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The Midwest Newsroom is a partnership between NPR and member stations to provide investigative journalism and in-depth reporting.

The Midwest Newsroom and Latino News Network partner with Hortencia Zavala Foundation to host intern Isa Luzarraga

Omaha native Isa Luzarraga will be able to report her own audio and digital stories.
Latino News Network
Through the partnership, Omaha native Isa Luzarraga will be able to report her own audio and digital stories.

This summer, the NPR Midwest Newsroom (led by KCUR) and the Latino News Network welcome a summer intern as part of a new partnership with the Hortencia Zavala Foundation. The foundation selected Isa Luzarraga for its 2024 program. Luzarraga is the first intern to be hosted by the Midwest Newsroom.

The Omaha native is a journalism major and honors student at Emerson College in Boston.

“This partnership is thrilling for us,” said Holly Edgell, managing editor of the Midwest Newsroom. “It’s exciting to mentor and coach young journalists who are enthusiastic about the profession and want to produce work that leans into investigative reporting and solutions journalism.”

Luzarraga will be able to report her own audio and digital stories from Nebraska Public Media’s Lincoln newsroom and remotely. NPM is a member of the Midwest Newsroom.

Isa Luzarraga

“Growing up as a Cuban American in Omaha, Nebraska, instilled in me a strong sense of responsibility to positively impact others and create space for immigrant and Latino voices,” said Luzarraga. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from journalists at the NPR Midwest Newsroom and the Latino News Network while covering Latino communities in my home state.”

The HZF was created in 2017 by Hugo Balta and his family to support young journalists while honoring the legacy of their maternal grandmother, “Abuelita,” Hortencia Zavala. Balta is the Publisher of LNN and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).

"I’m grateful for the opportunity to collaborate in providing students with the necessary mentoring, training, and real work experiences they need to succeed,” said Balta.

Luzarraga is a member of NAHJ and served as Secretary in Emerson’s Student Chapter. In 2023, she was recognized by the NAHJ New England professional chapter as a finalist in their first-ever journalism awards ceremony for: ‘I’m not leaving’: How a 21-year-old Salvadoran immigrant is fighting for medical justice, published by Keke Magazine.

An active freelancer, she also serves as managing editor for Emerson’s Your Magazine. “As a writer, photographer, and content producer in the Office of the Dean for the past three years, Isa has contributed valuably to several projects that require creative or unconventional approaches to the work, and in coordination with other team members,” said Paul Pegher, Director of Operations and Communications, Emerson College’s School of Communication.

Luzarraga has interned at the Kansas City Star and The Reader (Omaha). “Isa is great in both independent and collaborative environments,” said Hannah Wise, Assistant Managing Editor for Engagement and Experimentation, The Kansas City Star. “During her internship at The Kansas City Star, she was part of our audience team and regularly collaborated with colleagues on social posts and newsletters. But she also was an independent worker in that I asked her to dive into developing our Threads strategy. She independently chose stories and posted them to the platform and tracked their performance.”

Her first day with the Midwest Newsroom and LNN will be June 5.

About Hortencia Zavala Foundation: Since its inception in 2017, the Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF), a nonprofit organization, has collaborated in providing students with equal access to quality education.

To that end, HZF has empowered students with the necessary resources to overcome educational barriers by awarding scholarships, sponsoring journalism camps, and paid internships.

Karen Campbell is the Director of Institutional Giving & Communications for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at karen@kcur.org.
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