Journalism Program to Take Students 'Beyond the Border'

Faculty members from the University of Arizona School of Journalism  and New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute are launching a cross-cultural project this fall that will give undergraduate and graduate students hands-on journalism experience in areas of historical and contemporary conflict.

The "Beyond the Border" project will bring NYU students to the U.S.-Mexico border, to the adjoining states of Arizona and Sonora, and UA students to New York City. The two groups will collaborate to produce multimedia reports about areas of historical conflict where the need for accurate and in-depth information is critical.

Celeste González de Bustamante, an assistant professor at the UA, and Yvonne Latty of NYU will lead the project. The first phase will bring NYU students to the Southwestern borderlands for a week to report alongside UA students about issues and problems such as migration, environmental degradation and ethnic and racial conflict.

During the second week, UA students will travel to New York to report "beyond the border" alongside their NYU counterparts on issues and problems in Latino communities, including Mexican and Mexican-American enclaves in New York City. Students' work will be published in the UA School of Journalism and the NYU Journalism Institute news outlets.

Professors Latty and González de Bustamante will document students during their reporting experience, which will result in a first-of-its-kind video for journalism educators who teach reporting in areas of conflict and trauma.

A 2008 report by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press indicated that by 2050, nearly one out of three people (29 percent) in the U.S. will be Hispanic. A 2009 Pew Center survey showed that Americans think that Hispanics are more discriminated against than any other ethnic or racial minority.

The media, said González de Bustamante, play a crucial role in shaping attitudes and opinions about ethnicity and immigration, yet less than 1 percent of national news produced is about Latinos, according to "Brown Out Reports" from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Further, the majority of news coverage about Latinos portrays them in stereotypical and negative ways (Mastro and Behm-Morawitz, 2005).

The "Beyond the Border" project aims to train some of the nation's top future journalists by giving these students tools to report in cross-cultural settings, as well as teach them how to create journalism that puts issues and events in historical, economic, social and cultural contexts, said González de Bustamante.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is funding airfare via Continental Airlines for students and faculty members from Arizona to New York, eight NYU participants to Arizona, as well as travel costs for five veteran freelance journalists who will offer guidance to students. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is also supporting the project. Organizers are still seeking funding for additional expenses such as hotel, ground transportation and documentary editing.

González de Bustamante's research includes the history of news media in Latin America (primarily Mexico and Brazil) and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her book manuscript, "Muy buenas noches: Mexico, Television and the Cold War," is under review. She worked as an anchor, producer and reporter for 15 years in commercial and public television before joining the UA, where she teaches television news reporting and covering the border.

Latty directs two multimedia graduate concentrations at NYU and is the author of a book on Iraq war veterans and on African-American veterans. She worked for the Philadelphia Daily News for 13 years and currently is producing and directing a documentary on uranium contamination on the Navajo nation.
By University Communications August 20, 2010