Mexican reporters tackle human trafficking beat in week-long course

by Christine Murray
Tuesday, 30 July 2019 15:14 GMT

Kieran Guilbert, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Editor for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, chats with participants. Mexico City / July 2019

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A group of 14 journalists from across Mexico took part in a five-day workshop in the capital in July on how to report on human trafficking and modern slavery.

The reporters publish in states from the U.S. border down to the southern tip of the country in national newspapers like El Universal, broadcasters such as Grupo Multimedios, regional weeklies like Zeta magazine and many others.

Over the week the classes established basic concepts, Mexico’s legal framework, the data available as well as a multi-day writing exercise to work on sourcing, structure and reporting strategies.

The participants shared their diverse experiences and challenges reporting in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. There were lively debates about the role the media should play in society and how to report sensitively on such a difficult topic.

A series of guest speakers came to share their experiences with the group, including Jan-Albert Hootsen from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), director of non-profit Anthus Mariana Wenzel and award-winning journalist Nayeli Roldán who shared investigation techniques.

A highlight of the week was a panel discussion – ‘Reporting Sensitively on Human Trafficking in Mexico’ – moderated by Christine Murray, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Mexico Trafficking Correspondent, that saw more than 80 guests attend including  academics, local journalists, civil society representatives. The discussion featured four high-profile speakers: Mónica Salazar, head of the NGO Dignificando el Trabajo (DITRAC), Mario Luis Fuentes, human trafficking chair at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), investigative journalist Alejandra Guillén, and Stephen Birtwistle, manager of the forced and child labor program for the C&A Foundation in Mexico.

On the final day, each journalist presented a story idea related to trafficking, and seven of them will receive a mentor and travel expenses from the Thomson Reuters Foundation to help get the piece published.

The Mexico City course was one of a series on reporting on migration, trafficking and slavery that are being run around the world this year by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in partnership with the C&A Foundation.

There are 8 courses in total throughout in 2019, including in Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Thailand and Britain.