PRESS Staff Report
The Port Isabel-South Padre Press has hired award-winning journalist Sasha Heller to serve as the paper’s managing editor.
The Atlanta native joins the staff after working as the reporter at The Pampa News, a daily in the Panhandle. Heller has also worked as a news editor for The Enterprise-Tocsin in Indianola, Miss.; reporter at The Rio Grande Sun in Espanola, N.M.; and staff writer at the Daphne Bulletin in Daphne, Ala.
Heller won a Best Investigate Series first-place award in 2010 from the Mississippi Press Association. For that series, Heller wrote seven articles covering the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MED) historic audit of the Sunflower County School District (SCSD). The audit uncovered that SCSD had failed all 37 of the state’s accreditation standards. Heller interviewed school officials, teachers, students and parents to provide in-depth reporting of the monumental education scandal.
Most recently, Sasha won a Best Features second-place award in 2012 from the Panhandle Press Association. That award covered two feature articles: one was about a Pampa native who had spent the last few years in Afghanistan helping set up the wartorn nation’s medical infrastructure; and the second feature shared the story of a Vietnam veteran reuniting with a South Vietnamese translator he had served with during the war. The veteran had nearly shot the translator one night by mistake, thinking the translator was a member of the Vietcong. Forty years later, the veteran was speaking about the war with a lawyer from Chicago who asked if he could interview the veteran, to which he said of course. The lawyer later uploaded the video of the interview to YouTube. The Vietnamese translator saw the video on YouTube and then sought out the person who had uploaded it. The lawyer then connected the translator with the veteran and they rekindled their friendship.
Heller is a 2008 graduate of Georgia Southwestern State University.
“I bring a wealth of experience to this paper and am excited about the opportunity,” Heller said.
Sasha is a versatile young, creative editor who understands the meaning of community journalism.
“My journey of self-discovery has led me to your doorstep, Port Isabel and South Padre Island,” he said. “Show me what you have to offer.”