Rivard, Robert 1952–
Rivard, Robert 1952–
PERSONAL: Born November 17, 1952, in Petoskey, MI; married Monika Maeckle (a media executive); children: Nicolas, Alexander. Education: University of Texas at San Antonio, bachelor's degree; graduated from Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Business.
CAREER: Journalist. Brownsville Herald, Brownsville, TX, sports reporter, Corpus Christi Caller Times, Corpus Christi, TX, news reporter; 1970s; Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, TX, news reporter, c. 1980–83; Newsweek magazine, Central American bureau chief, became chief of correspondents, 1983–89; San Antonio Light, San Antonio, TX, reporter, 1989–93; San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, reporter, 1993–94, managing editor, 1994–97, editor and senior vice president, news, 1997–. Board of directors, Inter-American Press Association.
MEMBER: American Society of Newspaper Editors.
AWARDS, HONORS: Distinguished Service Award for Foreign Correspondents, Society of Professional Journalists, 1982; Editor of the Year, Editor & Publisher magazine, 2000; Alumnus of the Year, University of Texas at San Antonio, 2000; Maria Moors Cabot Prize, Columbia University, 2002, for outstanding reporting on Latin America and contributions to better inter-American understanding.
Trail of Feathers: Searching for Philip True (nonfiction), Public Affairs Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert Rivard spent much of his career writing about Latin America and Latino immigrants to the United States. He covered civil wars in Central America in the 1980s and the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands in 1982. He opened a news bureau in Central America for Newsweek and oversaw the founding of a Mexico news bureau for the San Antonio Light, a Texas newspaper. That paper eventually merged with the San Antonio Express-News, whose Mexico City bureau chief, Philip True, was murdered while researching a story in 1998. His murder and the investigation into it are the topic of Rivard's first book, Trail of Feathers: Searching for Philip True.
True disappeared in the Sierra Madre Mountains while reporting a story on the Huichol Indians (a tribe based in Western Mexico). Rivard was part of a search party that followed feathers from True's sleeping bag to find his body; he had been beaten and strangled. Two Huichol men were accused of the murder, but the legal case against them was complicated by lost evidence and their release by a judge at one point. They were finally convicted in 2004 but became fugitives before they could be imprisoned. Rivard's book portrays the misunderstanding that often occurs between U.S. residents and Mexicans, and the frustrations Rivard encountered in the Mexican court system. It also is a portrait of True, as an unconventional but dedicated journalist who loved Mexico.
Some critics thought Rivard especially good at depicting cross-cultural conflicts and praised other aspects of his work as well. "Trail of Feathers is tremendous for the way it digs into enormous issues of history, poverty, and bilateral misperceptions," commented Sam Quinones in the Columbia Journalism Review. "Moreover," Quinones concluded, "when it comes to editorial perseverance, Rivard is the gold standard." Library Journal contributor Deirdre Bray Root found the book "a fascinating look at an intriguing man and an alien culture," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer called it "engaging, compassionate, though sometimes long-winded." A Kirkus Reviews critic added that the work "displays the commitment of a professional journalist and the devotion of a friend."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Columbia Journalism Review, November-December, 2005, Sam Quinones, "Taking Justice: An Editor's Story of His Slain Reporter Reveals Much about Modern Mexico," p. 66.
Editor & Publisher, May 15, 2000, Mark Fitzgerald, "Rivard Pushes for True Facts," p. 5.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2005, review of Trail of Feathers: Searching for Philip True, p. 962.
Library Journal, November 1, 2005, Deirdre Bray Root, review of Trail of Feathers, p. 99.
Publishers Weekly, August 1, 2005, review of Trail of Feathers, p. 130.
Robert Rivard Home Page, http://www.robertrivard.com (January 26, 2006).