Meet the OPC Members: Q&A With Alice Driver

Alice Driver on the job at a migrant shelter in Tapachula, Mexico. Photo: Cambria Harkey

Alice Driver is a bilingual journalist, translator and video producer based in Mexico City. Her work focuses on migration, human rights, and gender equality. Driver has filed work for a slew of media outlets, including National Geographic, REVEAL at the Center for Investigative Reporting, PBS, The Columbia Journalism Review, TIME, CNN,, CBC Radio, BBC News, The New York Times and Cosmopolitan. She has also published a book, More or Less Dead: Feminicide, Haunting, and the Ethics of Representation in Mexico [University of Arizona, 2015] which she completed during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City.

Hometown: Oark, Arkansas (pop. 200).

Education: Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Kentucky, postdoctoral fellowship at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City.

Languages you speak: English, Spanish, Portuguese.

First job in journalism: After I finished my postdoctoral fellowship, which supported the publication of my book, I began to work as a freelance journalist. I have never had a staff job in journalism.

Countries reported from: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Peru, Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Barbados, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Myanmar.

When and why did you join the OPC? I joined the OPC in 2017 after my editor at CNN recommended it to me.

What sparked your interest in migration and human rights reporting?

I wrote a book about femicide in Mexico, More or Less Dead, and most of the victims were migrants so I knew that I wanted my next project to be about migration.

Major challenge as a journalist:
My biggest challenge as a freelancer is that outlets don’t adhere to contracts and don’t pay me on time. This puts me at risk and creates a lot of stress and instability.

Best journalism advice received:

“So much of the world needs the muscle found in true words. Please keep sending what your head and belly make as one loaf.” – poet Nikky Finney who was my professor at Berea College in Kentucky where I did my undergraduate degree.

Worst experience as a journalist:
One time, a migrant whom I met at a shelter got my phone number from the migrant shelter (I had left my business card with some of the workers there), and he wrote me both on FB and via text asking me for a large amount of money. The way that he asked made me feel like he was going to threaten me if I didn’t respond. I blocked him on both platforms and thankfully did not hear anything else from him.

When traveling, you like to…
I like wandering the streets and eating local food which is a good way to get a feel for a place.

Hardest story: I reported a story last year from Nicaragua and was in the country at a time when the streets were full of protests and pro-government forces were shooting citizens in the streets. I didn’t witness violence but the streets of Managua felt volatile.

Journalism heroes: Ginger Thompson, Marcela Turati, Masha Geesen, Roxane Gay, Pamela Colloff.

Dream job: I am living my dream job, but I need to get to the point where outlets pay me on time and respect contracts (or to the point where I can afford to have a lawyer on retainer).

Favorite quote: I interviewed journalist Francisco Goldman a few years ago, and he said, “Identify what it is you want to do and without necessarily understanding it, completely commit. It’s risky. It’s like what Bolaño said in his famous Venezuela speech, ‘What is good writing? It’s not good writing. It’s knowing that writing is looking into an abyss.’ Sometimes the abyss will destroy you.”

Place you’re most eager to visit:

I would love to work on a project in the Philippines and have discussed a few ideas with photographer Lynzy Billing.

Most over-the-top assignment:

TIME magazine sent me on a five-day assignment covering the migrant caravan in Mexico with Magnum photographer Jerome Sessini. I love photography and so the over-the-top part of the assignment for me was being paired with a photographer who has managed to create iconic images over a period of decades.

Most common mistake you’ve seen:

Reporters who don’t learn languages or take the time to understand the cultural context of events when they are reporting outside of their home country.

Country you most want to return to: Brazil.

Twitter handle: @DriverWrites