About Robert Rivard
Robert Rivard, 52, has worked for five Texas newspapers over his 28-year career, and also has served as a foreign correspondent in Central America and as a senior editor at Newsweek magazine in New York. In April 2000, he was chosen by Editor & Publisher magazine in New York as its first annual "Editor of the Year."
The magazine cited several reasons in selecting Rivard among the nation's 1,100 newsroom leaders. First and foremost was the leadership he demonstrated in the case of Philip True, the newspaper's Mexico City bureau chief who was murdered in December 1998 while on assignment in Huichol Indian territory in western Mexico. Rivard traveled to Mexico after True disappeared and convinced the Zedillo Administration to mount a major search effort, and he was in the small search party that located True's hidden grave.
Rivard also led the newspaper's six-year fight to win a verdict in the Mexican justice system. His op-ed pieces on the case were published in El Norte, Reforma, El Público and other leading Mexican newspapers.
Rivard and True's widow, Martha, met face-to-face with two Mexican presidents, countless cabinet officials, ambassadors, consular officials, state investigators and others before prevailing in the case.
In 2004 the Jalisco state supreme court returned a final verdict of guilt and ordered the two Huichol brothers-in-law who killed True to serve 20-year prison terms. Both men fled before Mexican authorities could detain them, having been released from custody earlier by a Mexican judge under questionable circumstances.
In April 2003, it was Rivard's email to the New York Times that provoked an investigation into plagiarism charges by a reporter named Jayson Blair. Blair had lifted reporting and writing from San Antonio Express-News reporter Macarena Hernandez's published work and presented it as his own. The subsequent investigation led to what became known as the Jayson Blair debacle, with Blair and the Times' executive editor and managing editor tendering their resignations.
Rivard's journalism career began in the 1970s when he moved to Brownsville, Texas, where he first experienced the borderlands, and embraced a new culture and language. He is self-taught in Spanish and has since spent most of his professional career as a reporter and editor focused on Latin America, Latino migrant populations, and Hispanic-dominant communities, and in fostering better cross-border understanding and relations. In 2002 Colombia University awarded him the Maria Moors Cabot Award, journalism's oldest award, for his contributions to better inter-American understanding.
While working at the Dallas Times-Herald in 1980, Rivard convinced his editors to send him to Central America and open a fulltime news bureau covering the region's civil wars and political upheaval. From his base in San Jose, Costa Rica, he covered civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala and the Reagan administration's efforts to back the region's military regimes against guerrilla insurgencies. He wrote frequently from Honduras, Belize and Panama, and he covered the Falkland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain in 1982.
Later that same year, he was awarded one of journalism's top awards, the Society of Professional Journalists' Distinguished Service Award for Foreign Correspondents. Judges singled out his writings on the regime's death squads operating in El Salvador.
In 1983, he traded newspaper reporting for news magazine reporting. Editors at Newsweek magazine hired Rivard to open a Central American bureau in El Salvador. After three more years of covering civil wars and the death of the magazine's El Salvador-based photographer, John Hoagland, he was named chief of correspondents and placed in charge of the magazine's foreign and domestic news bureaus. He continued to travel and work throughout the Americas from his New York base for the next five years.
Rivard returned to Texas newspapers in 1989, joining the San Antonio Light, and directing efforts to open its first bureau in Mexico, as well as the paper's first-ever coverage elsewhere in the hemisphere. He joined the San Antonio Express-News in 1993 after Hearst merged the city's two dailies, and became its editor in 1997. Since then the Express-News has opened bureaus in Mexico and along the border.
Rivard plays an active role in working to protect press freedom in the hemisphere as a board member of the InterAmerican Press Association and as a board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Rivard is a political science graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a graduate of Northwestern University's Executive Management Program at its Kellogg Graduate School of Business. He was selected by his alma mater, UTSA, as "Alumnus of the Year" in September of 2000. He and his wife, Monika Maeckle, have two sons, Nicolas, 20, and Alexander, 18.