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ABC-7 Xtra

ABC-7 Xtra: Microsoft’s journalism project at work in the Borderland

EL PASO, Texas -- Newsrooms across El Paso and Juarez are teaming up to improve the way we bring you the news, from print, radio, TV and online. This unique project is being powered by Microsoft, and our region is one of four in the entire country that are part of this program.

The initiative is focused on three areas: Providing technology and other tools in newsrooms, resources to help maintain the integrity of the newsroom to tackle tech-driven threats like disinformation.
Then there's support to help journalists with legal issues and cyber threats.

Those newsrooms are spread throughout the country in places like Fresno, California, where print, radio and education are part of the news pilot programs there.

In Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson State University is part of that program, along with print and national public broadcasting.

In the Pacific Northwest is Yakima, Washington, where radio, TV, print and Central Washington University are part of the collaborative there.

Then there's our region, which incorporates two cities, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. This is probably the largest group, including KVIA representing English-language TV, El Paso Inc - the area's business journal,
The El Paso Times representing daily print newspapers, El Paso Matters for emerging media,
KINT for Spanish language TV, KTEP-FM public radio, La Verdad - an online news site out of Juarez,
plus Borderzine and UTEP's communication department which brings in journalists-in-training.

So you have two TV stations,
two print publications, two online news organizations;
plus radio,
students, and professionals; legacy and emerging media working across the border and across languages -- all collaborating in this project.

El Paso Times published a story that became the first in the collaboration. Reporter Lauren Villagran and photographer Omar Ornelas traveled to Guatemala to follow a father and daughter who made the long trek to our border during the immigration surge. They were denied entry into the U.S. and decided to return  to their village in Guatemala.

Here is ABC-7's participation: Immigration attorneys and migrant advocates believe Trump Administration policies aimed at responding to the unprecedented immigration surge last year, could come to an end once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.Those two groups believe if that happens, it could trigger a second immigration surge.ABC-7 received exclusive access at how the largest shelter for migrants is preparing in case the surge develops during the pandemic while observing CDC guidelines. ABC-7 was also given a rare look at inside a shelter in Juarez where asylum seekers under one of those Trump policies are forced to wait for their immigration hearings.

Mary Snapp, Microsoft vice president of strategic initiatives, explains the genesis of the project, the reasons why the El Paso region was included, and what the goals of the project are. Snapp along with Eric Pearson, spearheading the project in El Paso, explain the project and its impact they believe it will have in our region Sunday on ABC-7 Xtra with host Saul Saenz.

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.


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