UTEP student, Nicole Chavez, shows Mexodus' Online Journalism Award. (©Stacey D. Kramer)

Borderzine’s teaching newsroom produced award-winning Mexodus

EL PASO – Winning a national prize for an outstanding piece of journalism like the one awarded to Borderzine’s Mexodus project last week by the Online News Association goes way beyond public recognition for a job well done. To me the classy, foot-high triangular glass trophy that UTEP student Nicole Chavez brought home to El Paso is confirmation of what great work journalism students can produce when educators bust open traditional journalism classroom walls to create a teaching newsroom within the academy. That’s how we did it at our school on the U.S.-Mexico border five years ago when we created Borderzine, a web magazine by students about borders that is the capstone class in our multimedia journalism degree program and is run like a professional newsroom.  While some journalism education programs continue to resist technological and news industry changes, we’re proud to be in the company of major-league journalism schools that have adopted similar “teaching hospital” models. Our teaching newsroom produced Mexodus, a semester-long reporting project about the exodus of Mexican middle class families, businesses and professionals fleeing drug war violence in Mexico.  The project broke linguistic, national and even professional-student boundaries by including nearly 80 students from four universities, two in the U.S. and two in Mexico, journalism faculty and news professionals like Lourdes Cárdenas, who has run newsrooms in the U.S. and Mexico. The collaboration produced 22 professionally edited print stories and various multimedia, all of it translated and published in English and Spanish.  Trainers from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. (IRE) came to UTEP to teach professors investigative reporting techniques that they in turn taught their students who used them to report and write the project.

Mexodus, Borderzine's especial project.

Borderzine’s especial project finalist for 2012 Online Journalism Award

Borderzine’s bilingual project, Mexodus, united students from across the U.S. – México border to report on the exile of thousands of middle class Mexican families, who fled seeking shelter from the violent drug war in cities such as Ciudad Juárez. The multimedia project was recently selected as finalist for the Online Journalism Awards by the Online News Association and the School of Communicationn at the University of Miami. Students and professors from the University of Texas at El Paso worked in partnership with the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Chihuahua, the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Ciudad de México, and the California State University at Northridge to develop the project. “The use of multimedia, the power of data and social media, and the ability of journalists to integrate them to inform, entertain, and emotionally connect with readers has set a high water mark,” said ONA Board member Josh Hatch in a press release about the quality of the works submitted this year. Mexodus will be competing in the Non-English Projects category against similar publications from Spain and Germany.

El Paso, the safest city in the U.S. by fact, the most dangerous by media coverage. (José Luis Trejo/Borderzine.com)

El Paso is still the safe, prosperous Sun City it has always been

EL PASO – As editor-in-chief of The Prospector and Minero Magazine, reporter for Borderzine and the occasional freelance journalism work I have been able to take around El Paso, I find hard to believe the image many have of this city. As the drug-related violence continues in our sister city, Ciudad Juárez, the borderland has been in the national spotlight with various media outlets focusing on the drug-war. Even though El Paso was ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. by CQ press in 2010, the city is still perceived as a dangerous city due to its proximity to Juárez. When I went on an internship at the Houston Chronicle in 2010, once people found out I was from El Paso they all would ask the same questions: how dangerous is El Paso? Is it true that the violence has spilled over to El Paso?

UTEP y El Paso son el perfecto crisol para una nueva forma de periodismo en Borderzine

Traducido por César Silva-Santisteban

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EL PASO — Nacido en las clases de periodismo universitario, un nuevo medio de comunicación ha ganado fuerza en la cobertura de noticias locales con respecto a los tradicionales y debilitados paquetes de noticias de periódicos y estaciones de televisión, casi barridos ahora por Internet y la Gran Recesión. Publicada por la Universidad de Texas en El Paso (UTEP) como la piedra angular de su plan de estudios de periodismo,  Borderzine.com, nuestra revista en Internet, es un buen ejemplo de este nuevo concepto mediático, que entrelaza la formación de periodistas, la cobertura local y el financiamiento gracias a organizaciones sin fines de lucro. La tranferencia de algunas fuentes tradicionales de ingresos hacia Internet ha forzado a los ‘viejos’ medios de prensa a reducir su personal y su cobertura de noticias. Incluso hubo algunos que no pudieron evitar la bancarrota. Aunque mi alma mater, el Miami Herald, todavía continúa en el negocio, su editor ha anunciado que el majestuoso edificio del Herald en la Bahía de Biscayne ya fue vendido a una promotora turística malaya y, por lo tanto, el periódico deberá mudarse.

(Raymundo Aguirre/Borderzine.com)

UTEP and El Paso provide the perfect crucible for a new kind of journalism in Borderzine

EL PASO – As the traditional delivery of news by newspapers and television stations weakened during the past decade, swept aside by the Internet and the Great Recession, a new medium driven by the college journalism classroom has gained strength in local news coverage. Our Internet magazine, Borderzine.com, published by the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as the keystone of its journalism curriculum is a good example of this new media concept that marries journalism training, local coverage, and funding from nonprofit organizations. The transfer of some traditional revenue sources to Internet media has forced some “old” media to cut staffs and curtail coverage. Some were forced into bankruptcy. While my alma mater, The Miami Herald is still in business, its publisher has announced that the majestic Herald building on Biscayne Bay was sold to a Malaysian resort developer and the newspaper will have to move out.

"Our job is to bring them (our customers) a piece of Juárez", said Omar Apodaca co-owner of La Choza. (Alexander Gandara/Borderzine.com)

Mexican businesses thrive in El Paso with support from their own network

EL PASO – New businesses and professionals resettling here from México have assimilated almost seamlessly into the local culture and economy in the last two years with the help and oversight of a close-knit network they formed to orient and advise them. Known as La Red, the organization with 300-plus members aims to assist its new immigrant middle-class membership with business and legal advice.  La Red includes business entrepreneurs, laywers, architects and other professionals. They help empresarios from Juárez transfer their businesses to El Paso using L1A visas.  In 2010 L1A visas were issued to 5,000  Mexican business professionals, according to the U.S. state department statistics. The L1A visa is a quicker way for professionals to establish residency for up to seven years and it allows them to bring children under the age of 21.  La Red retains lawyers who can help with the proper documentation. Once issued the visa, they must prove that the business is succesful.  The visa can be renewed every two years.

(Justin Anthony Monarez/Borderzine.com)

Soccer at the centerline en español

EL PASO — Juarenses revered and dubbed him “Superman” during his tenure as a soccer star. “I had the opportunity of being one of the most popular players in that team, said César Sosa. “In Juárez everybody knows me. They say ‘Supermán Sosa’ and they know who he is.”

Although it’s been two decades since the delantero suited up for the beloved Cobras de Ciudad Juárez, Sosa said his relationship with Juárez during his early 1990’s career has continued and garnered support for his new team now in El Paso. “They relate him to that special team and maybe to that time where Juárez was really nice, peaceful and everything,” said Teresa Sosa, César’s wife.

Ciudad Juárez walls full of colors, late 90's. (Courtesy of Cheryl Howard)

La frontera de mi memoria

Traducido por César Silva Santisteban

Read this story in English

EL PASO – Deseo escribir sobre la frontera. Deseo escribir sobre ella sin llorar, pero eso no parece posible. Si todas nuestras lágrimas juntas cayeran sobre el Río Grande/Bravo irrigarían de nuevo su torrente. La edición «Mexodus» de Borderzine justo acaba de salir, y yo deseo leer y escribir acerca de todo esto sin llorar, pero no es posible. Mi amiga Georgina publicó un enlace hacia un artículo de El Diario que dice que 300 mil viviendas en Ciudad Juárez han sido abandonadas.

Mexican journalists are an endangered species

SAN DIEGO — Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights received 608 complaints of injuries against journalists, 66 murders of reporters, and 12 disappearances of journalists, between 2000 and 2011. “Drug dealers aren’t concerned about killing one reporter or 20 or 30 because nothing is going to happen to them,” said Jorge Luis Aguirre, editor of LaPolaka.com, a news web site that covers drug trafficking and related topics. Aguirre says the attacks and threats against journalists pose a threat to a free press in México and to the democratic institutions in that country. Aguirre was recently granted political asylum in the U.S. based on claims he received death threats from the state government of Chihuahua. The journalist continues working as the editor of LaPolaka.com from his residence in El Paso, Texas.

La Casa del Migrante alberga sufrimiento, ofrece esperanza

TIJUANA — Pasa la media noche y una camioneta blanca ahuyenta a los perros callejeros mientras se estaciona a dejar más migrantes que llegan cansados, hambrientos y otros hasta moribundos a la Casa del Migrante en Tijuana, Baja California. “Pedro” es un migrante que vivió por 14 años en Van Nuys, CA y prefirió guardar su identidad. Al tratar de regresar a California por Tecate, Baja California, con un grupo de ocho compañeros sus planes no fueron como planeaba. “Traían pistolas, inclusive me pusieron la pistola en la cabeza, una 3-57… ellos querían que dijera que yo era (el) guía y lo tuve que decir para que no me siguieran golpeando”, afirmó. Al intentar cruzar La Rumorosa, todos fueron secuestrados por un grupo de delincuentes.