Editor's Notes

Journalists and murder
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tredmond@sfbg.com

John Ross has always known, as he says in this week's cover story, that there's a bullet out there with his name on it. Reporters who aren't afraid to go where the news takes them, people who want to let the world know about deep injustice in parts of the world where most of us would never dare tread, risk their lives every day.

Brad Will was one of those people. He was an activist reporter in the grand old tradition, carrying a used video camera all over Latin America, drawn to the most explosive flash points, seeking images and stories. Often he paid his own way and posted his work for no wage on places like Indymedia.

He arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico, in the fall of 2006 to cover a violent strike by radical teachers. Will didn't have the third-world street smarts that John has developed over a quarter of a century, but he was fearless — and when the bullet finally came for him, he filmed his own murder. John this week tells the story of how Will's killers escaped prosecution — and he reminds us how popular it's becoming to kill the messenger.

Apparently, you don't have to be in a Mexican gunfight to fall victim to that sentiment either. Last week, the editor of the Oakland Post was assassinated; police now say the murderer was a worker at Your Black Muslim Bakery, an organization known for past violence that Chauncey Bailey was investigating.

Reporters in this country tend to think we're pretty safe from the sorts of retributive violence common in other parts of the world. It's rare that an American journalist is killed at home because somebody didn't want a story told. But times are changing; more reporters are facing prison at the hands of the authorities, and now at least one local writer is dead, quite possibly on account of what he had to say.

Scary shit. *