News Release
Robert R. McCormick, the long-time publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune, continues to have an impact on the field of journalism long after his death.

Pasos al Futuro,” Spanish for “steps towards the future,” a program at DePaul University that introduces Latino high school students to a career in journalism, recently received a $120,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Now in its third year, the McCormick grant will allow Pasos to grow, notes Cristina Benitez, director of the Latino Media and Communication program at DePaul’s College of Communication

“The program was created to show Chicago Public School (CPS) students what a career in media means,” explains Benitez. “We want the younger generation to know of the wealth of opportunities available in their own backyard and to expose them to career possibilities at an early age in order for them to begin to set goals for themselves.”

Earlier this year, prominent Chicago journalists participated in a one-day symposium that brought more than 100 CPS students to DePaul’s Loop Campus to learn more about a career in journalism and the current state of media.

“Watch and read at least one news item a day,” says WGN-TV news anchor and DePaul alumna Lourdes Duarte when asked for advice on understanding journalism. “It’ll give you a sense of how television stations present the news and the format of how news articles are written.”

Duarte was part of a panel discussing broadcast journalism. She was joined by Aileen Ocana and Marisol Seda of Univision.

A second panel with Fernando Diaz, managing editor of Hoy, and Omar Duque, president and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, focused on print journalism. Break-out sessions on social media and the importance of journalism followed the expert panels.  

The incomparable experience of meeting business professionals in an intimate setting doesn’t end at Pasos, Benitez brings that experience to her DePaul students as well.

Benitez recently secured seats for students and alumni of the program to attend the lecture and book signing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago.

“DePaul gives our students the advantage of living and studying in the third largest media market,” says Benitez. “They hit the ground running upon graduating.”

The winter symposium is a prelude to the summer program in which Pasos transforms into a weeklong workshop.

During the summer, more than 50 students from the Chicago Public High School League will learn the importance of ethics, balanced reporting and proper etiquette for today’s media. They also will learn how to interview, write, produce and edit news pieces. 

“DePaul is at the heart of Chicago, and it is our duty to engage the minds of our students and give them valuable, real-world experiences, beginning with the community that surrounds us,” says Benitez. 

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