“In Mexico journalists are becoming an endangered species,” said Adela Navarro Bello as she stood on stage in New York to accept a Courage in Journalism Award from The International Women’s Media Foundation.

Navarro Bello is general director of Zeta, a newsmagazine in Tijuana, Mexico, that has continued to cover the drug cartels despite the fact that two editors at the magazine have been killed in recent years. Zeta's co-founder, Hector Felix Miranda, was murdered in 1988 and in 2004, co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was shot and killed with his two children in the car.

Yet Navarro Bello still refuses to back down. “If you don’t report what is happening you are an accomplice to these people,” she said. “I’ve been poisoned by the truth. I can’t stop.”

Parisa Hafezi

Two other journalists were honored along with Navarro Bello: Parisa Hafezi, Bureau Chief for Reuters in Iran, and Chiranuch Premchaiporn of Thailand who faces 20 years in prison for criticizing the monarchy on her website, Prachatai.

Hafezi, a single mother, was abducted as she left her office and taken to an unmarked building where she was interrogated. She has been beaten with electric batons by riot police as she covered the protests in the streets of Tehran. “In Iran life is tough enough for a woman,” she explained. “Even more so for a female journalist.”

There are nights, Hafezi admitted, that she sits with her bags packed ready to be detained after writing a critical story.

Premchaiporn’s website was targeted for censorship by the Thai government. Police raided her office and seized her computer equipment after interrogating her for hours.

“The government singled me out to make an example,” said Premchaiporn, according to her biography in the IWMF brochure. “They should know there are other ways around this- we will continue writing.”

The International Women's Media Foundation also gave its Lifetime Achievement Award to Kate Adie, the BBC’s first female chief news correspondent. Adie has reported from Afghanistan, Tiananmen Square and Bosnia and has endured sniper fire, bombings and sleeping in graves.

Adie’s advice to women journalists just starting out: “Don’t come into it for the fame and fortune. Do something where you find you wake up in the morning and say, ‘Look what I’m going to do.’”

(Photos © The International Women's Media Foundation)