalists need to find ways to deal with this.”

For newspaper RioDoce in Sinaloa, Mexico, attacks came in the form of fatal violence when journalist Javier Valdez was killed in the middle of the street in May 2017, blocks from the newsroom.

“You never know when or where you can get smacked,” said Ismael Bojórquez, director of the weekly, according to TIME.

In a video accompanying the article, readers hear from Luz Mely Reyes, co-founder of Venezuelan site Efecto Cocuyo: “Free journalism in Venezuela is a species in extinction.”

There are images of protesters and journalists from El Bus TV, an initiative in which reporters read the day’s news aboard buses around the country.

“We decided that instead of watching the funeral of journalism, we would do something,” said Reyes, who founded Efecto Cocuyo in 2015 to provide news independent of powers that censored media in Venezuela. She recently was honored with the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

And finally, there is Dulcina Parra, a radio reporter for Conexión Sinaloa and kidnapping survivor working in Mexico, the most dangerous country in the region for journalists, as highlighted by TIME. “I am motivated to be a link between these people who in reality are helpless,” she said. 

The cover story for the Person of the Year issue can be accessed here. To read how TIME chose the honorees, click here.


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