Lifelong El Pasoan Karen Cooper Linen calls the little rock house at 3231 Wyoming “a hidden treasure.”
The house on a quiet street corner in El Paso’s East Five Points neighborhood connects to a larger building to make up the McCall Neighborhood Center. Inside is a vibrant community gathering space and repository of El Paso’s Black history and achievement. “A lot of people that grew up here don’t know that it’s here,” said Cooper Linen, who serves on the center’s board. The McCall Center was established in 1983 by Leona Ford Washington, a teacher and community activist. It serves to preserve and showcase the history and accomplishments of Black El Pasoans as well as the contributions of African Americans in our country’s history.
The new year starts soon with a bang as a new unpredictable Republican president, downright antagonistic toward news media, the border and immigrants, takes office. And Borderzine’s editors and student journalists are ready for the challenge of reporting the non-headline-making reality of the border region and share it with the wider public, the politicians and decision makers in Washington. Among new ventures in the works for 2017 are a journalism partnership with a major Spanish/English news outlet with increased focus on in-depth reporting by our students and professional staff about the economy, business, education, immigration (yes, the wall!) and the environmental needs of the U.S.-Mexico border region, as well as our signature storytelling – relating the unique culture and contributions of 20 million border residents to the rest of the nation. During 2016, Borderzine student reporters dove into story coverage of Pope Francis’ first-ever visit to Ciudad Juarez and the border, reported thoroughly on the effects of cross-border air contamination in a multimedia package that was presented at a national Communication conference in Philadelphia, and a collaborative effort with the New Mexico In Depth news site and NMSU students to report the local impact of the historic and histrionic presidential race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and billionaire Donald Trump for the White House. Next year we hope to continue two long-standing and successful on-going projects – Journalism in July, a multimedia journalism camp for the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez/Las Cruces area’s best and brightest high school journalists, and an annual summer Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy for journalism professors from Hispanic-Serving Institutions as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
An article in The Atlantic reported last year that nearly a third of Americans had not read a book in the time span of a year. From paperbacks to the now ever so popular e-book, Atlantic says that the number of people who do not read books at all has tripled since 1978. With a little research into the world of books myself; it wasn’t hard to notice that the lack of diversity in the publishing realm is probably not helping. Books and literature in general, that appeal to people of color and LGBTQ+, has also seen a steady shortage. According to the Center for American Progress, in 2014, people of color made up 40 percent of just 13 states.
Borderzine, a bilingual journalism training program based at The University of Texas at El Paso, has been selected as one of 52 winners from across the country in the seventh annual Tom’s of Maine “50 States for Good” community giving program. Borderzine was selected to represent the state of Texas and will receive $20,000 to fund its mission of transforming U.S. newsrooms into more inclusive workplaces that reflect the nation’s demographic diversity by placing more young journalists of color in news internships and jobs. “This generous gift from Tom’s of Maine advances in significant ways Borderzine’s mission to prepare a young generation of multicultural journalists that reflects and interprets the real story of immigration and the borderlands for the rest of America,” said Zita Arocha, director of Borderzine and associate professor in UTEP’s Department of Communication. Specifically, the funds will be used for a combination of internships, technical support for the Borderzine website and recruitment efforts for Borderzine’s annual high school journalism workshop. The contest’s process began with community members taking to social media pages to share #OneWaytoHelp their communities, amassing nearly 10,000 submissions.
EL PASO – A special collaboration between Borderzine and Noticias Univision 26, one of the biggest media outlets in the borderland, gave the opportunity to four bilingual students majoring in multimedia journalism at UT El Paso to showcase their journalistic abilities. Journalism students Mabel Gutierrez, Sara Villegas, Esther Jurado and Daniel Alvarez worked with Channel 26-KINT TV on a special assignment focusing on the university and student life. All four of them shot, edited and wrote their own stories which aired on the Spanish-language TV station. The constantly shifting media landscape in the contemporary world has created a new type of journalist. Multimedia journalists, or MMJ’s, are able to produce a stories on their own that used to be done with a crew of two or more people.
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 6-year-old online Border Life magazine, Borderzine, crosses another milestone this month with a redesign, enhanced digital features and visuals to better reflect its mission to publish rich relevant content about the borderlands by multicultural student journalists. A few of the exciting changes include a responsive design that allows readers to easily navigate across computer platforms and mobile devices, an updated logo, new story categories covering “Immigration and Fronteras” and “Diversity and Ideas” as well as a snazzier portfolio page to showcase the multimedia journalism of our student reporters. Here are some highlights of what we’ve added:
At the core of the new Borderzine.com is the responsive web design, which makes the site look good across computer platforms and on mobile devices. We’ve updated our look with a fresh, new logo inspired by the sunrise over a Southwest landscape – the vibrant glow of a new dawn in multicultural America. New category sections on the home page showcase our unique and varied content.
EL PASO –Sweating from a three-hour rehearsal of George Fredric Handel’s opera Acis and Galatea, Bhutanese performer Tshering Goen, dressed in blues, yellows, and deep reds began to prepare for a second round of practice. Goen, a director of the Bhutan Royal Academy of Performing Arts, came here to perform at the University of Texas at El Paso, a campus filled with buildings inspired by Bhutanese architecture. The Kingdom of Bhutan is at the eastern end of the Himalayas in South Asia. “I feel as if I am back in Bhutan,” Goen said with calmness in his voice as he donned an animal mask to continue with the rehearsal of a classic Western opera in Bhutanese dress. Related story and video: Love and Death visit Handel’s Acis and Galatea in a Bhutanese cremation field
The Bhutanese interpretation of the classic Handel opera fit perfectly with the architectural history of this campus, nestled in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains in the Chihuahuan desert.
SAN ANTONIO – The celebration of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ 30th anniversary was brought to a sobering pause last week when Hispanic Link News Service publisher Charlie Ericksen voiced his dissatisfaction with the progress mainstream media have made in diversifying the staffs of their newsrooms.
Hispanic journalists from all corners of the country made their way here to the NAHJ convention to celebrate its three decades of advocating for more minority participation in news media. Much of the talk at the four-day NAHJ convention was on the diversification of newsrooms throughout the United States and that conversation became a strident argument. During the convention’s final event – the Gala and Awards banquet – the association recognized news organizations that had “increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in cable news,” including CNN, PBS, Buzzfeed and Fox News Latino. Ericksen, 84, a founding member of NAHJ, was given a chance to speak when he was recognized for his lifetime of work in newsroom diversity. He told the gathering that celebrating increased visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in the media by honoring a network such as Fox News was a “kind of a farce.” He also said that despite the organization’s 30 years of work on increasing newsroom diversity the number of Latinos in mainstream newsrooms has actually declined.
EL PASO — On a warm Saturday night in September a merger of education and religion was taking place at the home of Cyrous and Ruhi Heydarian in the affluent Diamond Point Circle neighborhood of west El Paso. A group of about 30 men and women of all ages, some Hispanic, some Iranian others anglo, gathered in their living room for a “devotional” of the local Bahá’í Faith Community. The multicultural, multiethnic group of devotees was discussing Chicana feminism, a topic led by one of their three college age daughters, Nazanin. The local Bahá’í Faith community consists of people of various backgrounds, and despite their limited numbers a massive amount of positive energy circulates amongst them. They began with a PowerPoint discussion about that night’s subject, Chicana feminism, the group listening so intently that one could hear the crickets singing in the night outside.
EL PASO – My roommate from college thinks only people our age (65 this year) are interesting. She is locked into the cohort of early baby boomers, with only a couple of year’s latitude. I disagree with her. We have had this argument before. I think it is narrow and rigid to think that only people who have shared certain events at certain times have something to offer. Yes, we were alive and know where we were when Sputnik went up and when John F. Kennedy was shot, but how many times does that come up in conversation?
EL CENTRO, Calif. – The cash registers sit patiently, like Venus flytraps eager to be fed. Employees begin to prepare themselves mentally. Suddenly, a mob, a stampede, a crowd, a giant mosh of consumers makes its way through the doors of the Imperial Valley Mall. Lines form at almost every store.
In fact, it only takes a simple metro ride to get a sense that the idea of “a typical” Parisian woman—or man, for that matter—seems more of a fiction than a reality. If, for instance, you ride the metro from Odeon to Chatelet—two central and important metro exchanges—you will probably see a number of Parisian women who would not match the “typical” description: from college students wearing chador to women wearing Benetton garb, from girls in military fatigues to women in Senegalese kaftans.