An award-winning journalist, who previously worked for the Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News, has joined the University of Houston-Victoria as a communications instructor.
Macarena Hernández will teach “Writing for the Print Media” and “Intercultural Communication” during the spring semester. Classes start Jan. 20.
“We are thrilled to have a journalist with her qualifications at UHV,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. “Ms. Hernández brings a wide range of knowledge about multimedia journalism and Latino issues to her job that she will share with students and with the community through outreach efforts.”
Hernández most recently was an International Reporting Project Fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. While there in the fall, she produced a documentary about Mexican immigration laws scheduled to air this spring on PBS/Frontline World.
“Victoria is an ideal location,” 34-year-old Hernández said. “It combines the new migration with the old settlement. Working here will inform my work about immigration and will allow me to work with the kind of students I grew up with along the border.”
A child of immigrants, Hernández was born in Roma and raised in La Joya, where her family still lives. She became interested in journalism as a student at Baylor University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1996 as a double major in English professional writing and journalism. She went on to receive her master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in documentary filmmaking in 1998 from the University of California at Berkeley.
Before working as a columnist and staff writer at the Dallas Morning News, Hernández worked at Latino.com, a San Francisco-based Webzine for Hispanics, and the San Antonio Express-News, where she was the Rio Grande Valley bureau chief. She also has written for the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
In 2003, she became the subject of media attention when Jayson Blair, a reporter for the New York Times, plagiarized a story Hernández had written for the Express-News. Blair resigned from the newspaper, and the Times published a front-page story about his deceptions. Two top managers from the Times left the newspaper a month after Blair. That year, Latina magazine named her one of its Women of the Year.
“You find very few ‘Jayson Blairs’ out there,” Hernández said. “Most journalists are hard working and are really watchdogs for the public. But I think the whole experience with Jayson made me more sensitive as a journalist. I saw firsthand the effects of plagiarism, and I can really talk to students about journalism ethics.”
Hernández has taught at both the high school and college level. She was an English teacher for a year at La Joya High School and taught “Writing for Publication” at the University of Texas Pan American in spring of 2004. She also conducts journalism, writing and literature workshops for both teachers and students.
Part of her job at UHV will focus on coming up with initiatives to help local Latino high school students succeed.
“There are too many Latino students dropping out of high school and too few going on to college,” she said. “It’s important to close the achievement gaps.”
Hernández also will continue to write for newspapers, magazines and television while she is at UHV. Her past projects have included “A Year in the Life of New Immigrants,” a multimedia series in the Dallas Morning News that explored the state’s growing English as a Second Language population, and “The Ballad of Juan Quezada,” a piece she co-produced and reported for PBS/Frontline World.
“Writing is like lifting weights,” she said. “You have to keep doing it.”