Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Breaking: Julio Scherer, 1926-2015

The leading light in Mexican journalism throughout the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st died this morning at the age of 88.
    Julio Scherer García founded the weekly Proceso magazine in 1976, and it immediately became a consistent challenger of the governing and economic elite at a time when it was neither common nor entirely safe to be one.
    Well after Scherer stepped down as editor (though not as chairman of the board) just before the dawn of the 21st century, Proceso sticks firmly to its leftward convictions and still needs to be read with filters set to high, as all publications should be. But its high standards and the thoroughness of its reporting, not to mention its refusal to give in to the reader-friendly trivialities of it competitors, make for a salutary antidote to the flaccidity of other newsweeklies.
    Scherer’s relentlessly critical approach had earned him enemies, of course, but his integrity and professionalism usually kept the conflicts from getting personal. Among those who tweeted condolences today is President Enrique Peña Nieto, target No. 1 of Proceso’s journalistic artillery since the day he took office.
    Historian Enrique Krauze, with whom Proceso has publicly feuded hard and often, wrote: “With much pain I learned of the death of Julio Scherer, the greatest journalist of the 20th century in Mexico. I loved him very much and I will miss him always.”
    There’s no reason to doubt that he was completely sincere.
    Scherer’s death comes barely more than a month after the passing of Vicente Leñero, his friend, colleague and fellow Proceso board member.  Leñero was among the many who followed Scherer out the door of the daily Excelsior in 1976 when Scherer quit as editor-in-chief rather than bend to pressure from the Echeverría administration. (For more on that landmark event, click on the December 4, 2014 post on this site.)
    Proceso appears to be in good hands and should continue to enlighten and annoy readers without missing a beat. But it's lost a guiding voice, and so has Mexico.

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