The Narco News Bulletin

August 15, 2018 | Issue #67 - Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America

Letter to Santa: May There Be More Authentic Journalists!

Attending the 2015 School of Authentic Journalism Convinced Me There Needs to Be Many More

By By Jessica Ramirez
Class of 2015

December 7, 2015
This report appears on the internet at

From the time I studied communication at Mexico's National University, I wanted to practice journalism, the kind that could "change the world." At school, various professors, and even students younger than I was, used to tell me that as time passed I would lose the whole "change the world" thing. That in practice, things were different, and that journalism in Mexico was not only dangerous, but poorly paid.

Jessica Ramirez of Mexico City, writes that after attending the 2015 School of Authentic Journalism she realized "that my idea of practicing journalism to change the world wasn't that crazy after all." She asks you and other readers to pitch in to keep the project going. Photo by Antonio Hernández.Photo by Antonio Hernandez.
My current job in Mexico City puts me in contact with the media. And it's true. In my country, it's a high-risk activity and far from being one of the better paid professions. But what disillusioned me most was seeing the kind of journalism limited to covering press conferences, collecting official press releases, and reprinting public relations communiqués (without changing even a comma). I realized that the problem isn't just the people who own the media and see journalism as a business. Journalists are also the problem.

Projects like the School of Authentic Journalism remind me that there are people all around the world that are still working to make change and who are far from losing their enthusiasm, even with the passage of time and in the face of difficult circumstances.

It's inspiring to be with 40 people interested in speaking out against injustices and in questioning power. It's enriching to learn from their experiences and learn from the work they do throughout the world.

I think that it's useless to have information, and to know what's wrong in a country, if nothing is done to change it. And I believe that the tools that The School of Authentic Journalism provides are for just that: to do something.

I had never known of a school that had as one of its central subjects Protection for Journalists in Conflict Zones. And I knew of none that offered workshops in civil resistance and that could teach you, step by step, how to effectively cover social movements. In a country like Mexico, all of this is indispensable for practicing journalism.

It confirmed the idea that spontaneous and disorganized resistance and mass marches, even when more than 100,000 people participate, and all of society's despair and anger, are not enough to build a movement. I learned that citizen struggles need a plan, committed people, common objectives, and humor to keep things together.

I am learning that humor has a better chance of going viral against all of life's tragedies. I am coming to understand the importance of alliances, of social network, and above all, the importance of telling stories.

The School needs to happen in 2016 and for years to come. I understand it cost more this year than anticipated and to make future scholarships possible Narco News needs to pay the remaining debts for this one. Although I titled this a "letter to Santa" that really means you. That's why I'm asking you to make a donation today to the Fund for Authentic Journalism, at this link:

Or to send a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA

The School of Authentic Journalism reminded me that building movements that have a possibility of winning is in fact, possible. And so, after all this time, I'm realizing that my idea of practicing journalism to change the world wasn't that crazy after all.

Jessica Ramirez
Class of 2015.

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