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Veteran journalist Javier Valdez killed in Mexico's Sinaloa
17 May 2017, 01:51 | Kara Nash
At the launch of his book in 2016, Valdez had said, "Being a journalist is like being on a blacklist".
It became a key source of news about the drug war in a state where other media self-censored for fear of violence.
Mexico ranks third in the world for the number of journalists killed, after Syria and Afghanistan, according to media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Valdez was a well-known reporter who also worked as a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada.
Valdez' brother, Rafael, issued a statement to the Agence France-Presse, where Valdez was a contributor for more than a decade, according to The Atlantic. Last year, 11 journalists were killed there overall.
But the killing fanned a wave of anger at the authorities, with rights groups saying corrupt officials are preventing journalists' killers from being punished. Another 50 have been killed during the same time period for reasons not yet confirmed.
The killings come just a day after 100 armed assailants suspected of being associated with the Michoacana family cartel attacked and robbed seven national and global journalists covering a security operation in the state of Guerrero, on the highway leading to Iguala, the town made famous by the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college in 2014.
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He compiled much of his reporting into several books, the most recent of which, Narcoperiodismo, was published late past year.
"Drug trafficking there is a way of life", Valdez said in an October interview with Rompeviento TV. So I asked him why he risked his life and he replied: 'It is something I like doing, and someone has to do it.
Hootson described Valdez as a warm, friendly man, well-liked by other journalists who frequently sought his help to navigate and understand the complex, risky state. "And in that sense, it's a huge loss for everybody".
In 2011, the Committee to Project Journalists chose Valdez as the recipient for its International Press Freedom Award. It tells the stories of Mexican journalists who have been victims of crimes. It added that even when there are convictions, they are often limited to the immediate killer and do not clarify the motive. "This lack of accountability perpetuates a climate of impunity that leaves journalists open to attack".
News of his slaying shook Mexico's journalism community, already alarmed by a spike in attacks against the media this year.
Last Wednesday, the federal Attorney General's Office replaced the head of its division responsible for investigating journalist killings.
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