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Cronkite News – Borderlands is an immersive reporting program in which students cover stories related to immigration and border issues as well as Latino and Native American issues.
Students work out of the state-of-the-art Cronkite News newsroom on the sixth floor of the school, and they travel across the state and to the U.S.-Mexico border to produce multimedia-rich stories for the Cronkite News website and for distribution to media outlets around the region.
Their work along the border has included reports on migrant crossings, the debate over citizenship status for migrant youth, the impact of the border wall and tariffs, and the lives of refugees.
Student reporting on Indian Country regularly ranks among the most popular content on the Cronkite News website. Stories touch on education, health, tradition and history of tribes as well as disputes over water and land rights, power and technology.
The bureau is directed by Vanessa Ruiz, an Emmy Award-winning journalist with almost 20 years of experience as a television reporter and anchor. She was Telemundo International’s youngest news anchor, bringing national and international news stories to the homes of 5 million-plus U.S. and Latin American viewers in English and Spanish. Most recently, she served as the main evening news anchor at KPNX-TV, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix.
Student work in the Borderlands bureau has been recognized by the Hearst Journalism Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists Awards, the Broadcast Education Association Awards, the Rocky Mountain Emmys Student Awards, and the Arizona Press Club among others.
The Borderlands bureau builds on two other classes at the Cronkite School that are part of the school’s Southwest Borderlands Initiative. Those classes are a Latino seminar and a depth reporting class, both taught by Rick Rodriguez, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors. The fall Latino seminar immerses students in the study of border and immigration issues in another country. Then in the following spring semester, students travel to that country to report in person.
In recent years, Rodriguez’s class has traveled to Peru, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Hungary and has produced work that has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award for reporting on social justice issues. The projects are made possible by a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and support from the Adelaida and Barry Severson Cronkite Global Initiatives fund.
These student projects include: Panama: Migrants’ Toughest Test | Puerto Rico: Restless & Resilient |Queretaro: Promise of Prosperity for Mexico | Hungary: Europe's Borderland | Nicaragua: Channeling the Future | Chiapas: State of Revolution | Two Borders | Puerto Rico: Unsettled Territory | Stateless in the Dominican Republic | South Africa: At the Crossroads of Hate and Hope | South Africa Documentary | Borderlands Photo Essays | Divided Families | Divided Families Documentary | Children of the Borderlands | South Africa Project.
Director, Cronkite News Borderlands, Professor of Practice