No amount of security training can make up for a lack of professional solidarity. By Frank Smyth
No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series of clear containers are filled with dark blades of grass cut from the campus lawn where each had spilled his blood.
After the Salvadoran online newsmagazine El Faro exposed a secret government deal with criminal gangs last month, its staff faced repercussions that illustrate the new and complicated risks facing journalists worldwide. El Faro's report, which said the government provided more lenient treatment of imprisoned gangsters in exchange for the groups' agreement to slow down their murderous practices, addressed one of the most sensitive topics facing journalists today--crime and its many interconnections with government.
"El Salvador is committed to guaranteeing the safety of El Faro and its staff so they can continue their investigative work," David Rivas, spokesman for President Mauricio Funes Cartagena, told CPJ in a recent phone conversation. The government's pledge came after groundbreaking reporting by the digital newspaper about secret negotiations in which local gangs, known as Maras, said they would limit murders in exchange for official concessions, like having imprisoned gang members transferred to lower-security prisons.
New York, March 21, 2012--The editor of the Salvadoran news website El Faro says his staff members have been followed after the site reported on a criminal network involving politicians. In addition, he said a senior government official told the staff last week that gang members were angered by coverage of alleged ties between law enforcement officials and local gangs, and might retaliate.
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