The Houston Defender was founded in October 1930 and serves the Houston area which includes Harris, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties. As Houston’s leading Black information source, the Defender continues to provide the community with news, sports, lifestyle, business, politics and more.
NPR and Texas public radio stations collaborated to form the Texas News Hub. It’s the first step in a systemwide collaborative project to create a nationwide virtual public radio newsroom of 1,000-plus journalists. The collaboration includes two daily, hour-long statewide programs (Texas Standard and Think) and will soon include six daily statewide newscasts, and a statewide digital news desk. The Hub is working to hire and train freelance and small station reporters to provide news service to underserved communities in the state’s news deserts.
Leo Bertucci covers energy and environment for the Victoria Advocate in Victoria, Texas. Prior to joining the Advocate, Bertucci served as a newsletter editor and news reporter for Western Kentucky University’s student newspaper, the College Heights Herald. Bertucci also wrote feature stories and previewed local events as a summer intern for the Daily News in Bowling Green, Kentucky. When he is not writing stories, Bertucci enjoys visiting baseball stadiums and eating hot peppers.
Jeffrey Ruiz covers disinvested neighborhoods in search of solutions for the city's systemic inequalities in Dallas, Texas for Dallas Free Press. While an undergraduate at the University of North Texas, Ruiz was a special contributor for The Dallas Morning News and reported on a city redevelopment project in McKinney, Texas that cleared an entire mobile home community. His bilingual skills in Spanish played a major role in this investigative piece. Ruiz enrolled in a practicum with The North Texas Daily as a news reporter covering social issues at the local and county level, based on initiatives and programs declared by the city council and the administration of UNT. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism with a concentration in digital and print media. Whenever he isn’t reporting, Ruiz spends his time serving the community through his local church.
Kierra Sam is a political reporter for the Houston Defender Network, covering issues of environmental racism, criminal justice, voter suppression and more. A Texas native with a passion for storytelling and keeping communities informed about the world around them, Kierra attended the University of Houston and received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish. While at the university, she worked on several video projects with different departments and also interned at KPRC Channel 2 News in Houston. Kierra started her professional journalism career as a digital MSJ at an NBC/ABC news affiliate television station in Beaumont, Texas. She has reported on stories covering hurricanes, plant explosions, criminal investigations, as well as profile pieces. Outside of news, Kierra likes to go to music festivals, take road trips and explore new places with family and friends.
Caroline Love is the Collin County reporter at KERA in North Texas, an NPR affiliate station and the leader of The Texas Newsroom, a public radio journalism collaboration across the state. Previously, Love covered daily news at Houston's NPR station, Houston Public Media. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University—with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism—where she reported feature stories that aired on KERA and the Texas Standard. In her free time, she enjoys bullet journaling and attempting to recreate the recipes she finds on TikTok.
Chase Cofield covers the rural communities surrounding Victoria, Texas as staff photographer for the Victoria Advocate. Before joining Report for America, Cofield worked on the photo desk at The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s independent student newspaper, covering a variety of stories ranging from sports to local communities. Cofield also was a staff photographer for Coulture Magazine, a student-run fashion magazine. He shadowed photographers on assignments for Indy Week and was a 2021 summer fellow for Education NC, where he documented and photographed summer school programs in North Carolina. Cofield enjoys DJing and music production. He was a DJ for his campus radio station, WXYC 89.3, and co-coordinated one of their specialty shows, New Science Experience.
Hannah Norton covers the Texas Legislature and state politics for Community Impact Newspaper, a hyperlocal news organization based in Austin, Texas. She is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor's degree in journalism and an emphasis on print and digital news. While there, Norton reported for the Columbia Missourian, the university’s community paper, focusing on state government, social justice issues and homelessness. She has interned with Euractiv, a Brussels-based media network that specializes in political coverage of the European Union. A native of Seattle, Norton loves spending time outdoors and traveling.
Jayme Lozano covers rural news in West Texas for The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit digital news organization based in Austin. Prior to this, Lozano reported on the rise of rural hospital closures in Texas for Lubbock’s NPR station, KTTZ, and the PBS series “Frontline.” Her journalism career started at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal as a copy editor, and as a reporter she reestablished the regional news beat. Lozano studied journalism at South Plains College and Texas Tech University. Her work has earned awards from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.
Priscilla Totiyapungprasert reports on local health issues for El Paso Matters, a nonprofit news outlet based in El Paso, Texas. Previously, she covered food culture and dining in Phoenix for The Arizona Republic, including reporting on immigrant communities, the restaurant industry, school nutrition and labor abuse. Totiyapungprasert started at The Arizona Republic as an environment fellow, analyzing the disparity in neighborhood air quality and reporting on the health impact of Phoenix air pollution. Holding a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin, she has worked in Germany and Malta.