"Reportero" airs 9 p.m. Jan. 7 on KCOS TV in El Paso and KRWG TV in Las Cruces
"Reportero," a moving portrait of endangered journalists in the Tijuana, Mexico, area will air tonight on PBS stations. The Point of View (POV) special highlights the work of reporters and photographers of the legendary newspaper "Zeta" in the border city of Tijuana. It focuses most of all on Sergio Haro, a longtime journalist, who along with others on the Zeta staff, decided (and still decide) to report on the corruption and violence perpetrated by powerful organized crime interests in that region. Jesus Blancornelas, co-founder of Zeta, which is unrelated to the drug cartel by the same name, died from an illness several years after surviving a horrific shooting attack. Co-founder Hector Felix Miranda, was assassinatedin 1988. The film by Bernardo Ruiz is riveting and disturbing at once. Interviews of the weekly newspaper's staff demonstrate reporters, editors and photographers who are first-rate journalists who serve a community ravaged by brutal drug dealers, crooked politicians and corrupt police. Their journalism aims to inform and expose. Every weekly edition of Zeta, in the tradition of Mexico's Proceso magazine, names names, and presents detailed accounts of the allegations against a sordid cast of news makers. Photographs are often included in this barefaced publication, which in most places, may invite retaliation. The film offers an intimate portrayal of Haro's life and work, and the tenacity that he and his co-workers bring to their work each day in a city and country where justice is rare. Viewers learn, among other things, that Zeta's staff seeks to maintain an operation that is truly independent, and as free of conflicts of interests as possible. The paper also prints its editions in the United States to prevent sabotage and censorship. Avid readers seek the paper each week because they respect its content. They also know that the staff is known for its integrity, a hallmark of co-founders Blancornelas and Felix Miranda. In effect, Zeta and its staff set the standard for news publications anywhere in the world, including the United States. Its staff decided long ago that this is what they do, and the difficult challenges they face each day, including the threat of death, will deter them from their jobs. The film does an excellent job of portraying that not everything in Mexico is corrupt and that not everyone is corruptible. Kudos to PBS for bringing this important story to television audiences. The film was co-produced by Quiet Pictures, LLC and Independent Television Service; it was underwritten in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. POV spokeswoman Amanda Nguyen said the special will air tonight (Jan. 7) at 9 p.m. on KCOS in El Paso and KRWG in Las Cruces, N.M. More than 50 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2008. Despite the government creating a special prosecutor to investigate the deaths, most of the murders remain unsolved. In the state of Chihuahua, which includes Juarez, more than a dozen journalists have been killed or disappeared under suspicious circumstances since the 1990s.