Aldea de Periodistas talks with The Red Note team following iHeart Awards nomination
The Mexican journalism website Aldea de Periodistas (Village of Journalists) spoke with director Craig Whitney, producer Estefania Bonilla Hernandez, and journalist Alicia Fernandez about their work on The Red Note in the wake of the podcast's nomination for Best Spanish Language Podcast at the 2020 iHeart Podcast Awards.
You can read a complete translation of Aldea de Periodistas's interview with Craig, Estefania, and Alicia below the fold.
The original Spanish version of the article is available on Aldea de Periodistas's website by clicking on the following link: ‘La Nota Roja’, un pódcast que cuenta la historia de muchas mujeres
‘The Red Note’, a podcast that tells the story of many women
By Village of Journalists Staff The Red Note is one of the five podcasts in Spanish nominated in the prestigious 2020 iHeart Awards. We spoke with director Craig Whitney, producer Estefanía Bonilla and journalist Alicia Fernández about this aural feature film that deals with femicides in Ciudad Juárez, the city Mexican that shares a border with Mexico.
The podcast is narrated by the journalist Lydia Cacho and tells about femicides since the 90s with an extensive, broadening view. Going back a quarter of a century for audiences to know and understand how this story of violence against women has grown. The Producer
"Femicides have existed for a lifetime," says Bonilla, a Colombian anthropologist and ethno-historian. "But Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua) was one of the pioneers in the legal registry of femicides."
In 1993, the authorities began to systematize the murders against women and to investigate them with a gender perspective, something that was expanding in the country. And if this could be achieved, it was thanks to the families of the victims, to the groups of mothers and fathers seeking justice for their daughters, says Bonilla. Throughout the ten chapters of the podcast, the audience can imagine the years at the beginning of the Free Trade Agreement with Salinas de Gortari, the boom of the maquiladoras on the border, the economic devaluation and the loss of three zeros to the coin. The social, economic and political implications of a troubled Mexico. All this, the producer points out, further marked the inequalities in the country and was a breeding ground for the structural violence of today, a ground for the murders of women to be increasingly increased. On average, 10 femicides occur in Mexico every day, and it is a conservative figure because there are homicides of women that have not been classified or investigated as femicide. The Director For the podcast director, it was the objective not to tell a single story or focus on one case. Craig Whitney says that's why they wanted to have the voices of victims and their families, and add the voices of investigators, analysts, specialized journalists, authorities and organizations. Have the testimonies, the facts, the social history and the perspective of specialists who have studied the phenomenon of femicides in the United States and Mexico. Whitney comes from the world of cinema and spent several years researching femicides in Mexico, read more than 50 books, he told us, and conducted a series of previous interviews. For the podcast, he wrote a script equivalent to 220 pages and did it in 60 days. "We were able to do it partly because of the research I already had, there was not much time to write, record, and edit the podcast."
The company behind the podcast is Imperative Entertainment & Blue Guitar. “It was very important to have the help of experts from the border. We are very happy to have the help of Alicia Fernández”, he says.
Alicia Fernández is a journalist with more than a decade of experience reporting in Ciudad Juárez. Her first reports as a journalism practitioner were speaking with people related to the Cotton Field, a case about the disappearance and murder of Claudia Ivette González, Esmeralda Herrera Monreal and Laura Berenice Ramos Monárrez in Chihuahua. A judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2009 points to the international responsibility of the Mexican State, the first judgment of its kind with a gender perspective, a milestone in women's access to justice. "I have had to see this evolution for many years, I am based in Ciudad Juarez, in 2017 I moved to Mexico City and I have already been back for the year," says the journalist. “Ciudad Juárez is a city where there are many problems and it is important to achieve a greater scope of a story. This podcast has that magnitude and encompasses many perspectives ”. Fernández conducted the interviews with the victims in Ciudad Juárez, with the authorities, leaders and journalists. Interview on the podcast with the editor Rocío Gallegos, of the native digital medium La Verdad de Juárez, who was her boss. And she interviews the reporter Blanca Carmona, her former partner, and the photojournalist Julián Cardona, who was her friend. There is a familiarity with the environment and the sources of information for the project because they have been part of theirs daily work.
Having a local journalist who has become an expert over time, who knows who the sources are and where the stories come from, is an invaluable asset of this podcast, the topics are not touched on above.
Fernández says that it has been an important experience to participate in this project because it is a "multicultural and professional" work team.
"This production is home made (made like at home)," she mentions fondly.
Craig is excited because they have had news and comments not only in Mexico and the United States, but also in other parts of Latin America and the world, such as Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Russia. It is a podcast that can be listened to in English and Spanish.
"The history of the podcast is very specific to Ciudad Juárez, but it is a subject of violence and gender, so it is universal," says Craig. And something similar says the producer Bonilla: "It is not only the story of a woman but that of many women." Because women and young people not only from Juárez share a series of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics with the victims mentioned in the documentary. Regarding the audiences, Bonilla says that actress Kate del Castillo was one of the most generous people with the team. She contacted her directly to tell them that he wanted to announce from his social networks when a new episode was released. "What you want, tell me," recalls the producer who told them. She took her at her word and every Tuesday on his networks, Del Castillo published it and his fan clubs as well.
“The intention was to demystify what happens in Juárez, it is one of the things we talked about. Many times by not taking the contexts and elements seriously you end up creating a very simplistic and reductionist question of what the problem is, and then you leave it alone in the drama, in the sensationalism and in the tabloidism. A very rare and very horrible thing ”, says the producer.
“In the podcast we are not only left with the story of the disappearance, we also tell about the dreams of the families and how they are trying to get ahead. We talk about activism, about how families are the ones who have achieved structural changes in the laws of Mexico. They were the ones who paved the way for those social conquests to be achieved”. For Fernández, it was important that the idea of Juárez not only be a perspective from violence, they sought to highlight the advances in organization and justice, resistance and the work of families. Regarding the work of the local press, the reporter points out that Juárez is a laboratory, but there journalists work with limited means that do not allow to delve into contexts or do extensive and joint work. "Thanks to this multicultural group, the support of the producer, plus this work that was done on foot (the one that she did), a little justice is done to journalism." It refers to the possibility of telling stories that tell more than the moment of the events, stories that allow us to go backwards or forwards in time to understand the circumstances that have triggered them. Journalism to understand.