EL PASO – As editor-in-chief of The Prospector and Minero Magazine, reporter for Borderzine and the occasional freelance journalism work I have been able to take around El Paso, I find hard to believe the image many have of this city.
As the drug-related violence continues in our sister city, Ciudad Juárez, the borderland has been in the national spotlight with various media outlets focusing on the drug-war. Even though El Paso was ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. by CQ press in 2010, the city is still perceived as a dangerous city due to its proximity to Juárez.
When I went on an internship at the Houston Chronicle in 2010, once people found out I was from El Paso they all would ask the same questions: how dangerous is El Paso? Is it true that the violence has spilled over to El Paso? Do you feel safe over there?
Even now, more than a year after my internship, I get questions and comments from the people I met over there about how dangerous El Paso has become. It saddens me how such a great city has been smeared by the media’s coverage of the violence.
Last semester, I participated in Mexodus, which was an investigative journalism class that examined the exodus from Mexico and how it impacted El Paso. Throughout our work in that class, it was clear that the drug-related violence in Mexico has had a dramatic impact on El Paso. But not in the way, many perceive it to have had.
A majority of people in El Paso, especially UTEP students, have been directly or indirectly affected by the violence. Although it caused a big emotional effect on people in this region and changed how many people live, it has not affected the safety of our city. No one in El Paso fears for theirs lives as they go about their daily business. The violence has had little to no effect on how the city is run or the number of events that have come to El Paso.
As a matter of fact, El Paso has seen an improvement as a place for sports, music and cultural events. While it still has a long way to go before it catches up to Houston or Dallas, El Paso is slowly becoming an entertainment hotspot.
Lately, more big-named musical acts have made there way to the Sun City, bigger named college teams have made the journey to play in the annual Sun Bowl game and with the expansion of Fort Bliss adding to the population of El Paso, even more big events should be expected in town.
As I am a little more than six months away from graduating from UTEP, I am already starting to miss El Paso. As I continue my path as a journalist, I know the likelihood of staying in El Paso is dim. I am already applying to graduate schools and looking at job listings for journalists that are nowhere near my hometown. Whether I choose to head out into the work force or continue my education, I know the next path of my life will take me far from El Paso.
But one thing I know for sure, anywhere I go I will tell everyone I meet that El Paso is truly like no other town in America.