UTEP Alum, Faculty Inducted into National Journalism Hall of Fame
UTEP faculty member Angela Kocherga and alumnus Alfredo Corchado have been inducted into the National Association for Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Hall of Fame, a prestigious honor given to journalists who have made an exemplary impact in the industry. The husband-and-wife duo were honored at the annual NAHJ convention on July 15, 2023, in Miami.
“Angela Kocherga and Alfredo Corchado represent the best of journalism taught at UTEP,” said Anadeli Bencomo, Ph.D., dean of UTEP’s College of Liberal Arts. “Their investigative and intercultural journalism focuses on border stories through a multimedia methodology.”
Founded in 1982, the NAHJ supports more than 4,000 journalists every year, providing career and educational support and honoring the impact Hispanic journalists have in the industry. NAHJ Hall of Fame inductees are chosen based on their efforts to increase the number of Hispanic journalists in the field and to improve news coverage about Hispanic communities in the United States. Corchado, who first joined the association as a student at UTEP and attended the second-ever NAHJ convention in Tucson, Arizona, said being inducted into the NAHJ Hall of Fame felt like coming full circle.
“At that convention [in Tucson], I was able to get some internship offers,” Corchado said. While he received offers from the LA Times and New York Times, he chose to intern with the Ogden Standard Examiner in Utah.
“I went to Ogden and was able to do a series of stories on farmworkers. And then I go a year later to Miami, where the next convention was held, and I got the first ever national award. I think they were trying to send a message they were betting on the future.”
Both Corchado and Kocherga have had storied careers, having covered immigration, the border and other topics in El Paso, Philadelphia, Mexico City and beyond. Corchado currently serves as the Mexico City bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, reporting on immigration, drug wars and the border. He is also the author of the novels “Homelands” and “Midnight in Mexico.”
Kocherga is a professor of practice in the Department of Communication at UTEP, serving as news director of both Borderzine – UTEP’s undergraduate journalism lab – and KTEP-FM (88.5) radio, and a multimedia contributor for El Paso Matters.
She and Corchado have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Award given by Columbia University for courageous reporting in Latin America.
“I think you have to have that inherent curiosity,” Kocherga said. “And you have to really have some sense of caring. I've always seen [journalism] as more than a job. It is very demanding, but it's also very rewarding.”
Kocherga, who was an avid reader as a child, always had a passion for storytelling. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, she got her start at WFAA-TV in Dallas before working in Mexico City, Phoenix and El Paso. She has spent her career working on both sides of the border, from east to west, capturing the lives of the people who live there in her reporting.
“Journalism is the first draft of history,” Kocherga said. “That first draft is very important, because there are so many attempts to diminish, discredit, even erase history. And along the border, we have a responsibility to tell our own stories and to make sure that they're accurate and to bear witness to whatever is happening. And not just the tragedies and the trauma, but the beauty and the innovation and the creativity.”
Born in Durango, Mexico and raised in both California and Texas, Corchado graduated from UTEP in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. As a student, he had the opportunity live, work and report on the border, preparing him for a long career of doing just that.
As a couple working in the same field, Corchado and Kocherga have had the opportunity not only to tell stories important to the border and beyond, but to collaborate on projects, work and live in other places together, and gain a mutual understanding of the emotional rigors and dedication of working as a journalist. Because of this, they are able to support each other even when reporting on difficult topics and as they progress in their respective careers.
“I can't imagine anyone else that I could be married to,” Corchado said. “I think they would just show me the door and say walk away. Because when I say [journalism] is an incurable disease, I mean it is a passionate, passionate profession. And you really have to feel that passion.”
While working for the Wall Street Journal out of Philadelphia, Corchado was home in El Paso on assignment when he met Kocherga at his family’s restaurant, Fred’s Cafe. At the time, he hadn’t realized she, too, was a journalist and felt thrown off by people assuming they were siblings because of the similarities between their last names. All he knew then was that he was smitten.
They were married last year.
Now, the couple calls El Paso home, where they report on important topics and tell the stories they believe need to be told – winning awards, inspiring future generations of Hispanic journalists, and giving an accurate and thoughtful voice to those living on and crossing the border.
“I can’t think of a place I’d rather work or teach or be involved,” Kocherga said.
Last Updated on August 03, 2023 at 12:00 AM | Originally published August 03, 2023
By Julia Hettiger UTEP Marketing and Communications