Borderzine is accepting applications from professional and independent journalists for its first Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration Reform

boy at border fence


EL PASO – As Congress debates passing immigration reform this year, this reporting workshop on covering immigration reform will teach journalists how to report the face of immigration in their communities using technology and data gathering tools and the latest research findings on immigration.

boy at border fence


Borderzine, Reporting Across Fronteras, invites professional and independent journalists in the United States to apply to its first McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute (SRI) on Immigration Reform: Immigration from the Border to the Heartland. Fifteen journalists will be selected for this intense three-day training to be held September 26-29, at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The institute will convene on Thursday evening, September 26, with a welcoming ceremony, and the three-day workshop will begin early on Friday morning, and conclude at noon Sunday, September 29. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation furnishes everything from tuition to housing, food and transportation.

“UTEP has a deep knowledge and understanding of the sophisticated socio-economic issues surrounding immigration,” said McCormick Journalism Program Director Clark Bell. “Journalists from across the country will be eager to take advantage of the learning environment offered by El Paso and the university.”

Borderzine Director Zita Arocha, who will oversee the institute, said a major goal is for the visiting journalists to acquire the reporting tools and a substantive understanding of immigration policy and research to write compelling, nuanced and well-researched stories about the human face of immigration in their communities.

“The Institute will prepare this group of journalists to report the true impact of immigration politics and policy at the ground level by showing them how to put a face on one of the most significant news stories of our time,” Arocha said. The stories produced by the visiting journalists will be copublished in and they will be invited to also mentor UTEP journalism students working on similar issues, she said.

With the issue at the forefront of the national political agenda, the timing is ideal for this specialized-reporting institute at UTEP, located on the U.S.-Mexico border that is ground zero for the immigration debate, including how many and what kind of undocumented immigrants are accepted for a path to citizenship and deportation policies.

“The SRI selection committee received several proposals on the topic of immigration.  That underscored our sense that this is an important topic, critical for reporters to understand,” said Wendy Wallace, who coordinates the McCormick SRI program at The Poynter Institute. “We liked UTEP’s approach to the teaching, its location on the border and its ability to marshal the resources of Borderzine to share what workshop participants learn and the reporting they do.”

Borderzine SRI Participants will:

  • Connect with the immigration experts and policy makers for better and more comprehensive reporting about immigration based on the facts, hard data, and knowledge of policy and research implications for a proposed major overhaul of current immigration laws in 2013.
  • Analyze the demographics of immigration throughout the country and specifically in the communities where the participating journalists work.
  • Learn from the experiences and examples of El Paso area journalists covering a border community with historic levels of immigration, and
  • Examine and write about the meaningful issues surrounding the immigration debate in fair and comprehensive ways that capture the human side of those stories.

This year’s tentative program will include sessions on:

  • How to analyze and interpret immigration statistics/data about your community
  • Data visualization for immigration storytelling
  • Details of the pending Immigration Reform
  • How immigration detention and courts work
  • Mining the U.S. Census data in local communities
  • Latest national research on immigration trends
  • The political players and advocacy positions on immigration reform
  • Legal immigrants and the asylum process
  • A visit to the border fence and an immigrant community center

Some invited speakers:

  • Alfredo Corchado – Mexico Bureau Chief at the Dallas Morning News and author of Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness
  • Angela Kocherga – Border Bureau Chief at Belo KVUE
  • Claudia Nuñez – Investigative Reporter, immigration and border issues, visualization tools expert
  • D’Vera Cohn – Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center
  • Lise Olsen – Investigative Reporter at the Houston Chronicle
  • Lourdes Cárdenas – Professor at New Mexico State University
  • Lourdes Cueva Chacón – Borderzine Webmaster and full-time Lecturer at The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Molly Molloy – Professor and librarian at New Mexico State University
  • Mónica Ortiz Uribe – Senior Field Correspondent for Fronteras Desk and NPR Freelance Reporter
  • Paul Overberg – Database Editor at USA Today
  • Dr. Richard Shaefer – Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico
  • Sandra Rodríguez Nieto – Cd. Juárez Journalist and former reporter of El Diario
  • Sonia Nazario – Journalist and author of Enrique’s Journey

To apply please go to the Institute’s website:

Immigration from the Border to the Heartland is a Specialized Reporting Institute of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and at The University of Texas at El Paso.

For questions on the application process please contact Program Assistant Angel Cancino at or call (915) 747-8475.

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