Sandra Rodríguez, Mexico

2011 Knight International Journalism Award

Sandra Rodríguez Nieto
Investigative reporter
El Diario de Juárez, Mexico

Since 2003, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto has worked for El Diario, where she has aggressively written about local government corruption and the failures in the judicial system. She has focused on how a lack of education and jobs in the northern border city of Juárez drives thousands of youth into the world of crime and drugs.

She has also reported on the organizational structure of the competing drug cartels and their ability to evade law enforcement. Rodríguez created databases to analyze the murders in Juárez in 2008 and 2009. She found that most of the victims were teens and young people from the poorest neighborhoods—and not drug cartel members as Mexican officials claimed. Her analysis showed that 98 percent of the victims were unarmed and 97 percent of the killings were unsolved.

In 2010, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo presented her with the Reporteros Del Mundo award for her outstanding work covering a conflict zone. That same year, she made the Los Angeles Times’ Media Hero list for reporting in one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Rodríguez studied communication sciences at the Autonomous University of Chihuahua in Juárez and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso.