Ciudad Juárez, en la sombra del narcotráfico, a courageous blog about drug cartel activities, government repression and police corruption in northern Mexico, is the jury choice in the “Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom” category of this year’s BOBs (Best of Blogs competition), organized by the German radio station Deutsche Welle.
The blog’s author, Spanish journalist Judith Torrea, was chosen from 11 finalists by an international jury consisting of bloggers and a Reporters Without Borders representative. Using her own name, despite all the threats and dangers in Mexico, Torrea does investigative reporting in and around Ciudad Juárez, where she has lived since 2009, interviewing victims and the relatives of people who have disappeared or been murdered.
With at least 71 journalists killed since 2000 and 13 others disappeared since 2003, Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media personnel. Many flee abroad to escape reprisals by drug traffickers or corrupt elements within the police or army. The threats to the media from mafias and cartels were documented in “Organized crime: muscling in on the media,” a report published in February by Reporters Without Borders.
Voting on the BOBs website from 22 March to 11 April, the public also chose its own winner in each of the competition’s categories. The public’s choice in the “Reporters Without Borders” category is the blog kept by the editorial staff of the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Providing outspoken coverage of such stories as the Caucasus and police abuses, Novaya Gazeta has become an institution in Russia and abroad.
As a result of its success, the newspaper is often attacked and five of its journalists, including Anna Politkovskaya and Anastasia Baburova, have been murdered since 2001. The blog is also often the target of cyber-attacks that make it inaccessible. The newspaper has its own website that is distinct from the blog.
Prizes were awarded for blogs in 11 languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Indonesian, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese) and in six different categories. As well as “Reporters Without Borders,” the categories included Best Blog, Best Video Channel, Best Use of Technology for Social Good, Special Topic Award Human Rights and (this year for the first time) Best Social Activism Campaign. The winners can be seen at http://www.thebobs.com.
Last year, the jury choice in the “Reporters Without Borders” category was We are journalists, the blog of Iranian journalist and human rights activist Jila Bani Yaghoob, while the public’s choice was Green Dream, the blog of Saudi journalist and human rights activist Trad Al-Asmari.
This year’s prizes will be presented at Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum in Bonn on 20 June.