Courage in Journalism Award (WITH VIDEO)

Courage in Journalism Award (WITH VIDEO)

Adela Navarro Bello hungers for the truth. She is the recipient of the 2013 Frank McCulloch Courage in Journalism Award. The award was presented to Adela, general director, ZETA Magazine, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on Monday, September 16.

The awards ceremony took place in the Journalism 120, Media and Modern Life class. The Reynolds School shared the ceremony with its beginning students to inspire them with a sense of the possibilities of journalism, to show how journalism can make a difference in the world, and why it matters.

Students engaged in conversation with Adela, with one student asking Adela for advice on how to begin a career in journalism. Adela said, “Young journalists must have a strong conviction to make change. They must have a hunger for the truth.”

ZETA Magazine is a small weekly publication that has stood up to the drug cartels, organized crime and corrupt officials, at great personal cost. Adela’s colleagues have been killed, her mentor barely survived an assassination attempt, and her own life has been threatened. After all the violence, the founder considered closing the publication, but Adela and others persuaded him that the work must go on. And it has. They continue to investigate powerful officials and crime bosses, and call for justice.

When asked if the risk of the work overshadowed the reward Adela said, “I see that I can make a difference and contribute to a better society. Watching the police arrest and jail an innocent man that is then freed from jail as a result of an investigative story the ZETA team produced … that is the ultimate reward. This is what makes it all worthwhile.”

Adela’s work has been recognized around the world. The list of awards is too long to cover. Highlights include: an International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists; an award from the International Women’s Media Foundation; a Distinguished Service to Journalism award from the Missouri School of Journalism; and awards from press in Spain, Argentina and Italy.

Watch the award presentation and the question and answer session here:

Distinguished Mexican journalist receives Reynolds School award from Reynolds School of Journalism on Vimeo.

The first Frank McCulloch Courage in Journalism Award was given three years ago in 2011. It was created by McCulloch as a way to honor courageous journalists, who did their work in the face of great pressure, whether risk to themselves or great corporate or political pressure.

This award is named for Frank McCulloch, a native of Fernley, Nevada, a 1941 journalism graduate of our university, and one of the most distinguished journalists in US history.  Frank covered the Vietnam War, interviewed Presidents and world leaders and celebrities like the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes and the writers Hemingway and Steinbeck, served as an editor and executive of leading newspapers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

He was known for his courage and toughness as a reporter. In 1966 he reported that the US was preparing for a major buildup of the war in Vietnam, though the White House was denying that was the plan. President Lyndon Johnson was so enraged he tried to have Frank thrown out of Vietnam and removed from the press corps. Even Frank’s co-workers at Time magazine criticized him for going against the President. But history shows that Frank was exactly right. And he had the story first.

Past McCulloch Courage in Journalism award recipients include:

  • 2011: David Rhode, then of the New York Times, who while reporting in Afghanistan, was captured by the Taliban and spent eight months in captivity before escaping. David Rhode is now with Reuters.
  • 2012: Barbara Davidson of the LA Times for her Pulitzer Prize winning series, ‘Caught in the Crossfire,’ about innocent victims of street violence. 

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