November 24, 2004

The Border: An Unread Open Book

By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan

In an unprecedented attempt to express the complexity of the border region to San Diego County residents, rises ‘Stories de la Frontera,’ a televised program that presents human-interest stories that are often overlooked or disregarded by the mainstream media. The arts, history, culture, social issues and challenges that reign in the border will all be exposed in a 30-minute episode.

After working for numerous media outlets, long time journalist and founder of the program, Laura Castañeda decided to create the segment so that the unlimited border stories that are often left untold would be unraveled. After over a year of proposals, draw backs and time restraints the episode will air on KPBS on Thursday, December 2 at 10:00pm .

“The interest [of border issues] from the area and even the country is there,” says Castañeda. “There are so many stories in the region that nobody is telling.”

And stories will be told indeed. Among them lay the daily hustle and bustle routine of street vendors at the border, the story of an Honduran boy who travels north in search of his mother and a personal encounter with at a group of kids who live in an unfavorable environment. In essence, the program delves into the extraordinary that might seem ordinary to the naked eye.

Reaching beyond the palpable stories of immigration, drug trafficking and money laundering, the show presents a full spectrum of border life from both the U.S and Mexico. In an effort to present a balanced, positive, yet realistic view of the border region, engaging stories that form part of the everyday life of people will be brought to light.

“As a reporter for KGTV in San Diego, I was sent out to cover a lot of border issues because I was the only Spanish-speaker in the station,” says Castañeda. “ Unfortunately, a lot of the stories were negative... As my career advanced, I realized that there were a lot stories that were not being covered.”

Stories de la Frontera will present the work of journalists who’ve covered the border for over a decade. Castañeda who formerly worked for KGVT and Channel 4 will host and produce the 30-minute program where she’ll introduce stories from Univision’s correspondent, Carmen Escobosa, NBC’s Jody Hammond and former WB employee Sandra Torres to name a few.

‘The majority of the residents in both sides of the border don’t know enough about each other to truly understand and appreciate one another,” says Escobosa. “ This program gives people an opportunity to truly comprehend key issues without criticizing one another.”

The program’s content will also include original art, music and documentary clips from artists who’ve excelled at their area of expertise. Among them is Laura Irene’s documentary titled “Cruces” which presents an elaborate view of men and women who lost their lives in search of the American Dream.

Even though the program will debut on December 2, there are already high expectations and plans for the segment. As the only English language program of its kind in the region, Castañeda hopes to form a cooperation accord with a Spanish-speaking television station that can translate the program’s news pieces from English into Spanish. In addition, the national transmission of the program, is one of the goals set for the near future. Nonetheless, for now, Stories de la Frontera is scheduled to air four times a year on KPBS.

The inevitable interconnection and dependency each border city has on each other will also be a topic of interest in the episode. Whether it be education, employment, tourism or social gatherings, border residents constantly interchange their culture, ideas, money and time with one another. Nonetheless, these aspects are often taken for granted when it comes to analyzing the intricacy of the border.

“For everything positive and negative that shows up in the border there is always a connection between both countries,” says Escobosa. “At times the reasons are neglected because they are not obvious, but hopefully this segment will help people understand this on a first hand basis.”

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