For decades Jacobo Zabludovsky was seen as a symbol of the tight links between Mexico’s government and its press. He anchored Mexico’s most-viewed evening news programme for almost three decades until 1998, reflecting a solidly pro-government line while working for the dominant Televisa network. He became the face of a system many considered repressive, though he later adopted a more independent stance as host of a radio news programme.
The rail-thin, energetic anchor spent some seven decades in broadcast and print journalism, interviewing figures such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in his youth. He was perhaps best known for his coverage of the 1985 earthquake that killed 9,500 in the capital. Equipped with an early version of a mobile phone, Zabludovsky gave viewers a tour of the damage in Mexico City. But he was widely reviled, along with most of the country’s press, for playing down the 1968 army massacre of students in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco square.
One of his darkest chapters came in the 1988 presidential election, which pitted leftist upstart Cuauhtemoc Cardenas against Carlos Salinas. Salinas eked out a narrow victory many claimed was fraudulent. Zabludovsky’s programme, 24 Horas, gave Salinas 141 minutes of coverage over a 10-week period, while it gave Cardenas about nine minutes. Zabludovsky later acknowledged that the government had pressured journalists earlier in his career.
He revived his reputation for many with a brisk daily radio news broadcast in which he gave significant space to anti-government figures and campaigned for cleaning up the historic centre of Mexico City.
Jacobo Zabludovsky, journalist: born Mexico City 24 May 1928; married (three children); died 2 July 2015.