New staff writer brings passion for news, photography

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Coming to Socorro from Angel Fire, El Defensor Chieftain’s new staff writer Eric Heinz is not unfamiliar with New Mexico.

John Larson - El Defensor Chieftain: New staff writer Eric Heinz grew up in Denver. He previously worked at the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle in Angel Fire.

Last month, he left his position with the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle to join the staff of El Defensor Chieftain, a move he initially wasn’t sure about.

“I first came down here to check it out. I didn’t know much about it,” Heinz said. “I found out it had exactly what I was looking for.”

His first impression: friendly and amicable.

“An interesting place with intelligent people,” he said. “As soon as I got here I was already having long conversations with people.”

Born and raised in Denver, Heinz had a penchant for reporting and photojournalism at an early age.

“Journalism was always in the back of my head growing up,” Heinz said. “I remember when I was very young, maybe about six, looking at my grandparents’ National Geographic magazines. It was like a gateway to the world. The idea of seeing the world and exploring things fascinated me, and it sort of bloomed later in life.”

While studying for his Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, he was editor of The Mirror, the campus newspaper.

Heinz further honed his news writing and reporting skills at the Johnstown Breeze in Johnstown, Colorado and The Daily Times in Rawlins, Wyoming.

Since he arrived at the Chieftain three weeks ago, Heinz’ expertise with the camera has been more than evident, as exemplified by the photos he snapped at the Fourth of July celebration at Macey Center.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“While I was editor in college, photography was annoying at first,” he said. “Then it became a hobby, then it became a passion.”

Although new to the Socorro area, Heinz is quickly becoming a familiar face at city and county meetings, as well as city and county law enforcement departments.

He said he looks forward to flourishing in journalism in “a community I could get into.”

“I see myself and the newspaper taking a progressive approach to journalism,” Heinz said. “We are in a time when community journalism has been threatened by external factors beyond our control, but with innovation and due diligence, this paper and organization can bring an informative presence to our readership.”

His philosophy to getting the story?

“Have ears will listen,” Heinz said.