The Story Behind NPR’s ‘A Changing Frontier’ Series

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

While surfing the Internet the other day for diversity-related stories, I came across National Public Radio’s five-part series on the U.S.-Mexican border. I was particularly struck by the way that NPR correspondent Jason Beaubien described the tension that exists between the U.S. and Mexican cities that straddle the border. They are so close geographically, but in theory, they are worlds apart.

Intrigued by the series and interested in learning more about the reporting process behind it, I e-mailed Beaubien with some questions and later talked with him on the phone. When I asked him to sum up his series in one word, he used the same, aforementioned word that kept running through my head as I read and listened to the series: tension. “Since doing this series,” he said, “I sometimes picture the border as an elastic band that’s pulled just to the brink of snapping.”

You can read my Q&A with Beaubien on Poynter Online.