Maria Mendez

Service and engagement reporter • The Texas Tribune
Last edited June 13, 2023

Maria Mendez became a reporter because she wanted to empower people with information to understand the world and better their lives and communities. This led her down the path of community engagement and service journalism.

Maria dreams of a world where people, including those in news deserts or who may face digital or language barriers, have access to news that reflects their experiences and helps them take action in their communities.

With this fellowship, she is looking to connect with journalism innovators already doing similar work and learn the leadership and organizational skills needed to execute her ideas.

MJ Bear Fellowship Project

Shortly after becoming The Texas Tribune’s service and engagement reporter in 2022, Maria helped relaunch The Tribune’s texting line with a focus on the midterm elections.

The Tribune first launched the texting line during Texas’ infamous 2021 winter storm to send essential updates and information at a time when many lost power and had trouble with cell service. Now, Maria wants to develop a strategy to more consistently and broadly engage with the texting line subscribers as well as a workflow that makes this an integral feedback loop for the Texas Tribune’s newsroom.

Maria plans to serve Texans across the state while preparing a case study for newsrooms to move beyond unstable social media platforms and more directly provide actionable, service journalism.