Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto was denied asylum in the United States last week after nearly a decade of living in New Mexico. Gutiérrez Soto wrote for El Diario del Noroeste and fled his country, with his son, in 2008 after receiving a tip that his life was in danger due to his reporting.
The El Paso Times reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials plan to deport Gutiérrez Soto and his son.
The National Press Club and other journalism organizations issued a statement
Here is the statement of the SPJ Rio Grande board:
Journalists — a group of people whose rights are constitutionally protected in the United States — face an increasingly dangerous and too often fatal task in Mexico, and their killers usually go unpunished. It’s exactly under such circumstances that our nation’s asylum system should act. We’re dismayed that Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s asylum petition has languished for years and that our federal government now intends to send him back to Mexico — a move that could be a death sentence. We plead for an immediate reversal of that decision.
Board members of the Rio Grande Chapter of SPJ were saddened to hear about the death of Bob Martin of KRQE News 13. Our deepest condolences go out to Bob’s colleagues, friends and family. Although many of us work as competitors, all journalists in New Mexico are part of our journalism family and we hope our friends at KRQE will reach out if they need support.
Our president, Sarah Gustavus, is available to help connect people: firstname.lastname@example.org
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the July/August issue of Quill magazine, the Society of Professional Journalists’ magazine, is a soliloquy that reduces women to their backsides.
This weekend, New Mexico journalist and SPJ member Marie C. Baca rightly pointed out that the image of a woman’s posterior used to illustrate this month’s “Training Day” feature about journalism training was a poor choice. As Baca put it in a letter to SPJ’s board: “We don’t get to see this woman’s face, she is simply an object, and the focal point of the cover photo is her butt.”
SPJ’s official response, in part (you can read it all here) was that the photo showed a woman in typical workout wear, and that “we are sorry some readers find it offensive.”
The non-apology “We’re sorry if you were offended” apology is neither helpful nor authentic, and in SPJ’s case, it’s damaging to our efforts to be an open and welcoming place for all journalists.
If you’re asking why we’re devoting this space to a stock image on an association magazine cover, here’s why: The message it sends matters.
Baca’s letter makes us think of a young woman journalist who might see image and have concerns but not be sure if she would be heard. Later, she may be a little less likely to stick her neck out and ask for a raise, as Baca noted, or advocate for a tough assignment.
And if journalism is covering itself this way, how are we covering our communities? We must do better than this.
Our profession and SPJ must consider the impact of the images and words we use in coverage. Heck, the responsibility to do that is enshrined in our ethics code: “Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.”
It’s an editor’s job to consider whether people who are different from her would see bias in the words and images she’s chosen – and then consult people who are different from her, to see if she’s right.
The SPJ Rio Grande board shares Baca’s concerns about the image and about SPJ’s unwillingness to admit that it made a poor choice.
We’re committed to being an open and welcoming place for all journalists, and to holding our own organization accountable when we see it fall short, as we’ve done here, by writing these words and sending them to SPJ’s board president.