UTEP’s Borderzine wins prestigious national journalism grant for bi-national media project to tell real story of the borderlands


Borderzine Executive Director Zita Arocha briefing Online News Association conference attendees Sept. 14 on Borderzine's upcoming community reporting project supported by the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.

EL PASO – Borderzine – the University of Texas at El Paso’s award-winning web magazine – 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 Juarez.

Students from UTEP, El Paso Community College and the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juarez will work together on the project called “Engaging Community Across Borders Through Media.”

“It’s an ambitious project to engage border residents from the U.S. and Mexico sides to better relate to the rest of the world the reality of the border minus the usual stereotypes,” said Zita Arocha, professor of practice at UTEP and director of Borderzine.

Local media from both sides of the border also will participate in the project with the goal of helping communities identify solutions to common binational issues such as immigration, transportation, environmental challenges, socio-economic development and health and medical needs, Arocha said. Key media partners include KTEP, El Diario de El Paso, El Paso Times, El Paso Inc., Ser Empresario, KVIA, Univision, Telemundo and KFOX.

More than a dozen students from UTEP, EPCC and UACJ will work as a team to produce multilingual content about the borderlands – from podcasts to video stories to an e-book designed to dispel common myths about the region, Arocha said. “Engaging Communities Across Borders” launches in 2019.

“Like all the borders in the world, the Juarez-El Paso area is unique and special. Covering and reflecting journalistically their realities and the rich dynamics of these communities represents a challenge and an important commitment that journalists need to assume,” said Pablo Hernández Batista, professor of journalism at the UACJ and a partner in the project.

“I am confident that this new binational project will serve as a bridge of understanding and recognition of the realities on both sides of the border,” Hernandez Batista added.

The eight-month-long project will generate multimedia news products like an e-book titled “100 Questions and Answers About the Border,” a project web page with video stories, and maps of the border, a mobile app, and a weekly podcast.

The funding comes from the Online News Association’s 2018 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. The purpose of the fund is to encourage collaboration between journalism programs and local news outlets to provide news and information using innovative techniques and technologies. The organization has funded 43 projects since 2014. UTEP’s proposal is among 13 approved for funding this year.

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