A trip to NPR’s ‘Borderland’

If you do nothing else today, make a run to the NPR website that’s been set up in support of the network’s Morning Edition series from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Among other things, it explains why NPR took “radio” out of its name a few years ago in recognition of its many ways of telling stories. And what stories are captured in the “Borderland” app!

It begins with a counter that tells you what’s happened in Borderland just since you started reading:

Among the most impressive aspects is that NPR’s digital team doesn’t just jam radio stories onto a page. Instead, it uses fewer words from reporter Steve Inskeep, which actually makes them more powerful.

It provides a compelling explanation of the border, and the “fence” that’s designed — somewhat poorly — to satisfy calls for more security.

And it makes it hard to turn away, because we’re forced to meet people…

… and confront the empty houses that symbolize the impact of violence.

The border is littered with the things people have to leave behind. Why are we so struck by a tube of toothpaste?

Inskeep powerfully tells the story in the first person.

People drop their possessions as they climb the wall — or are made to empty their pockets as they are arrested. A yellow toothbrush stood out on the path. Others were strewn about, along with two toy helicopters, deodorant and a torn child’s shirt. My 4-year-old could have worn it.

And we are confronted with the “thicket” of the language of Borderland. What do we call the people who cross it?

It’ll take you a half hour to zip through the breathtaking presentation. And then, you get one final head-shaking snapshot.

  • Carol S.

    I heard the first installment of this last week (?). Really good. I wish that Steve Inskeep would do this kind of reporting more often, rather than hosting ME. I think he’s exceptionally good at the reporting bit. When I hear him hosting, I want to turn off the radio more often than not.

  • Greg W

    This was a really interesting. Thanks for posting it, Bob. I, too, had heard the reports on Morning Edition. This just brings the reporting to a whole new level.

  • Jennifer H

    Thank you for this. I am an American married to a Mexican. We lived in Juarez for a couple of years in the late 90’s. Borderland is truly a place unto itself. I work with middle school English Learners, and this is the story of many of my families. Powerful, beautiful, sad, hopeful. Well done.