“Texas Standard’s” Joy Diaz is ending her season as a journalist to start a new adventure. Her final day with the KUT newsroom is Nov. 5.
“While my job as a reporter has been fulfilling, I have started viewing my life through the lens of mission,” says Diaz. “When our newsroom started covering the issues of race and inequality, I recognized I could no longer be unbiased in this historic moment. Change must come from the community – not the media. I want to be part of the change.”
Adding an aspect of urgency to her sense of mission, Diaz and her elementary school-aged son battled COVID-19 in March of this year. She says the experience was a wake-up call. “That’s when it became crystal clear that I could lose my life at any moment, and I don’t want to die with regrets.”
After some thought and consideration, Diaz informed her managers of her plans to leave at the end of this year to explore the next season in her life – running for public office.
Her departure marks the end of an important season for Diaz. She joined the KUT newsroom in 2005, after a stint at WVTF in Roanoke, Va. At the time, KUT’s three-year-old newsroom had only a handful of reporters, so she covered everything from city hall to health, education and immigration.
She joined the “Texas Standard” team soon after the show launched in 2015 and has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work on topics, such as immigration, human rights, healthcare, Mexican-American issues and more.
“When you’ve been following the same stories for 16 years, you start to see patterns. Here in Texas, immigration will never go away, while the story of abortion goes up, down and sideways, but it never goes away. I can pull stories I reported 16 years ago that are still relevant today.”
Several stories have stayed with Diaz over the years, especially the series, reported over four years, about Courtney Meeks who grappled with addiction and mental illness, experienced homelessness, gave birth to a daughter and eventually succumbed to her addiction at age 32.
“I’m so grateful for the access she gave me during her life and the access her family gave me after her death,” Diaz says. “She allowed me to follow her over several years and share her story to educate listeners about women experiencing homelessness, foster care, addiction, family dynamics, services for women and the court system.”
The aspect of seasons is important to Diaz, who grew up in a family of missionaries in Mexico City. “The thread of my life has always been a desire to serve the public. Working as a journalist has been the second season of my public service story. I’m looking forward to my next season of service to the public.”