Despite the low salaries and the dangers that come with being a reporter in one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the Americas, some Mexican female journalists continue working and thriving in the profession.
In this post, we introduce you to four of these brave female journalists. With anecdotes about migration, politics, dreams, and gender equality, these reporters have given us a glimpse into their lives to see what it's like to be a female journalist in Mexico City.
Nicole, a journalist born in Germany, moved to Mexico City when she was starting her bachelor's degree. Today, she works for a non-governmental organization during the day, and at night she works as a freelance journalist covering mainly food and travel. She also started her own recipe blog, called La cocinera con prisa (A Cook in a Hurry).
She had her first encounter with journalism at age 12, when she designed a magazine with a friend. Nicole explains that her friend would look for pictures in magazines, while she wrote imaginary stories for each image. “I still keep that magazine with me,” she says proudly.
Nicole says that Mexico City has given her the same opportunities given to any man: “I was born in a generation and within cultures in which I no longer question whether I can vote, study, or practice my profession any differently than men do. I am fortunate to have German and Mexican roots, and [my parents] are very open and supportive with my career.”
For her, the main problem journalism faces is low pay: “Some people need to understand that if they want someone who is dedicated and that has good experience, she or he should be treated as such, getting paid at the right time and [the right] amount. It is a profession that requires commitment and self-sacrifice, and sadly, it is not well paid.”
Follow Nicole on Twitter: @NicMedgenberg
“I cannot say I've ever been subjected to any discrimination or preferential treatment for being a woman. I believe it has more to do with the consciousness of my own rights. I would not allow that to happen,” Elia replies when asked if she's been treated differently as a female reporter.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Elia works as a freelance journalist. She starts her day between 4:30 and 5 a.m., when she dedicates 30 minutes to reading a book of her interest (she does not have time later). She then reads the news and prepares her daily schedule. At 10 a.m., she is already interviewing people and investigating possible stories. She stops working at 10 p.m.
Elia always dreamed about being a journalist, and as a young girl she associated the career with far-away lands. During high school, she worked in her school's newspaper, and she got her first job as a journalist at age 18.
In her work with the network Periodistas de a Pie, she writes with a focus on human rights and gender: “I always prefer to write from the perspective of equal rights for all, and I emphasize gender when it is clear that there has been a violation of women's rights.” In her organization, the writers opt to document not only complaints, but also success stories; they break from the tradition of highlighting victims and misfortunes, and instead they empower citizens with stories of triumph.
Elia declares herself a feminist; although she is not convinced of all feminist theories, they are a part of her personal and professional growth. For her, the biggest challenge that journalists, both male and female, face in Mexico today are low salaries and labor conditions, “which make it difficult to do real investigations.”
Follow Elia on Twitter: @eliabaltazar
Originally from Toluca, a city 40 minutes from Mexico City, Sandra is the editor of the music and technology section at Swagger. A normal day for her in the newsroom consists of editing the articles for the website. She also investigates stories to suggest to journalists on her team.
“I am not a big fan of covering music scandals, things related to Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, but our audience is very interested in that and I have to write about it,” she confesses. Sandra wants to continue her career by reporting on sports. She is a big fan of the local football team Diablos Rojos, but she knows it might take more time to pursue a career as a woman in that field.
Sandra knew she wanted to be a journalist since she was in high school. She says she always wrote for herself, and when she was 16 she started to feel interested in writing for others. For more than six years, she has been traveling every day from Toluca to Mexico City and back, and even if she doesn't live in the city, she says she feels “from the D.F.,” and there is no other place she would rather work as a journalist.
“The greatest challenge I see for journalists in Mexico City is that sometimes they forget to be truly objective—at least as objective as they can be. Journalism in Mexico will not improve if the ego of journalists keeps on growing,” she concludes.
Follow Sandra on Twitter: @sandiapolinar
“I always try to balance the voices I write about. If I have interviewed four men, I try to look for the same number of women. I like to bring justice to my texts in that way,” Daliri explains.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Daliri comes from a family that has worked in the circus industry for generations. She is the only journalist in her family, and she feels proud of her career path. Daliri has lived in many neighborhoods in Mexico City, from San Rafael to La Roma, from La Tabacalera to Buena Vista. She is in love with Mexico City, and even when she travels to other cities to study, she confesses that she will always come back to the D.F.
“I am a woman who likes to experiment with her work. I want to try new things, and I am always looking for new stories, new voices to represent.” Sandra has written several stories about tactics of indigenous resistance from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.
For Daliri, trying to bring out an equal number of male and female voices in her writing is her contribution to gender equality. “I am personally not a feminist, but I always want to write about women in my stories,” she says. One of her favorite and most recent stories looks at daughters of politicians who are also working in politics, an investigation she pursued to explore a “minority of a minority.”
“There are differences between men and women when we talk about journalism. Sometimes some men think [women] can't do good reporting, but you should not let those comments affect your work. These people are ignorant,” she emphasizes. For Daliri, her work as a journalist is her passion, and that there's nothing else she'd rather be doing.
Follow Daliri on Twitter: @Dal_air
Andrea Arzaba is a freelance journalist and media creative who lives in Mexico City. Today she works as a translator and a blogger for IJNet. She is also the founder of the blog on gender equality thesunflowerpost.org. Andrea is passionate about traveling, culture, social justice, and international affairs. Follow her on twitter at @andrea_arzaba