Borderzine multimedia experience leads to journalism career opportunities

It’s been five years since my wife Danya and I first walked into the Cotton Memorial building for our introduction to journalism class at the University of Texas at El Paso. This is where we met our mentors David Smith Soto, Zita Arocha, and Lourdes Cueva Chacon. And where we learned the countless lessons we referenced every day at our internships and now at our jobs working for a daily newspaper. I was a creative writer at heart and felt comfortable with my storytelling abilities. Danya was an artistic photographer and felt comfortable telling visual stories.

The battle over standardized testing

EL PASO—The battle over high-stakes student testing has never been more critical and nowhere more apparent than in El Paso, TX, where educators are morphing into criminals. El Paso Independent School District’s Lorenzo García, is the first superintendent in the nation to be convicted of fraud.  Sentenced in October, he is currently serving a three-year sentence for directing a scheme to hide and manipulate the scores of English Language Learning (ELL) students in state-mandated tests. Immigrant students trapped in the middle

From the day the El Paso Times broke this story last year, many have focused on, Los Desaparecidos –77 students who were coerced into dropping out of school by Garcia’s criminal tactics– but there are hundreds of thousands of students throughout Texas just like them.  Many blame the current educational system for making them disappear. “The one size fits all model does not allow for districts like ours to succeed. So what other ways are there if you can’t succeed?

Thousands climb Mt. Cristo Rey to express their faith on Good Friday pilgrimage

EL PASO — Lucille Maya remembers when her father carried her infant brother up Mt. Cristo Rey to ask for a miracle. Her brother was born with a birth defect and doctors told her family that he would never be able to walk, but soon after her father’s pilgrimage her little brother walked for the first time. “I do this for my faith.” said Maya, 73, who has been coming to Mt. Cristo Rey all her life.

Bomb threat empties the University of Texas at El Paso campus

EL PASO—More than 15,000 students and faculty members were evacuated today from the University of Texas at El Paso as a result of an anonymous bomb threat. At 1:58 p.m. the UTEP Police Department issued a text message and an e-mail alerting everyone enrolled in the Miner Alert System to evacuate the campus. UTEP Police Chief Cliff Walsh would not disclose any details about the ongoing investigation, except that it was initiated by a phone call and the proper precautionary steps were taken as a response to the threat. “The campus is safe. We are going to check the campus out and we will engage in other activities to make sure the campus is safe and we are working with our state, local and federal partners on this as well,” said Walsh during a press conference at Mundy Park, just outside of campus.

Hundreds of friends and family of victims of violent crime gather in Yucca Park at the annual reading of more than 1,500 names engraved into the memorials granite walls.(Danya P. Hernandez / Borderzine)

El Paso’s violent crime rate belies its top ranking as a safe city

EL PASO — In El Paso’s Lower Valley four granite disks hold the names of more than 1,500 victims of violent crime, a memorial linking the shattered lives of thousands who have witnessed how this city is not as safe as everyone believes. This year 67 names were added to the wall, 15 of them killed by a drunk driver. This statistic is not being factored in when El Paso is ranked one of the safest cities in the United States every year by the CQ press, an independent publisher of a book titled City Crime Rankings. “Every day, I listen to the news. I hear the radio.

"Our family will never be the same," said Gonzalez, mother of Angela Gonzalez. (Danya Hernandez/

DWI related deaths are not treated as violent crimes in El Paso

EL PASO — With a knot in her throat, the mother of a daughter killed in a Driving-While-Intoxicated incident tells the story of how the tragic event changed her family’s life forever. Unfortunately, like in many of these cases, the victim stays dead while the drunk driver remains alive and free. “Our family has forever been tarnished. Our family will never be the same,” Connie Gonzalez said. She is the mother of Angela Gonzalez, who along with her friend Orlando Figueroa, were run over by a drunk driver while crossing Lee Trevino in 2009 killing them on impact.

Joseph Torres, Latino journalist and author of News for all the People visits UTEP on April 17 to educate students about the history of ethnic media. (Danya P. Hernandez/

The struggle for ethnic parity in U.S. media started with the American Revolution

EL PASO—A modern day champion for a free press, fighting to maintain and safeguard the lessons learned and taught by persons of color in the history of American journalism  made his way south to this border city. Latino author and journalist Joseph Torres stood before students at the University of Texas at El Paso on April 17 and asked them, “Who was Ruben Salazar?”  The classroom full of aspiring young Latino journalist grew silent. Surprised by their silence, he explained how a boy from their own border town became one of the most important Chicano journalists in the 1960’s and how his voice was violently silenced in 1970 by police in Los Angeles. “What most people don’t know about him is that he tried to organize the Latino community and journalists to become activists to create change,” said Torres before reading a rare quote by Salazar that could be a clue to the speculations surrounding his death. “There is much bitterness in our Mexican-American community, gentlemen.

A family having dinner at Little Jimmis mobile food truck, parked at his usual spot in El Paso’s Lower Valley in front of the K-mart on Zaragosa. (Kristian Hernandez/

Roach coach, lunch truck or mobile food vendor?

Mobile food vendors in El Paso – Radio story


[Natural sounds: Cooking food on a the stovetop inside mobile food truck]

KRISTIAN HERNANDEZ (Reporter): Mr. and Mrs. Trejo stand patiently on the side of a busy street in far-east El Paso waiting for some beef tacos they just ordered from a mobile food vendor by the name of “Tacos el Charlie” that has made this dirt lot his spot for the night. YVETTE TREJO: You can’t really see what is in there so you are taking a chance. You don’t really know how clean they are but our experience off the trucks has always been good. I guess we are going off of imagination and pictures, how about that and hope. RAUL TREJO: And hunger.

Veteran White House correspondent, Sam Donaldson at the University of Texas at El Paso. (Robert Brown/

Sam Donaldson – From El Paso to covering the White House and back to his alma mater

EL PASO — The legendary, the tenacious, the former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson has earned many titles along his successful trek in journalism, but it all began in this southwestern border city. Donaldson, 78, is a veteran reporter for ABC news who does not hesitate at the opportunity to visit his former University of Texas at El Paso to talk about his passion for journalism and politics. Donaldson is best known for serving three times as ABC’s White House Correspondent covering presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. He covered the war in Vietnam, the Watergate trials and was the first anchor of ABC’s Sunday Evening News. “I enjoy talking to people who are interested in the news business and interested in the things that I have done from the stand point of learning about those,” Donaldson told Borderzine before taking the stage of UTEP’s Centennial Lecture Series on March 26.