Columbia, Mo. (March 3, 2006) — Alejandro Junco de la Vega, the publisher of El Norte in Mexico, will receive the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism for his courageous leadership in reforming journalism in that country.
Junco will present his Master Class on “Civic Journalism: A Different Approach” from 2-2:50 p.m., on Tuesday, March 7, in Middlebush Auditorium. A formal presentation of the Honor Medal will be made at a luncheon on that same day at Reynolds Alumni Center on the University of Missouri campus.
Junco has built one of the most powerful newspaper conglomerates in Latin America, with dailies in Mexico’s three largest cities: Mexico City (Reforma), which today ranks number one among Mexico’s elite readership, Guadalajara (Mural) and Monterrey (El Norte).
Aside from his accomplishments in establishing an independent press, Junco also has opened greater access to public information by promoting access laws.
In 1990, El Norte diversified its services to include the delivery of electronic information to computer subscribers through his company, Infosel, which also provides real-time financial information to the investment planners in Mexico and Wall Street.
Grupo Reforma, as his seven daily newspaper publishing group is known, has been the most instrumental factor in the evolution of journalism in the country in the last 30 years.
Junco was born in 1948, in Monterrey, Mexico, and was educated both in Mexico and the United States, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 1969. Junco then returned to Mexico to find that his family-owned newspapers were struggling financially and that the news reporting in his country was biased, corrupt and inaccurate.
It was in 1973 that he launched his career as a political watchdog by becoming the publisher of El Norte, which he built into one of the most influential and innovative newspaper conglomerates in Latin America. To accomplish this, Junco barred reporters from taking bribes and hired one of his former UT journalism professors to train his reporters in the fundamentals of news reporting and ethics.
Under Junco’s leadership, El Norte grew from 17 local reporters to more than 400 nationwide, and the quality of journalism helped transform the No. 2 local newspaper into a No. 1 national chain of newspapers with dailies in Mexico’s three largest cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Despite governmental bans, union boycotts and increasing danger to his journalists, Junco and his defiant editorial practices raised the quality of Mexican journalism and increased public awareness and expectation. According to Junco, “There’s been a big push throughout Latin America for more democratic processes and a free press, and we’ve raised the level a little.”
In 2000 Junco received the University of Texas at Austin’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities from Michigan State University.
The Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism has been awarded by the Missouri School of Journalism since 1930. Recipients of the Honor Medal are selected by faculty of the School annually. The medals are presented to newspapers, periodicals, editors or publishers of newspapers and periodicals, or persons engaged in the practice of Journalism for distinguished service to the field of Journalism.
Others receiving a 2005 Missouri Honor Medal are KHOU-TV’s “The Defenders,” Angus McDougall, a photographer innovator; Lisa Myers, senior investigative correspondent for NBC News; Paul Steiger, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal; and Carol H. Williams, president, chief executive officer and chief creative officer of Carol H. Williams Advertising.
Updated: April 8, 2020