For 10 years, Mabel Jiménez has used her talents as a photo editor to mentor young, aspiring journalists at El Tecolote, a bilingual publication based in the diverse Mission District. Her role has brought much needed diversity and advocacy for young Latinx journalists in the colorless community known as mainstream journalism.
“Mainstream publication makes it so hard for Latinos especially to break in this industry,” Jiménez said as she sipped her tea in El Tecolote’s garden.
Jiménez has served on El Tecolote’s production team for 10 years. Hailing from the halls of SF State’s journalism department, Jiménez is a factor of El Tecolote’s success over the years with countless awards and recognition throughout the community.
Earlier this month, Jiménez announced her resignation from the publication via open letter through El Tecolote’s website.
“In these 10 years since I started here, El Tecolote and Acción Latina have become deeply intertwined with the fabric of my life, from the community events I’ve experienced, to the friends I’ve made and the stories we’ve covered together,” she wrote.
Though she was born in the U.S., Jiménez spent most of her childhood and teen years in her hometown of Tijuana, Mexico. Yet Jiménez chose to return to the U.S. to further her higher education at SF State.
“I had a good experience at San Francisco State,” she said. “All the teachers I had were very committed.”
Her interest in journalism started with her love of imagery and visuals. “Obviously, I love journalism too, but it has always been about the visuals and the artistic side,” Jiménez said.
“It has always been about the picture. It became how to marry that part of the image, the visuals, the aspects of things, with ‘how do I do something that I feel good about, not just for me, but for the greater world?’” She jokingly called her statement “cheesy” but accepted it as “the truth.”
Jiménez’s love for imagery soon landed her a volunteer position with El Tecolote. That volunteer position would later be turned into an editor position.
“She was more than just a photo editor, she was an assistant editor. She would help me with layouts, story ideas. Her presence is definitely going to be missed,” said El Tecolote’s editor-in-chief Alexis Terrazas.
Their relationship began in the Xpress newsroom in 2008. From there, the duo has worked closely producing content for the Latino community.
Diversity has never been an issue with El Tecolote, but when Jiménez and Terrazas first began their journey at the Xpress, they sensed a lack of diversity in the newsroom.
“Her and I were one of the only Latinos on staff. I remember just a handful of us, there wasn’t that many,” Terrazas recalls.
Jiménez made it her duty to have a more inclusive staff, mentoring many young Latino journalists around the area and many coming from SF State.
Destiny Arroyo, a recent SF State graduate, shared her thoughts on Jiménez and her duties as a mentor. “It’s extremely important to have Latino mentors, especially in the media industry. Not only does she represent people of color but also women,” said Arroyo.
“Mabel always paid attention to detail when I would turn in my stories. She always wanted to shine the light on the positive stories within the Latino community because we are typically represented in a negative way.”
Jiménez and El Tecolote’s staff strive for excellence when it comes to reporting. They also feel the need to welcome anyone with an interest in serving their community with open arms.
“One thing that makes El Tecolote different is that we’re never going to say that you have to be at a certain level to work with us,” Jiménez said. “To us it’s more important that you have the interest and desire to serve your community. We can work with that.”
Now, Jiménez says goodbye after 10 years at El Tecolote, leaving a legacy that will stay with the publication forever.
She now hopes to focus more on her freelancing career and better her craft behind the lens.