Alfredo Corchado and Angela Kocherga were the protagonists of the second talk in the PEN series which took place on Jan 20th, 2015. You can listen to the full lecture here.
Alfredo Corchado is the Mexican Bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, where he has worked for over 20 years. Earlier, he reported for various news organizations including the Wall Street Journal. He was a 2010 Woodrow Wilson Center scholar in Washington and a 2011 visiting fellow at David Rockefeller Center at Harvard.
Corchado is best known for his non-fiction book, Midnight in Mexico. The book delves into the drug war and its intimidating and sometimes fatal impact on journalists.
Angela Korcherga is a broadcast and print veteran of the Mexican beat now with Gannett Broadcasting, based in El Paso, Texas. A journalism graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she has won many awards, including two Emmys for her drug war coverage, noted for its focus on the war’s impact on families on both sides of the border.
In his talk with Angela Kocherga for the PEN lecture series, Corchado asks himself the question if it’s still midnight In Mexico. He recognizes that many things have improved in key pockets of the country, but it is disturbing that issues like the lack of freedom of expression and the problem of drug cartels are still very much present in Mexico.
Corchado was born in Mexico, but he is an American citizen since 1988 and he recognizes that he has much more freedom of expression than his fellow journalists in Mexico who face censorship and threats.
According to the Commission of Human Rights, 97 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2012 and a dozen more have disappeared. In Veracruz, 10 journalists have been killed during Duarte’s administration.
Corchado talks about the challenges which journalists face every day in Mexico where there is a staggering 95% impunity.
The collaboration between American and Mexican reporters have often had positive effects, with Mexican journalists doing all the investigation and then sharing the results with their American counterparts to make sure that the story wouldn’t be silenced.
In his talk, Corchado said that this is the main reason why he decided to write Midnight in Mexico: he wanted to tell the story of his homeland which many Mexican journalists couldn’t tell.
He says: ‘in Mexico they kill you twice: first they assassinate you and then they strip you of your identity and reputation, spreading rumors.’
Angela Kocherga is one of the main characters described in Midnight in Mexico. Angela admits it was difficult to see so many details disclosed in the book, but Corchado was keen to tell the real story of Mexico, starting from personal stories to explain why people and reporters care about Mexico.