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.