Fort Worth Report’s newest staffer, Cristian ArguetaSoto, doesn’t like the phrase “product of my environment,” but he says it sort of fits.
He grew up on the South Side of Fort Worth and attended Alice D. Contreras Elementary and J.P. Elder Middle School for a year before transferring to Rosemont in seventh grade “because the bus driver would make me late to school every day, and I wanted to avoid having to go to court for truancy.”
Paschal High School was a struggle, too.
“I say I attended Paschal in quotation marks because I was not all the way there mentally and academically due to having to work so much,” Cristian, now 22, recalled.
His family’s support kept him grounded, though. His father, Alberto Argueta, 49, is a landscape worker at Texas Christian University while his mother, Veronica Argueta, 45, works there as a housekeeper. His older brother, Tito, works at a bank while his younger sister, Leslie, works at a doughnut shop.
His father grew up in Arroyo de la Luna, Mexico, which translates to “Creek of the Moon.” He worked on a farm during his childhood and was a standout futbol player. He migrated to the United States in 1991 for better financial opportunities, Cristian’s mother, who grew up in a nearby rancho, or small town, came to the United States in 1993. They started their family in 1996 when Tito was born.
As the middle child of immigrant parents, Christian learned hard work from an early age, but he never thought he’d make it to college. After he made it to TCU, he still didn’t think he could make it through four years.
Fortunately, he almost immediately met Jean Marie Brown, TCU assistant journalism professor and director of student media. She hired him as a photographer at TCU360.com the first semester of his first year and became his adviser, mentor and boss all four years.
“She gave me the opportunity to travel to different cities to cover sports,” Cristian said. “Who knew a young boy from the South Side of Fort Worth could be walking around Times Square in New York because he decided to become a photographer in high school? Jean made it possible for me to see things outside of Fort Worth and then come back to appreciate the best things about the city.”
Brown recommended Cristian, who graduated in May, for our first class of Fort Worth Report journalism fellows this summer. When I met him at Ascension Coffee, 1751 River Run, I knew right away he would be the first fellow we hired. He had the perfect blend of intelligence, humility and drive needed at a start-up publication creating a new model for local journalism.
We extended his fellowship past the summer and were delighted when our members’ support allowed us to add him to our staff as our first community engagement journalist. In this role, you’ll find him all over Fort Worth and Tarrant County taking photos and telling the stories of underserved communities.
As a product of his environment, Cristian is working hard to make Fort Worth a better place.
“This is where I live,” Cristian said. “I have a stake in what is happening. I have an obligation to the residents of Fort Worth. My job is to amplify their voice and their concerns or successes.”
Chris Cobler is the CEO and publisher of the Fort Worth Report. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also encourages readers to stop by the Report’s offices at Trinity Coffeehouse, 2700 Weisenberger St., to share their views with him and the staff.
For What It’s Worth
Editor’s note: Publisher/CEO Chris Cobler is a nostalgic Baby Boomer who likes to name his columns after 1960s protest anthems. When he was editor of the Washburn University Review in 1980 in Topeka, Kan., he called his column “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Now that he’s in Fort Worth, he can’t resist the title of another of his favorite songs, “For What It’s Worth.”
Although the songs are political, Cobler pledges to keep his columns focused on the community and not partisan politics. The mission of the Fort Worth Report is to bring people together around fact-based journalism, making this line in the Buffalo Springfield song especially meaningful: “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”