McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A new book chronicling how four journalists cover remote areas, including the South Texas border with Mexico, will soon be released.
The book, “American Deadline,” is co-authored by Border Report’s South Texas correspondent Sandra Sanchez. It is scheduled to be released May 2 by Columbia University Press.
The book is co-written by Sanchez, who is based in McAllen, Texas, and three other journalists — Greg Glassner, Charles Richardson and Jason Togyer — from the towns of Bowling Green, Virginia; Macon, Georgia, and McKeesport, Pennsylvania, respectively. These are areas where newspapers are dwindling and journalists take on greater roles and geographic regions to bring information to growing populations.
It is set in 2020 when each journalist wrote a monthly column as part of a project that was originally called the “Year of Fear” and was a partnership between Columbia Journalism Review and the Delacorte Project. The dispatches share insight and snippets on these regions, their political leaders and what drives their economies, how immigration affects their communities, how industries affect their health, and how the emerging COVID-19 pandemic changed the course for so many that fateful year.
Border Report ran several of Sanchez’s columns in 2020, with permission from our parent company, Nexstar Media Group. One column was among the website’s top stories for 2020.
Now all of her columns and that of Glassner, Richardson and Togyer, are bound together with an introduction from Columbia Journalism’s Michael Shapiro.
According to Publishers Weekly, the book is a “unique and often heart-wrenching collaboration … the reporting is consistently fine-grained, evocative, and insightful. It’s a fitting testament to the value of local journalism.”
“For those of us trying to bolster local news in the U.S., ‘American Deadline’ offers more compelling evidence for why this coverage matters. In a series of astute, nuanced dispatches, four veteran journalists describe the same year in the life of their disparate communities after their local newsroom has withered or died. Critical elections with no candidate coverage. Rampant Covid misinformation. No government watchdogs. This is front-line reporting that’s a must read,” Kim Kleman, executive director of Report for America said.
Sanchez’s contributions highlight the start of then-President Donald Trump’s border wall, when the first 30-foot-tall steel bollards went up outside the small town of Donna, Texas. She also delves into the mystifying and influential politiqueras — Hispanic political activists who are the rainmakers and determine the next leaders of the Rio Grande Valley.
She adds personal stories of how the coronavirus struck Hidalgo County, on the border with Mexico, and her husband’s own lengthy hospitalization from the novel virus before there were vaccines and at a time when bodies were piling up in refrigerated trucks alongside the highway.
She chronicles a 48-year-old high school teacher from rural Starr County who painted in giant letters on her roof “NO BORDER WALL.” The teacher’s family homestead is on the banks of the Rio Grande and federal agents were entering their property and had put down wooden stakes primed to start building the border wall, which would block her family’s view of the river.
She also detailed the threat of the border wall cutting through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge — known as the “jewel of the national wildlife refuge system” — located on the border with Mexico, which would devastate bird watchers and Winter Texans who flock to South Texas for its subtropical ecosystem.
“American Deadline” is available for pre-order from the publisher in paperback, hardback and as an e-book.