María (de Lourdes) Hinojosa: 1961—: Journalist
Award-winning Journalist, Author
Hinojosa proved such a natural in radio that she eventually became program director for the Columbia station. She graduated with honors in 1985 with a degree in Latin American studies, focused on political economy and women's studies, and took an internship with National Public Radio (NPR) at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. This led to a position as an NPR production assistant, and by late 1986 Hinojosa was serving as associate producer of Enfoque nacional, its weekly national news program for Spanish listeners, which aired out of affiliate station KPBS in San Diego, California. She became NPR's first Latina correspondent, but left for a brief period when hired as a producer for the CBS News radio network. Hinojosa returned to NPR in the middle of 1988, moved back to the Washington area, and began producing and reporting stories for the NPR programs Morning Edition and its afternoon counterpart, All Things Considered. During this period Hinojosa began winning a number of industry awards for her stories, including a 1989 Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Award for her "Day of the Dead" report.
After relocating to New York City in early 1990, Hinojosa spent a few months at WNYC Radio, and then became a general assignment reporter for NPR's New York bureau. Later that year she began hosting a live call-in public-affairs show for WNYC television, New York Hotline. She continued to file stories for NPR, many of them emphasizing Latino culture in New York City and elsewhere in the United States. In 1993 she launched Latino USA, a radio program on NPR heard in several U.S. markets. Produced from New York City by Hinojosa—though it airs from Austin, Texas—the show serves as a forum for the Latino diaspora. "It's opened up the doors for the rest of America to learn about us, and it's also allowed Latinos to learn about other Latinos," Hinojosa told Pugh in the Houston Chronicle. "If they happen to be Mexicans in Los Angeles, they're learning about Dominicans in New York…. Or they're learning about the fact there are Latinos in Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa." Researching such stories for Latino USA only reaffirmed Hinojosa's commitment to serving as a ground-breaker for her community, as she told Pugh. "Having this outlet has been extraordinary," she said of the show. "It confirms to me what most of the mainstream media still doesn't get, which is Latino stories are important."
Hinojosa's first book, Crews: Gang Members Talk to María Hinojosa, stemmed from another award-winning story she did for NPR. The idea for it came to her after a much-publicized 1990 slaying of a tourist from Utah in New York City by members of a Latino youth "crew." The negative media attention the story received prompted Hinojosa to go into some of the rougher neighborhoods of the city and interview young people who had been portrayed as gang members by the media. She won the trust of several youths from the borough of Queens, who recounted tales of growing up in violence-prone neighborhoods, or in homes where abuse occurred; they explained to her the sense of solidarity and even family that they found as members of a crew. "Hinojosa is a nonjudgemental interviewer," noted Booklist reviewer Stephanie Zvirin, "and the young men and women … seem to respond with honesty."
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