Zahira Torres has been named editor/news director of the El Paso Times.
Torres, 36, returned to El Paso from the Los Angeles Times last year to lead the newspaper’s investigations under former editor Robert Moore. She has deep roots in El Paso and at the El Paso Times.
“El Paso is my home and the El Paso Times is where I honed my love for journalism,” Torres said. “We have a dedicated and talented team that works hard every day to shine a light on issues that are important to El Pasoans, whether it is growth, education or the crucial role the city plays in discussions about the U.S.-Mexico border. That work has been and will continue to be critical in helping this community move forward.”
Torres began her career at the Times straight out of high school, starting as a clerk writing obituaries and then rising through the reporting ranks. She eventually became the newspaper’s bureau chief in Austin, where she worked to connect El Pasoans with their state government nearly 600 miles away.
From late 2011 through spring 2013, Torres also focused her work on one of the most significant investigative reporting projects in the city’s history: cheating and fraud at the El Paso Independent School District.
Through research and source development, Torres uncovered what investigators at the Texas Education Agency and U.S. Department of Education did not — a scheme led by the superintendent to game the federal and state accountability system and deny numerous students their right to an education.
Torres’ reporting helped lead to indictments and prison terms and forced the TEA to acknowledge the problems at the EPISD and sweep away the leadership.
A graduate of Burges High School and the University of Texas at El Paso, Torres went on to work for the Denver Post and then the Los Angeles Times, where she was part of the team that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of the San Bernardino shootings.
Torres’ awards include the Headliners Foundation of Texas’ Charles E. Green Award for Star Investigative Report for her work on the cheating scheme at the EPISD and the James Madison Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, the state’s most prestigious honor for advocacy of open government.
“We’re thrilled to have someone of Zahira’s experience and deep ties to El Paso leading the newsroom,” said Amalie Nash, executive editor for the West region of the USA TODAY Network. “She will continue to build on the tradition of strong watchdog work and community coverage while also focusing on expanding the news organization’s digital offerings and audience.”
“The El Paso Times has a history of strong watchdog and investigative work because of leaders like Bob Moore who believed in its importance and because of all the journalists in the newsroom who are a part of this community and who love this city,” Torres said. “The community has grown to expect that from us and we plan to continue that work.”