Meet Courage in Journalism Award Winner Adela Navarro Bello, Newsmagazine Director, Mexico

The general director of 'ZETA' magazine covers Mexico's deadly drug cartels.

By Lesley Kennedy • Reporter
adela navarro bello image
Adela Navarro Bello reports on Mexico's drug cartels.
Photograph: International Women’s Media Foundation

My co-editor Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco was murdered in June of 2004. Like Blancornelas in 1997, Ortiz Franco had investigated and published reports that revealed the way the Arellano cartel operated. He also provided names, photos and general information about the cartel's key members.

In none of these four cases, which have affected us deeply, and in which my co-workers were killed [or wounded] because they were investigative journalists working in an area dominated by organized crime, have the federal authorities or the state authorities concluded their investigations so that the murderers can be put behind bars. Only with regard to Félix Miranda’s murder have the men who pulled the triggers been arrested—but the person who ordered that crime is still a free man. Concerning the murders of Luis Valero and Francisco Ortiz Franco and the attack against Don Jesús Blancornelas, there’s not one person in jail because of these crimes. As with many crimes in México, these have been left unpunished.

More: Does this make you fear for your own life?

AN: This is not something I think about every day. If I feared for my life I surely would’ve switched jobs by now. I’m dedicated to journalism because it’s my calling, it’s my profession and my passion. The precautions we take at Zeta aren’t out of the ordinary, these are the steps anybody would take to protect their integrity. The most important thing is not to lie, not to exaggerate the stories we publish, to investigate and confirm the information we publish. Also, after Blancornelas retired as director of Zeta in February of 2006, the stories that reveal information against cartel members and the way the cartels operate are signed by Investigaciones Zeta, a faceless reporter.

More: How do your family and friends feel about your job? Do they ever ask you to stop?

AN: No. Everyone has been very respectful of my work. From my family and friends, all I’ve gotten is support.

More: How do you feel about self-censorship in your country, and what are some of the things Zeta is doing to fight it?

AN: At Zeta we practice our right of freedom of speech with responsibility and investigation week by week. We don’t judge the ones who choose auto-censorship, but from our news headquarters we promote freedom of speech.

More: What message do you think your courageousness sends other women around the world?

AN: That journalists who work on investigative journalism are not alone. That there are organizations out there, such as the IWMF, that watch over us and support us by sending a message of solidarity so we may continue to do our jobs.

Click here to learn more about the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Meet the other 2011 Courage in Journalism Award Winners:
Kate Adie, former BBC chief news correspondent
Parisa Hafezi, Reuters bureau chief, Iran
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai online newspaper, Thailand



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First Published October 24, 2011

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