At this holiday time my mind turns toward reflecting on the road that Borderzine traveled this past year and where it’s headed as it marks its second anniversary this month.
There are many accomplishments to celebrate. Viewership of the website is steadily climbing, hitting more than 11,000 unique views in early November with the Borderzine coverage of the murder in Juarez of two UTEP business students. Page views for all visitors rose from 5,000 for the month of January to 20,000 for the month November.
Student-produced content from UTEP and other partner universities is growing (over 350 stories have been posted (read and commented on) since March 2008, and we’ve seen similar increases in Spanish language stories, as well as videos and audio slideshows. Each well-written and reported feature story contains digital photos produced by the story’s author.
Borderzine students did live blogging of a national journalism conference at UTEP about the growing danger to Mexican journalists covering the drug violence. Read all about it on the website.
Some noteworthy stories this year include one about the death of pioneering Latino journalist Ruben Salazar, another about the triunfo of the son of migrant workers from New Mexico, and a blog about a student’s internship at the Scripps Howard News Bureau that allowed him to walk the halls of Congress.
It’s also gratifying to now see more Borderzine bylines by other students from Imperial Valley College, University of Texas San Antonio, Columbia College in Chicago, University of California Northridge, and others.
An exciting development in 2010 was a $30,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation for students to produce a bilingual, multimedia project called “Mexodus” that will look at middle class Mexican families and professionals fleeing their country because of drug crime and violence. Three university classes, at UTEP, University of California Northridge, and the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Chihuahua campus, will report and write the project during spring semester, with a goal of having the project published by Borderzine and various media outlets in June of next year.
Professional journalists will mentor the students, and we expect “Mexodus” to provide a detailed look at a social, demographic and cultural phenomenon (under-reported by national media in both countries) affecting both sides of the U.S. Mexico border.
We will receive funding again in 2011 from Dow Jones News Fund for the second summer Multimedia Journalism Training Academy for professors from UTEP and other Hispanic Serving Institutions across the country. This June we will again bring four top-level news media trainers to prepare a dozen journalism instructors to teach their students the technology they need to know to produce multimedia journalism. By the way, Dow Jones News Fund is also a long time supporter of Journalism in July, a regional workshop at UTEP for high school journalists from the border region. This summer’s workshop will be the 9th at UTEP.
At the operational level, I am thrilled to report that Borderzine Webmaster Lourdes Cueva Chacon will join the UTEP Communication Department faculty next spring as a Lecturer. This means she will be teaching some technology related classes alongside her daily duties of maintaining the website and working with reporters. One improvement she made to Borderzine this year was to add a PayPal account to the website. The icon appears on the top right hand corner of every page. Donations are for student enrichment activities such as internships, conferences and professional meetings. We received our first $25 last month from an El Paso supporter. Please keep ‘em coming.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that UTEP’s initial vision for a dynamic, bilingual, multimedia web magazine to showcase the work of Latino college students is now reality, y mucho mas.
We thank you for believing in the mission, for helping to make all this happen. We couldn’t have done it without you.