Mark Hinojosa dies at age 63, leaving a lasting impact at MU

After a long and fruitful career in journalism and as a professor, Mark Hinojosa dies after an eight year battle with cancer.
Mark Hinjosa passed away on Feb. 21 at age 63. | Photo courtesy of Missouri School of Journalism.

Mark Hinojosa, a journalist, associate professor and loving father, died Feb. 21 after battling cancer for eight years. Although he may not still be around, his legacy will remain for a very long time.

Before becoming an associate professor of convergence journalism at MU, Hinojosa had a long career in journalism. He started at the Kansas City Star, where as a staff photographer he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 in local reporting as part of a team that covered the causes of the Hyatt Regency hotel walkway collapse.

Hinojosa also spent time at the Chicago Tribune and later the Detroit News, at both places working toward making the internet and social media being seen as a serious medium for these large news outlets.

He worked in several different associations as a board member like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

David Kurpius, MU School of Journalism dean started at the School of Journalism the same year as Hinojosa and had much to say on the loss of such a great professor and faculty member.

“I knew him well. He was a great faculty member, really engaged,” Kurpius said. “Pretty infectious in the way he approached his work and pretty excited about the opportunity to be at [the Missouri School of Journalism] doing that work.”

Hinojosa served as a voice of the unspoken for Kurpius, always trying to promote and bring to light different perspectives that may have been overlooked otherwise.

“Mark made sure that some things didn’t get overlooked, that ideas got into the discussion, that when we were looking for professionals that we looked at different people who may not have come on our radar,” Kurpius said.

Although Kurpius and Hinojosa were always business first, it was apparent that they shared a personal relationship as acquaintances.

“I’d go down and see him in his office and we’d have long discussions about all sorts of things journalism and non-journalism,” Kurpius said.

Kurpius respected the work and respect Hinojosa had for his students.

“Mark loved students. He pushed them really hard, and he also lifted them up to help them succeed,” Kurpius said. “You can’t fake caring about students, and Mark was the poster person for that.”

Hinojosa’s love for students is still apparent postmortem through his Fund for Future Journalists. If the goal of $25,000 is reached, it will go towards the School of Journalism. To donate to the cause, click here.

“We’re hoping it gets to the level of being an endowment, and Mark wants it to help students,” Kurpius said. “We’ll use it to help students succeed.”

The students who encountered Hinojosa through either his classes or the clubs he advised like the Online News Association Mizzou also expressed a deep sadness after hearing of his passing.

Kaleigh Feldkamp, Online News Association Mizzou President, shared that Hinojosa’s time as an adviser was about helping and facilitating the growth of students and the club.

“His approach [was] very hands off, but it’s because he trusts us as an exec board to kind of do what we need to do,” Feldkamp said. “He always used to say ‘I’m just here to steer you back in the right direction if you go off course.’ So that was really nice because we never felt coddled or suffocated by his advising; he was exactly what an adviser should be — there when you need him, not there when you don’t.”

It was apparent that students who had been in contact with Hinojosa were very attached to him. Feldkamp described him as an acquired taste; someone rigid to know at first but once you got to know him, you saw that he truly cared for you.

“He’s a very intimidating person when you first meet him … but once you get to know him, you realize he’s just like that on the outside,” Feldkamp said. “ … he wants you to realize ‘you did this wrong, don’t do this again,’ because he wants you to succeed. Everyone I talked to about Mark said that he saw things in themselves that they didn’t even see.”

Hinojosa’s death made waves, with people from his past even coming out to express their condolences.

Hugo Balta, National Association of Hispanic Journalists President, also emphasized Hinojosa’s impact.

“We are saddened by this loss; Mark was an example of what NAHJ believes in, he was not just a journalist, but an advocate for the next generation of journalists,” Balta said in a press release. “He served our community and had a great impact on future generations of Latino journalists.”

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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