Review: Reporter’s murder shows cost of pursuing the truth

Oct 20, 2022, 11:17 AM | Updated: 11:54 am

This cover image released by Bloomsbury shows "In the Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Coverup, and the True Cost of Silencing the Press" by Katherine Corcoran. (Bloomsbury via AP)

(Bloomsbury via AP)

“In the Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Coverup, and the True Cost of Silencing the Press,” by Katherine Corcoran (Bloomsbury)

The confluence of corrupt governance, poverty, drug trafficking and reporters who can be bought is a dangerous place for reporters and democracy.

Accomplished Mexican investigative reporter Regina Martinez paid with her life for her relentless reporting on criminal behavior by officials, government ministers, police and anyone else who violated a public trust.

In this book, former Associated Press reporter and bureau chief Katherine Corcoran takes up a consuming quest during her time in Mexico — who killed investigative reporter Regina Martinez?

Corcoran’s book is what we in journalism like to call “a cautionary tale” — a story about what could happen if we don’t address a problem — in Mexico’s case a news media under attack and not widely respected, and therefore easy for unscrupulous politicians and government power to control.

Could that happen in the U.S.? Think back to a recent president’s characterization of the American news media as “the enemy of the people.”

As Corcoran observes: “A society without truth is a scary place to live.”

To be sure, journalists in Mexico work in far higher danger zones than in the U.S. Thirteen journalists have been killed in Mexico thus far in 2022, according to a recent Los Angeles Times report. By comparison, 12 journalists have been killed in the United States in the past 30 years.

In Mexico, the phrase “trust no one” applies. Elected officials and government staffers often have made deals with the devil – dishonest politicians, drug cartels and government workers at every level with side incomes – and so have many journalists, reasoning that to do otherwise can get them killed.

Regina Martinez didn’t appear fazed by danger. Small in stature, the workaholic reporter never compromised her ideals, which ultimately got her killed, probably, Corcoran concludes, because she had gotten too close in reporting yet another story of government wrongdoing.

Corcoran and other Mexican journalists were not able to identify definitively what Martinez was working on when she was killed. But as the book makes clear, she would have unlimited topics from which to choose.

For example. earlier this month, The New York Times reported that hackers bored into Mexico’s defense ministry, revealing its “expanding influence over the civilian government, attempts to evade cooperation on a landmark human rights investigation and spying on journalists.”

Corcoran has done a masterful job in assembling the complicated story of Martinez’ life, work and murder. She had drawn in so many characters that it is hard to keep up with them – a chart of the recurring characters in the book is included; it contains 35 names.

In America, we’re conditioned by movies and television to expect the bad guys will be captured in the end, but that doesn’t happen here. Yes, the police arrested someone but Corcoran and other reporters in this story widely believe Martinez’ real killer remains free.

Perhaps not for long.

Corcoran now is part of a project training Mexican editors to guide investigative journalism and keep their reporters safe.

___

Jeff Rowe worked for the Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans, years before Katherine Corcoran joined The AP. Rowe and Corcoran have never met but did talk on the phone regarding some questions Rowe had about Corcoran’s book.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file photo, fountains erupt along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas. A...
Associated Press

Lawsuit: Vegas Strip resorts used vendor to fix hotel rates

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal lawsuit in Nevada is seeking class-action damages for countless hotel patrons who booked rooms in Las Vegas since 2019, alleging that most hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have used a third-party vendor to illegally fix prices. The complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas alleges […]
19 hours ago
Brittany Lampkin of Yazoo County, extolls the Mississippi Black Women's Roundtable legislative agen...
Associated Press

Maternal deaths and disparities increase in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Deaths from pregnancy complications have become more prevalent in Mississippi, and racial disparities in the health of those who give birth have widened in recent years, according to a report released Thursday by the state’s Department of Health. The Mississippi Maternal Mortality Report shows that the maternal mortality rate increased by […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Jury: $1M to Oregon woman told ‘I don’t serve Black people’

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury has awarded an Oregon woman $1 million in damages after finding she was discriminated against by a gas station employee who told her, “I don’t serve Black people.” The Multnomah County jury’s award this week to Portland resident Rose Wakefield, 63, included punitive damages of $550,000. Wakefield’s lawyer, Gregory […]
19 hours ago
FILE - The state of Texas execution chamber in Huntsville, Texas, is pictured on May 27, 2008. A gr...
Associated Press

Texas death row inmates sue over solitary confinement

HOUSTON (AP) — A group of death row inmates filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Texas prison system over its policy of mandatory and indefinite solitary confinement for all prisoners who are awaiting execution, saying it causes severe physical and psychological harm. The suit alleges that the policy severely restricts their access to human […]
19 hours ago
FILE - The Hasbro logo is seen on April 26, 2018, in New York. Toymaker Hasbro said Thursday, Jan. ...
Associated Press

Toymaker Hasbro laying off 1,000 to cut costs

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — Toymaker Hasbro said Thursday it is cutting about 1,000 jobs as part of moves announced last year to save up to $300 million annually by 2025. The nearly century-old Rhode Island-based company behind Monopoly, Play-Doh and My Little Pony toys said the layoffs amount to 15% of its global full-time workforce. […]
19 hours ago
Syringes with vaccines are prepared at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health P...
Associated Press

FDA’s advisers back plan to simplify COVID-19 vaccinations

The U.S. is poised to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like a yearly flu shot, a major shift in strategy despite a long list of questions about how to best protect against a still rapidly mutating virus. The Food and Drug Administration asked its scientific advisers Thursday to help lay the groundwork for switching to once-a-year […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Review: Reporter’s murder shows cost of pursuing the truth