Arrested journalist is one of New Mexico’s finest investigative reporters

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New Mexico In Depth/ProPublica reporter Bryant Furlow answers audience questions during a school discipline discussion on April 1, 2023 in Gallup, NM. Credit: Tara Armijo-Prewitt

This is New Mexico In Depth’s mid-week newsletter. We think it’s crucial to stay in touch and tell you what’s on our minds every week. Please let us know what’s on your mind as well. Or, got tips? What do we need to know? Contact us: [email protected]

Last week, reporter Bryant Furlow was arrested while observing a police action to dismantle the encampment of student protesters.  It was widely reported that Bryant is a regular contributor to New Mexico In Depth, and of course, we published his statement about the arrest. 

It’s true that Bryant is not a full-time staff member for New Mexico In Depth. He’s also an accomplished medical journalist working for well-known industry journals. 

But he’s more than a regular contributor for us. He has twice paused his medical journalism almost entirely to work with us full-time on year-long investigations. This means I’ve worked with Bryant every week in some years on complex reporting projects (twice, thanks to ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network) and we are currently embarked on a third effort with the Data-Driven Reporting Project – this time juggled in tandem with his medical journalism.

Bryant is a meticulous reporter with a dogged “won’t take no” approach to people or institutions who stand in his way of obtaining public records. He is a skilled data journalist who can spot a story buried in numbers a mile away. He brings to his craft a necessary trait: great skepticism. And he is deeply empathetic – which is likely why he has a deep bench of sources. One can see that empathy in his stories for New Mexico In Depth, which center those most vulnerable to abuse or neglect. 

Last week, I was out of state when Bryant was arrested on May 15. My colleague, Trip Jennings, and I spent all day trying to get in touch with him, with Trip eventually going to the detention center and then looking for him in downtown Albuquerque. Bryant is a highly valued colleague. 

He’s also a member of a profession essential to our democracy. His freedom to gather and report the news is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, right up there with the right to free speech, to peacefully assemble, petition the government, or to exercise one’s religion. 

Bryant was released after almost 12 hours in jail on the 15th, as was Tara Armijo-Prewitt, a photographer and occasional contributor to New Mexico In Depth who was also arrested and to whom he is married.

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