June 13, 2022

David Hinojosa, an alum of 1st SJI class, reflects on 2021 APSE award

Roshan Fernandez

David Hinojosa, an alum of the inaugural Sports Journalism Institute class in 1993, was among six SJI alums who earned top-10 honors in the latest Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest.

Hinojosa, who covers high school sports for the San Antonio Express-News, and three colleagues placed in the project writing category for the second-consecutive year

Their project looked back at the sports world that was shut down due to the COVID pandemic. Hinojosa’s story was an oral history of the abrupt suspension of the boys basketball state tournament in San Antonio. Other stories included the COVID shutdown from the San Antonio Spurs perspective, the Texas State collegiate basketball’s perspective and an overarching column from Mike Finger.

Alongside Hinojosa, SJI alums Ryan McFadden, Chris Bumbaca, Baxter Holmes, Alex Prewitt and Parth Upadhyaya all earned Top 10 APSE honors in various categories such, as event coverage, breaking news and projects. Prewitt earned first place with co-worker Stephanie Apstein for Sports Illustrated in the Breaking News category for Division A for their June article on pitch doctoring in Major League Baseball.

Hinojosa was covering the Texas boys basketball tournament in the Alamodome when the sports world shut down in March 2020, and he remembers the uncertainty at the time surrounding coronavirus. 

“I thought it would be a good idea to talk to everybody who was there and capture that moment, and compare it to where we were a year later,” Hinojosa said. “I had that unique perspective because it unfolded in front of me.”

Hinojosa structured the story as an oral history because he felt that’d be more digestible for readers. It was more fitting for his sources to recall the events in that manner too, particularly because Hinojosa was there with them. “We were able to recall a shared experience,” he said. “I think I was able to get a good reaction from them because I knew exactly where they were coming from.” 

Hinojosa said he knew the story would be well-received. He said the award is particularly special because the San Antonio Express-News has just five or six sports reporters despite being one of the largest newspapers in the state.

“For us to get an award on a national level like that, I think is amazing,” Hinojosa said. “I'm very proud to work for a staff like that because we are grinders. We grind for us to handle a big project like this.”

Hinojosa also is very appreciative of being a part of the first SJI class. He still remembers when Leon Carter, an SJI co-founder, picked him up from the airport in Norfolk, Va.,  for the start of the program. Hinojosa said Carter told him that he hoped the program would work out, but there was a lot of uncertainty about that first year. 

“He should be given a massive amount of credit for not only knowing that newsrooms had to be diversified, but just look at the alums that have sprouted from this program,” Hinojosa said of Carter. “It's amazing.”

Hinojosa cherishes his memories from SJI. Boot camp wasn’t easy, and it was a “grind,” but he learned a lot from his peers and grew close to a wide variety of people he wouldn’t have normally seen in his “South Texas bubble.” Hinojosa interned at the Dallas Morning News on the copy desk that summer and was later hired full time.

“Those were some of the best times of my life,” Hinojosa said of SJI. “That really shaped me, I think.”

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