Nazario, Sonia 1960-
NAZARIO, Sonia 1960-
Born September 8, 1960, in Madison, WI; daughter of Mahafud (a professor) and Clara (a homemaker) Nazario; married William Regensburger. Education: Williams College, B.A. (history), 1982; University of California, Berkeley, M.A. (Latin American studies), 1988.
Journalist. El País, Madrid, Spain, freelance reporter, 1980; Wall Street Journal, staff reporter in New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Miami, FL, 1982-86, and in Los Angeles, CA, 1988-93; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, staff reporter, 1993-94, staff writer, 1994—.
George Polk Award for local reporting, and Cameron R. Duncan World Hunger Media Award, both 1994, and Guillermo Martínez-Márquez Award, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, 1995, all for "The Hunger Wars—Fighting for Food in Southern California"; Life-Time Award, Institute for Suicide Prevention, 1997, and outstanding reporting on psychiatric issues commendation, American Psychiatric Association, 1998, both for "Suicidal Tendencies: When Kids See Death as an Answer"; Pulitzer Prize finalist in public service category, and National Council on Crime and Delinquency PASS Award, both 1998, both for "Orphans of Addiction"; George Polk Award for international reporting, 2002, Sidney Hillman Prize special recognition, PEN Center USA Literary Award for Journalism, Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award Grand Prize, and Guillermo Martínez-Márquez Award, all 2003, all for "Enrique's Journey."
Contributor of articles to El País, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A full-length book titled Enrique's Journey, Rayo (New York, NY), expected in 2005.
Los Angeles Times reporter Sonia Nazario received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for "Enrique's Journey," a six-part series documenting a Honduran boy's perilous journey to find his mother in the United States. The culmination of two years of research and writing, "Enrique's Journey" was honored with several national awards in addition to the Pulitzer, including the George Polk Award for international reporting and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award Grand Prize.
The idea for "Enrique's Journey" came to Nazario during the mid-1990s, after her conversation with a Guatemalan woman who admitted to leaving her children behind when she immigrated to the United States. Nazario later met one of the woman's sons, who had traveled on his own, mostly riding on top of freight trains, to be reunited with his mother. Annually, an estimated 48,000 children enter the United States from Central America and Mexico without their parents. "I knew it was an important, untold part of the story of immigration to the United States," Nazario wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "It was a way for the Times to take readers on a ride, tell a good story, and maybe cast a little light on the modern-day immigrant experience."
Initially, Nazario was hesitant to begin the assignment. As she recalled, "I knew that if I did this story, and saw things up close enough to write a vivid account, I would have to travel through Mexico with migrants on top of freight trains. I had talked to several immigrants about the dangers involved. I was afraid. Afraid of the gangsters, the bandits, the Mexican police, of being beaten, robbed, raped or losing a leg to the train." After gaining assurances of safety from Mexican authorities, Nazario decided to pursue the story.
Through her contacts in immigrant shelters along the U.S.-Mexican border, Nazario met Enrique and spent weeks interviewing him about his trek, getting "blowby-blow details" of the entire trip, she noted in the Los Angeles Times. Accompanied by photographer Don Bartletti, Nazario flew to the Honduras and began traveling north by bus and train. Nazario and Bartletti spent more than three months retracing Enrique's 8,900 mile trek, including his crossing of the Rio Grande into Texas. "In reconstructing his journey," Nazario wrote, "I tried to carefully follow in his footsteps, to see and experience things as he had seen and experienced them. Along the way, I interviewed many of the people Enrique had encountered during his journey, as well as other immigrants."
Nazario's work on "Enrique's Journey" met with high praise. A press release announcing the Kennedy Journalism Award stated, "The vivid portrayals of human brutality and compassion … animate this series in a way that other more traditional journalism perhaps could not.… The series is part human drama, part powerful social commentary and, as a whole, truly outstanding journalism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Editor & Publisher, April 14, 2003, Sasha Abramsky, "Pulitzer 2003—Feature Writing," p. 23.
Hispanic, May, 2003, "Latinos Win Pulitzers," p. 12.
Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2003, "The World: Two Times Journalists Receive Polk Award," p. A4.
Hispanic Online,http://www.hispaniconline.com/ (November, 2003), Sandra Márquez, "Sonia Nazario."
Los Angeles Times Online,http://www.latimes.com/ (April 20, 2004), "Enrique's Journey."
PEN Center USA Web site,http://www.penusa.org/ (August 1, 2003).
Pulitzer Prize Web site,http://www.pulitzer.org/ (April 20, 2004), "Sonia Nazario."
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Web site,http://www.rfkmemorial.org/ (April, 2003).*