In many of the mainstream reports of the migrant caravan with thousands of people wending its way to the United States through Mexico, media focuses on mothers and children and stories about the people just wanting a better life in the United States. And there is no doubt that that’s what most of them want. But many in mainstream media have disparaged any concerns legitimately raised about the caravan, seeking to cast those concerns as somehow invalid or as somehow indicative of being against immigrants.
But check out the warnings their own organization is giving journalists who may be going to cover the caravan.
Here’s what the Committee to Protect Journalists is advising reporters.
Thousands of migrants that are part of a caravan that departed San Pedro Sula in Honduras for the U.S. on October 13, 2018, are currently in southern Mexico. As the caravan attempts to cross Mexico, the risk increases for any journalists accompanying it.
Based on previous caravans, numbers may dwindle and individuals may take different routes to get to the U.S. However, migrants can be vulnerable to criminals and cartels–who kidnap, extort, and force vulnerable groups into prostitution and illegal activities–as well as law enforcement and migration officials. Human traffickers known as “Coyotes” are likely to be in close proximity to the caravan. The risk of physical violence and rape is high for migrants. Journalists accompanying them, particularly the local press, are potentially also exposed.
Do tell? That description is more honest than many mainstream reports.
Too bad many of the journalists they’re advising are not repeating that same concern in their own reports.
At least one journalist has been injured during clashes between migrants and officials. A Twitter post said that Mexican journalist Maria de Jesús Peters was injured during a clash between migrants and the Mexican federal police on a border bridge between Guatemala and Mexico on October 19, 2018.
Journalists should be aware of the potential for clashes at the U.S. border between migrants and border authorities. Journalists should weigh the benefit of bringing personal protective equipment, which can be bulky to transport. Journalists without protective equipment who are covering civil disorder should carefully consider their positioning. For more information about covering protests, consult CPJ’s guides.
Betting that most people haven’t heard about the journalist being injured. Or that many hadn’t heard about migrants attacking police in “clashes.” And it sure sounds like the CPL anticipates more people not being peaceful when they get to the border.
Journalists, don’t illegally ride trains as migrants do because it’s illegal and you may get attacked when you do so.
Mexican authorities have attempted to prevent migrants from using a freight train known as La Bestia. Mexican police have strictly enforced a ban on climbing on trains, and there is increased police presence near railway stations or where trains traditionally slow down, according to reports. Any journalist attempting to ride a train should be aware that this is a high risk activity with the potential of injury or even death. Riding the train for long periods increases the risk of being preyed on by criminals who target migrants. In recent years, freight trains have derailed in areas where mudslides are common, resulting in injuries and a number of deaths.
Yes, likely most of the people just want a better life. But they’ve already shown a willingness not to go about the process to get her in the right way, legally, and entered Mexico illegally. And they’re wanting to jump ahead of the others who are
So here’s the thing.
Yes, likely most of the folks just want a better life. But they’ve already shown a willingness to break the law to get to the U.S. illegally or not, to illegally enter Mexico, and are jumping the line over people doing it the right way to get here.
And when you do that you can’t properly vet people as one should when you do things appropriately, the legal way.
But obviously, the CPJ sees the dangers and is reporting the concerns and dangers to the journalists.
So why are journalists painting a mainly rosy picture and not also reporting these same dangers to the public?