A Momentous Summer for Brazilian-Born Journalist Fernanda Santos

An award-winning book and shift to academia

In June, the paperback edition of The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a book about the 2013 Yarnell Fire in Arizona and death of 19 specialty firefighters, arrived on the wings of a Spur prize from the Western Writers of America for Best First Non-Fiction Book. Author Fernanda Santos officially accepted the award in late June at the WWA’s annual convention in Kansas City.

This month, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University announced that Santos has joined their faculty as a Southwest Borderlands Initiative professor. She starts Aug. 16. From the release:

“I’ve been a journalist for 20 years, 12 of those at The New York Times, where I learned from some of the best editors and reporters in the business,” she said. “This was the perfect time in my career to step away from daily newspapers. Cronkite gave me a home when I took a leave of absence from The Times to write a book about the deadly wildfire of 2013. I’m honored to be joining the full-time faculty at the school, and I can’t wait to bring my passion and skills to the classroom.” …

Santos will join Cronkite’s Southwest Borderlands Professor Rick Rodriguez, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors. Santos, Rodriguez and Vanessa Ruiz, a former lead anchor on 12 News Phoenix and an award-winning bilingual correspondent who also starts at Cronkite next month, are part of a growing cadre of faculty members specializing in coverage of the border and Latino issues.

After arriving in the U.S. from Rio de Janeiro in the late 1990s, Santos worked for Massachusetts newspapers, the New York Daily News and People magazine before joining the Times in 2005. She leaves the paper at at a relatively turbulent time, with a round of buyouts affecting the copy desk scheduled to be finalized later this week. Santos was most recently Phoenix bureau chief.

Photo by: Nick Oza