Inside The Cartel Project: The Power of Collaborative Investigative Journalism

With Laurent Richard, Dana Priest and Jorge Carrasco
Moderated by Lynette Clemetson


The Eisendrath Symposium on International Reporting

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

12:30 p.m. ET

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In 2012 Mexican journalist Regina Martinez was murdered in her home. She had been reporting on the links between drug cartels, public officials and thousands of individuals who had mysteriously disappeared. Eight years later, her investigations were published simultaneously around the world as The Cartel Project.

Forbidden Stories, a nonprofit newsroom created by Laurent Richard during his year as a Knight- Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, organized the project, secretly bringing together an international network of journalists dedicated to continuing the work of Martinez. Sixty reporters from 18 countries, followed her leads to expose a global network of Mexican drug cartels and their political connections around the world.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the global investigation, join the journalists who made it happen. Laurent Richard of Forbidden Stories, Dana Priest of The Washington Post and Jorge Carrasco, editor of Mexican news magazine Proceso, and a longtime friend of Regina Martinez, will share how collaborative journalism can keep alive the work of reporters who are silenced by threats, censorship or death.

The Eisendrath Symposium on International Reporting honors Charles R. Eisendrath, former director of Wallace House, and his lifelong commitment to international journalism.

More about The Cartel Project

About the speakers
Jorge Carrasco is a director of Proceso, an influential independent weekly in Mexico. Before joining Proceso 15 years ago, he was a reporter for El Economista and head of the UN Secretary General’s press office for Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Dana Priest has been a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Post for more than 30 years. She is the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, an Emmy and two George Polk Awards, among other prizes. She is the author of two best-selling books and the Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Maryland.

Laurent Richard is a French award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer and founder of Forbidden Stories, a network of investigative journalists whose mission is to continue and publish the work of other journalists facing threats, prison, or murder. Richard was a 2017 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he developed Forbidden Stories.

About the moderator
Lynette Clemetson is the Charles R. Eisendrath Director of Wallace House, home of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists at the University of Michigan.

About the translator
Ana Avila is an investigative journalist from Mexico, a 2020 Knight-Wallace Fellow and the current Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan.

Knight Foundation is a co-sponsor of this event.

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

Michigan Radio is a co-sponsor of this event.

The Threat to Global Press Freedom: Censorship, Imprisonment and Murder

Vanessa Gezari, Itai Anghel, Leonard Niehoff and Jawad Sukhanyar
Clockwise: Vanessa Gezari, Itai Anghel, Leonard Niehoff and Jawad Sukhanyar

Knight-Wallace Fellows Vanessa Gezari, Itai Anghel and Jawad Sukhanyar with media law scholar Leonard Niehoff at the Eisendrath Symposium

March 26, 2019 | 3 p.m.
Rackham Amphitheatre, fourth floor
915 Washington Street, Ann Arbor

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On stage with the foreign correspondents of Wallace House at the Eisendrath Symposium

Harmful rhetoric towards journalists and the press casts doubt about the future of a free press and the safety of reporters. This was evident following the murders of five staff members at the Capital Gazette and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As democratic nations fall short in protecting press freedom, what are the implications for journalists of all nations? In alarming numbers, reporters around the world are persecuted, jailed, exiled and even killed for exposing the truth.

Knight-Wallace journalists Vanessa Gezari of The Intercept, Itai Anghel of Israeli TV, and Jawad Sukhanyar of The New York Times discuss how threats and state censorship impact their work. In a discussion led by the University’s media law and First Amendment scholar Professor Leonard Niehoff, they share their experiences reporting from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa and discuss what can be done to protect journalists and foster press freedom around the world.

The Eisendrath Symposium honors Charles R. Eisendrath, former director of Wallace House, and his lifelong commitment to international journalism.


About the Speakers

Vanessa Gezari is a 2012 Knight-Wallace Fellow and The Intercept’s national security editor. She has reported from four continents, nine countries, and many corners of the United States for outlets such as the Washington Post, Slate and the New Republic. She is the author of “The Tender Soldier,” about an experimental U.S. military program and its use in Afghanistan, and an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School.

Itai Anghel is a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellow and a correspondent and documentary filmmaker for UVDA, a weekly investigative current affairs and documentary program on Israeli TV, Channel 2, where he also worked as a senior foreign affairs correspondent. Previously, he was a correspondent and chief editor of foreign affairs at Galatz (GLZ) Radio Station. He received the Sokolov Award, the highest award for outstanding journalism in Israel, in 2017, and he is a five-time recipient of the Best TV Documentary in Israel award from the Israeli Forum of Documentary Filmmakers.

Jawad Sukhanyar is a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellow and a reporter for The New York Times in Afghanistan. He joined the Times in 2011 and is now the longest serving reporter in the paper’s Kabul bureau. Sukhanyar covers human rights and women’s issues and also covered the 2014 disputed Afghan presidential election. He worked as a researcher on a book about a couple who escaped an Afghan honor killing for the author Rod Nordland. Until 2011, he was a freelance reporter and researcher for various foreign news organizations. He also served as interpreter and researcher on a biography of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai for the author Bette Dam.

About the Moderator
Leonard Niehoff  is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, where he teaches courses in Media Law, First Amendment, and the history of banned books, among other things. He is the author of more than one-hundred articles, many in the field of free speech, and is currently at work on a book about the First Amendment. He has also practiced media and First Amendment law for over thirty years, representing numerous print publications, broadcasters, online media, and journalists. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.


Free and open to the public.

This event is produced with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Michigan Radio and the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies are co-sponsors of the event.