NPR intern Encinas covers racial issues as Trump era begins

Jorge Encinas, at NPR studios in Washington, D.C.

Jorge Encinas knew covering the Trump administration as part of his internship at NPR would be challenging, but even he admits he might have underestimated the task.

“Right now, it is a busy environment,” said Encinas, a recent master’s graduate from the University of Arizona School of Journalism. “There is always something to look into or track to see if it could become a potential story as things change and new policies are announced.”

Encinas has stayed plenty busy, developing sources and story ideas, after receiving the internship through the Chip Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism.

He’s working in Washington, D.C., on National Public Radio’s Code Switch team, which produces stories and podcasts to explore “overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, and how they play out in people’s lives and communities,” according to the website.

In his second byline, Encinas wrote a story Feb. 2, "There's A Long, Ignominious Trail Of Bans, Registries And Forced Relocation," following Trump's immigration order that caused nationwide protests for temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In his first byline, Encinas co-wrote an inauguration story,  “As Trump Is Sworn In, Supporters Debate His Role In Healing Racial Wounds.”

“There are a lot of statements that need to be fact-checked,” Encinas, 34, said about the administration. “The best thing that can be done is to not ignore or forget the lesser-known programs and people who may fall through the cracks of the bigger issues.”

Encinas roamed the National Mall during the inauguration. He said his reporting backed up aerial photos that showed the crowd appeared less than the 2009 Obama inauguration, but Trump officials said the media misrepresented the size.

“We can’t quote any numbers, but we can describe how the crowd looked,” Encinas said. “I was able to walk around freely without bumping into anyone. In some parts I could have even waved my arms around, there was so much space available between people. I was standing where the Mall meets the Capitol, so not that far back.”

Encinas, 34, is an Army veteran who served two tours in Northern Iraq. As a UA senior, he received the 2015 SBS Perserverance Award from the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences.

“Jorge added so much to my journalism ethics class with his thoughtful comments and insightful papers,” said UA Journalism Associate Professor Linda Lumsden, who nominated Encinas for the honor. “He’s very smart, diligent and modest.”

Encinas completed the School of Journalism’s Accelerated Master’s Program in December. His master’s project was titled, “Confiscated and Missing: A flawed process fails to return migrants’ possessions.”

“Ultimately, my goal is to get a job in print journalism doing international reporting or science writing,” he said. “I believe both provide a continuing opportunity to serve the public and protect freedom.”

His internship at NPR runs until April 21.

Encinas said he hasn’t had a chance to do much sight-seeing yet, but his apartment is near the Library of Congress. He’s eager to explore museums and the diverse food offerings in the D.C. area.

“For the most part, everyone here has been pretty friendly and helpful,” he said.

Published Date: 

02/03/2017 - 9:29am