Despite the dangers in Mexico, this blogger is willing to speak out

Article featuring Arzaba

By Angelica Jimenez–

Mexico is known for being one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

Killings, kidnappings and plotted murder attempts against journalists would easily dissuade even the most courageous individuals.

But blogger and journalism student Andrea Arzaba is committed to her dream.  Arzaba, 21, describes herself as a “journalist, peace activist, indigenous cultures’ lover and eager world traveler.”

Arzaba has worked for several international publications including LACVOX, UNICEF’S Latin American blog and the North American quarterly publication Dispatches International.

In 2008 Arzaba was selected to serve as a Mexican delegate for the World Youth Congress: Regeneration in Canada.

The following year she was a Mexican delegate of the Clinton Global Initiative in Austin, Texas, People to People’s Peace Camp in Jordan and for the International Day of Peace at the

Arzaba (bottom row, right) at TH!INK 3 Competition, September 2010

United Nations headquarters in New York City.  In September, she won the TH!NK 3: Developing World Blogging Competition.

Arzaba is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.   Her blog “One Lucky Life” looks at a wide ranges of topics in Mexico, written both in English and Spanish.

She has accomplished a great deal so early into her career.  Arzaba took time away from her studies and busy writing schedule to share her thoughts on the journalism field in Mexico and around the world.

Here is a question and answer with this international blogger.

Why did you decide to get into journalism?

AA: Since I was in primary school, I have always liked writing. I would often write stories and show it to my friends, my family. I also loved documentaries on television channels like National Geographic, and I would dream of working on people’s stories, trying to get their voices being heard by others.

I believe in the power of words to create consciousness in people, and by this means, get a positive change.  I started my Communications degree here in Mexico City in 2007, and since then I started contributing at the newspaper of my university.

You seem to tackle a wide variety of issues. How do you decide which topics to cover?

AA: I cover topics that I find interesting and/or that I believe are not well covered by other media, and that they should have more diffusion. Sometimes it depends on the publication I write for, some are specialized in development or climate change, so I try to find subjects that refer to this issues.

I also write about what happens around me.  If I happen to have a trip somewhere or if I hear a story about something, I try to investigate more on it and relate it with different themes.

Arzaba discovering Spain, July 2010

Congratulations on being a winner of the TH!NK 3: Developing World Blogging Competition. Can you tell our readers more about the competition and how you got involved? Are you attending COP16 (Climate Change Conference)? Do you find any restrictions on the freedom of press/blogging in Mexico?

AA: About the competition I got an invitation to participate at a blogging competition called TH!NK 3 organized by the European Journalism Center. They read some of my articles published in Global Voices, and I got an invitation to apply in this way.

Finally I got selected, with around 100 bloggers from all over the world.  From March 24 through August 31, we had to publish different posts on developing world issues in order to win one of the several journalistic expedition trips around the year.

I posted almost 30 articles and won a trip to cover the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit, next to two other bloggers- Larissa Rankovic from Serbia and Luan Galani from Brazil.

I am not sure yet if I will be attending COP 16 with the European Journalism Center, but I will know in a few weeks.

And finally about the restrictions in press/blogging in Mexico, I do not know if you have heard that currently Mexico is the most dangerous place to be a journalist in the world!  Sadly, there is an existing self-censorship among journalists, as it is very dangerous to cover subjects related with drug dealing issues and corruption in the country.

What are some of the current major news stories in Mexico?

AA: Drug dealing issues, COP 16 as a new opportunity to tackle environmental problems, Tabasco and Veracruz floodings, politicians who might become candidates for the next presidential election.

Are there journalists/bloggers in Mexico you admire or read regularly? If so, who are they, and why do you read them over others?

AA: I admire Lydia Cacho and Denise Dresser. Another important journalist in Mexico is Carmen Aristegui. I feel these women usually talk about different issues related to Mexico and government or international affairs. They say what is happening in Mexico without showing any fear, and they make me reflect on what is happening in the country.

How do you feel your blogging affect public affairs in Mexico?

AA: I feel that by writing in English I can get a bigger international audience, and by this means inform them about what is happening in my country.

By blogging, in English and Spanish, I try to raise awareness on different subjects, and maybe in this way it will reach somebody that will have the power to change the problem!

What kind of feedback do you get from readers?

AA: All types, I get people, most of the time, who agree on the issues I write, but sometimes I also get negative comments, and not all of them constructive ones. In the end, I just write what I see and what is the reality. I guess it is impossible to write about something everybody agrees with.

Arzaba blogging from Istanbul, August 2010

What’s your dream job?

AA: There are so many things I would love to do. One of them would be to work as a journalist for a magazine or a newspaper covering on development or culture issues. And maybe one day, starting my own publication!

Also working for an organization like UNICEF or the United Nations in general. And well…another dream would be to write a novel!

 

To read some of Arzaba’s work, check out these blogs from the TH!NK 3 Competition:

Urban Music: A way to escape poverty

Desert’s Unspoken Words: Western Sahara’s Conflict

Agriculture through indigenous art

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