More than 70 people gathered in the desert  – presenters, students, border journalists of all ages and experiences — at the University of Texas El Paso for IRE’s first bilingual version of our Watchdog Workshop. The event included hands-on CAR training and lectures on topics including immigration, storytelling and organized crime by mostly bilingual presenters and IRE members who came in from Texas,Florida, New Mexico and Mexico.

On Friday, IRE, with sponsorship support from Hearst newspapers, offered a dinner to 50 border editors and reporters in honor of Armando Rodriguez, the El Diario reporter killed last year. At the event, we presented a Hearst gift to Rodriguez’ wife and his children and announced that a Juarez journalist would be brought to IRE’s Baltimore conference on a scholarship established for 2009 in his name. The gathering came during a tumultuous week in Juarez, where the police chief was forced to resign after a series of cartel executions of officers, but both the dinner and workshop brought together people covering those difficult stories and allowed them to exchange valuable information that will allow them to do an even better job reporting on myriad issues along the U.S.-Mexico border region. We hope to bring offer additional bilingual workshops in 2009 and 2010 — e-mail the IRE International Task Force or Executive Director Mark Horvit if you have ideas about content, trainers or venues.

— IRE board member Lise Olsen, The Houston Chronicle