Borderzine, The University of Texas at El Paso’s bilingual online magazine, will kick off a major dollar-match funding campaign Nov. 1 to raise more than $100,000 for training and placement of job-ready bilingual student journalists who report on the life and culture of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Donations will increase internship and professional training opportunities for student journalists, support new border-focused reporting projects and provide a major equipment revamp of Borderzine’s newsroom-classroom on the UTEP campus.
Borderzine is the capstone class of the Communication Department’s Multimedia Journalism major that has trained more than 500 students and published more than 2,000 stories over the last decade.
The online publication won a major award from the Online News Association in 2014 for a student reporting project, “Mexodus,” which detailed how nearly 100,000 Mexican middle-class families and professionals fled the violence in Ciudad Juárez and relocated to El Paso and other parts of the United States.
“UTEP’s recent investment in upgrading computers in the Department of Communication’s media lab will now serve as a launching pad for a fundraising campaign to support Borderzine, UTEP’s innovative online publishing platform that prepares young bilingual journalists for jobs in 21st century news media,” UTEP President Diana Natalicio said.
“This campaign will be greatly enhanced by a dollar-for-dollar matching grant program sponsored by NewsMatch, an organization committed to helping nonprofit newsrooms thrive as they continue to produce high-quality content for local, national and global audiences,” Natalicio said.
“This is a huge boost for UTEP’s growing journalism program and for the El Paso community because it benefits from our students’ solid and informed reporting about the border,” said Borderzine Director and Founder Zita Arocha. “I tell them that having two or three real world newsroom experiences under their belt before they graduate will almost certainly guarantee them a job in news when they leave college.”
After Borderzine joined the national Independent Non Profit News (INN) organization this year, it was invited to participate, along with over 100 other independent newsrooms throughout the U.S., in NewsMatch, a major fundraising initiative by INN to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support and strengthen reporting and support student journalism. NewsMatch will match dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000 in donations to Borderzine between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.
Donations will help expand the existing pipeline of job-ready multimedia journalists of color for entry-level jobs in the English- and Spanish-news industry. A lack of diversity in the nation’s newsrooms is considered a serious impediment to accurately reporting on and portraying the nation’s racial and ethnic diversity. Borderzine addresses the lack of diversity in the nation’s newsroom by preparing students to work in the changing digital news environment. The most recent census numbers of U.S. news professionals show that just 4 percent of the nation’s journalists are Latino/Hispanic. At the same time, Borderzine’s student journalists provide border residents with more contextual, nuanced and accurate reporting about the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Over the past decade, UTEP journalism graduates have become part of a successful direct classroom-to-newsroom pipeline for news media recruiters, with some alumni now working for news powerhouses like Univision, Telemundo, CNN, ESPN, the Associated Press and the Washington Post, among others. The NewsMatch campaign will help prepare and place more students like alums Adriana Gomez Licon (Associated Press), Alejandra Matos (Houston Chronicle), Cristian Hernandez (Center for Public Integrity) and Susana Flores (ESPN). Last summer, UTEP student journalists completed internships at the San Antonio Express-News, Telemundo, KVIA-TV, Starfish Media Group and other media outlets, and three students attended the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference and career fair in Miami.
In September, Borderzine received a $35,000 grant from the Online News Association to fund a binational journalism multimedia project between the communities of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. The plan is to launch this project in collaboration with news media in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, as well as the journalism programs at El Paso Community College and Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.