Rossini was once asked, “What are the three things that a singer most needs?” He answered, “Voice, voice, and voice.” I thought of this when hearing about Ernesto Zedillo, the president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000. He was asked, “What are the three things that Mexico most needs?” He answered, “The rule of law, the rule of law, and the rule of law.”
I’ve done a piece called “Reporting under the Gun: The lives of Mexican journalists.” Mexico is the most dangerous place in the world in which to be a journalist (outside of certain war zones, primarily Syria). And yet, many journalists there persist. Despite the dangers, despite the kidnappings, despite the murders. Why? Why do they do it?
“Because we like it,” said Javier Garza, with a chuckle. He is a veteran journalist with a lot of nerve, a lot of courage. Also, no country can be a functioning democracy without a free and fearless press. Mexican journalists face two opponents, intertwined: governmental authorities and drug gangs.
I think of the problems that we American journalists run into. Mean tweets? Nasty “comments”? Inadequate unionization? Insufficient TV time? Anyway, they are nothing compared with what others confront.
I think that a lot of us take for granted what we come in and do every day — I know I do. But the more you acquaint yourself with the world, the more you realize how rare freedom of expression is. My Mexican colleagues remind me: Don’t take it for granted.