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Keep Houston Press Free
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Killing the Messenger: the Numbers

This is a sidebar to the story posted yesterday on the murder of Brad Will.

Brad Will is the latest victim in a continuum of U.S. reporters who have traveled to Mexico to document the struggle for justice here -- and perhaps assuage their personal demons -- and have wound up in a shallow grave or on the receiving end of an assassin's bullet, under enigmatic circumstances.

One of the first was Ambrose Bierce, author of "The Devil's Dictionary," who came to Mexico on assignment for the Hearst papers in 1913 to ride with Pancho Villa and cover his revolution. "The Old Gringo," as Carlos Fuentes dubbed him in the novel of the same name, disappeared at the Battle of Ojinaga, and his bones long ago blew to dust out there in the northern desert.

Will made other lists too. He was one of 26 souls to die on the barricades of Oaxaca from May to January 2006-7 and the ninth reporter working in Mexico to have been killed or disappeared during the last year, most under the guns of the narco gangs. Forty have been slain since 2000, and 63 in the past two decades, according to the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA).

Reporters Without Borders lists 81 confirmed kills of journalists around the world during 2006. That represents a 20% increase over 2005 (63) and is the highest since 1994, when revolutions were roaring in Sri Lanka and Algeria. Killing the messenger is becoming more and more popular. -- John Ross

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