Reporter’s Notebook: Documentary on threats, and dedication, to journalism resonates with young audience
Editor’s note: Last January, Tijuana journalists Margarito Martinez and Lourdes Maldonado were slain less than a week a part. In response to the killings and the slayings of other journalists in Mexico (about 130 have been killed in the past 30 years), the Union-Tribune Studio Productions produced a documentary that captures the commitment and dedication of Tijuana journalists while they face the fear of dying for doing their work.
The nearly 30-minute film, “Journalism at Risk,” made its debut Oct. 15 at the Festival of Journalism in San Diego. Last Saturday the documentary was shown at the Centro Cultural de Tijuana. U-T staff members who created the film, titled “Periodismo en Riesgo” in Spanish, presented the work, and were moved by the audience. A multitude of young journalists had streamed in, and like their older colleagues, their resolve to tell Tijuana’s story remains steadfast.
Following are the reflections of U-T visual journalist Alejandro Tamayo on the showing last Saturday:
After we presented Journalism at Risk at The San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Journalism, I felt like we were done. We had created a solid documentary series and presented it to a mid-size audience at SDSU. Gaby Martinez and Inez Garcia (subjects of the documentary) were present for a Q&A after.
My colleague Tania Navarro was not available to attend the Festival of Journalism and mentioned that it would be a good idea to present the series in Tijuana. Tania reached out, and after some emails, we arranged to screen Jan. 19. The date was important because it landed in the middle of the one-year anniversary of Margarito Martinez and Lourdes Maldonado murders.
We worked on the publicity and had to remove all English subtitles and text from the documentary and prepare for a Spanish-speaking audience.
On Jan. 19, Tania and I arrived early to prepare for the presentation. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by journalism students from IBERO (a local university), and we were interviewed about the documentary. Soon students from different campuses started asking questions. Tania introduced the series, and for 28 minutes I could see the audience was captivated by the stories on screen.
When the piece ended, four of the documentary’s subjects — Inés García, Sonia De Anda, Gabriela Martínez and Aime Melo — came on stage with Tania and me for a Q&A. Once the lights came on, I could finally see how many people had come out to view our documentary. I was amazed by the size of the crowd, but even more amazed by who was asking the questions during the Q&A. Young journalism students asked about safety, violence and ethics.
I felt like the topic could have gone longer if we had the time. After the Q&A a few young journalists came to me for an interview. That night we had offers by different colleges who wanted us to screen Periodismo en Riesgo at their campuses.
I felt like this was the perfect venue and city for the documentary.
The U-T staff members who produced the film were Tamayo, Navarro, Sam Hodgson, Kristina Davis, Ana Ramirez, Lucia Serano, Alexandra Mendoza, and Wendy Fry.
The film, which also also can be seen as a five-part series of about five-minutes for each segment, can be viewed at: