College of Liberal Arts

NPR's Burnett Moderates "The War Next Door: Reporting Mexico, Drugs and the Border"

Thursday Oct 7, 2010 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM | The Quadrangle Room in the Texas Union on The University of Texas at Austin campus.

NPR correspondent John Burnett, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin in 1978, will lead a panel discussion about reporting Mexico's drug war -- how journalists are coping with one of the most dangerous assignments in the world. Panelists include:

  • Cecilia Balli, University of Texas at Austin anthropology assistant professor who has written about the border for Texas Monthly and Harper's magazines
  • Javier Garza, who earned a master's degree in journalism from the university in 2002 and is editor of El Siglo de Torreón, the newspaper of Torreón, Mexico
  • Tracy Wilkinson, Mexico City bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times

The war between the drug cartels and the Mexican government has also become a war against that country's press corps in recent years. Since 2006 more than 30 Mexican journalists have been killed or kidnapped as the cartels have sought to dictate news coverage and ensure the news media are either complicit or silent.

The discussion will focus on the dangers and obstacles journalists face in seeking to uncover the truth in such a brutal, no-holds-barred conflict and how the bravest are seeking to do their jobs while staying alive when they themselves become not just witnesses but targets.

Mary Alice Davis, who died in 2004 from ovarian cancer, is remembered as a remarkable writer who championed the role of journalism in a democracy. She wrote for the Daily Texan as an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin and later wrote for the Austin American-Statesman and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The Mary Alice Davis Distinguished Lectureship was created in 2005 by the Davis family and brings notable journalists to campus to discuss the role of journalism in society. Past lecturers include Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins, Jim Lehrer, Michele Norris and Dan Rather.

This lecture is free and open to the public thanks to the Mary Alice Davis Distinguished Lectureship and the School of Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A from the audience. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

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