OC Register Immigration Reporter Traveled to Mexico, Guatemala for Sea Smuggling Enterprise Series

Aaron Kushner, the new owner of the Orange County Register, has stated that he considers the newspaper’s Sunday print edition and subscribers key lynchpins of an audacious revitalization plan. As an added bonus, the next three week’s editions will feature a dynamic new model of investigative journalism, one that was set up before his arrival.

Immigration reporter Cindy Carcamo (pictured) spent upwards of seven months working on an enterprise series about the high cost and equally steep dangers of the Pacific Ocean route many illegal immigrants are currently favoring to try and gain entry to the U.S. All of her related travel and accommodation costs were paid for by the Ford Foundation, via a fellowship administered by D.C.’s International Center for Journalists.

“I pitched the sea smuggling enterprise story to the Center, and they liked it” Carcamo explains to FishbowlLA via telephone. A previous series she worked on, about the reverse flow of Mexicans returning to a portion of the country, was funded by UC Berkeley’s Rosenberg Foundation. “I’ve managed to be able to squeeze out this big enterprise stories through just kind of looking for outside funding, when times have been really hard at the Register for funding.”

“I also took a week-long workshop at the Center on how to shoot video,” she adds. “So I was able for example to track down the family of one of the first fatalities of this sea smuggling phenomenon in Guatemala and film the woman’s family, visiting her grave. Which was a journey in itself – a 30-minute trek uphill. These and other elements will be part of our enhanced Web/mobile coverage for the series.”

Another element of the series on the Internet will be an interactive map pinpoint the year and location of sea smuggling apprehensions. “The map really captures how the trend if illegal immigrants trying to bypass increased land security has been increasing,” explains Carcamo, who earned a journalism degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and got her full-time start at the Fresno Bee..

The sea smuggling series will also be published in Spanish in the Freedom Communications, Inc. sister publication Excelsior.

“We really wanted to get the humanity behind these events and statistics,” says Carcamo. “I spoke with various people to show why and how people are traveling the sea route. A lot of these people are completely unaware of how dangerous it is. At the end of the day, it’s a story of how the federal government has clamped down so much on the land border that it’s moved the flow to other places and benefited the drug cartels and smugglers. The harder it is to get in, the more money would-be immigrants have to pay.”

Carcamo’s editor on the series was Susan Vardon.

Part 1: “For Illegal Immigrants, Ocean is the New Desert

Update – 09/17/12: What a difference a workday makes.  Via Facebook, Carcamo announced she is leaving the Register to work for the LA Times as an Arzona based reporter. She starts her new job October 1. Congrats.