EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The state of journalism in El Paso has never been more fraught. Since 2016, El Paso has been central to social, political, and cultural discussions that reflect the current state of America.
From controversial separations of migrant families, to one of our own running for president, to a racist massacre, El Paso and its residents are situated in the center of world news as we try to go about our lives.
We are not a city on a hill, but we are resilient.
As challenging as the state of journalism is right now, it’s also never been more rewarding.
Reader, please meet Bob Moore.
You might not know it, but chances are that you’re familiar with his work.
This week, local journalist Bob Moore was a Pulitzer prize finalist as part of The Washington Post‘s team of reporters who covered the Aug. 3 mass shooting. A few days later Moore’s grassroots journalism site, El Paso Matters, received a $100,000 grant from Facebook to support local coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moore is grateful to have his team’s work recognized but also acknowledges the tragedy at the center of it.
Being a Pulitzer finalist produced a range of emotions.
Very few winning-stories are optimistic, how many happy love songs do you know?
“Something bad has to happen usually for a journalism prize to come in play,” Moore tells KTSM. “That was our community’s darkest moment, but I felt really honored to be able to help tell our community’s story.”
Covering the Aug. 3 shooting is an experience many journalists in El Paso will never recover from.
Moore’s wife, Kate Gannon, is a journalism professor at UTEP, and the couple ran into several students at the site the day of the shooting.
How does a teacher prepare students to cover a massacre?
What do young journalists learn by watching their mentors also cover a tragedy in their hometown?
Moore’s career as a journalist includes time as an editor at the El Paso Times where he established himself as a community voice and leader of local journalism. In 2013 Moore won the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award for his work.
Last year, he started El Paso Matters, a start-up digital news outlet, that focuses on providing context on the Borderland through investigative reporting.
On Thursday, the Facebook Journalism Project’s Local News COVID-19 Relief Fund announced more than $100 million to local journalism organizations to buttress continued coverage of COVID-19 throughout communities.
Thousands of organizations applied, and only about 140 received grant funding that ranged between $25,000 to $100,000. El Paso matters received $100,000 in funding but that’s not the best part.
“What really excited me was finding out there were three independent news organizations — El Paso Matters, El Paso Inc., and The El Paso Herald Post that were among the recipients of the Facebook grants,” says Moore.
Moore says the funding is indicative of the importance Facebook places on the El Paso region as a binational region. Stories from El Paso detail the lives of contemporary migrants, first-generation Americans, and other vulnerable populations whose stories have been traditionally silenced or ignored.
“El Paso Matters wants to be in a position to fill some of the coverage gaps other organizations aren’t able to get to,” says Moore.
“We’re especially going to try to focus on more regional storytelling to tell the impact of COVID-19 not just from an El Paso perspective, but a border perspective.”
Note: An earlier version reported Moore’s story was a Pulitzer winner, when it was a finalist. The Pulitzer went to The Louisville Courier-Journal.