Simon Thompson


Simon Thompson is a reporter/producer for KRWG-TV's Newsmakers.  You can also hear his reports on KRWG-FM.  

Thompson is originally from Australia, where he graduated from Monash University with a B.A in Journalism and Politics.

After graduating, Thompson wrote features and worked as subeditor for a social culture magazine in his hometown of Melbourne.

Thompson came to the United States to travel and embark on a freelance career, sending articles to a string of publications in Australia. After realizing the gravity and extent of crucial issues begging to be covered, Thompson worked to extend his time in the U.S.

Thompson got his start in public media in Indiana at PBS/NPR stations WTIU/WFIU, shooting and producing in depth feature stories for TV and radio.

Thompson chose to come to the southwest during the polar vortex of 2013 – 2014 to report on life in the border region, master Spanish, and get as far away from any future polar vortex as possible.

As an Expat living in the U.S., Thompson has a natural inclination towards immigration issues and has focused his reporting on drug policy, education, and socioeconomic challenges in the region.

Follow Simon on Twitter @SimoThom  for story updates and news, or send him story ideas at

Courtesy: MVEDA

In economically depressed New Mexico, job creation is a top priority for voters and politicians alike. To address the issue, the Martinez administration has increasingly used incentive programs. But studies from Ohio State University, Washington University and other institutions show incentives have little to no effect on long term job creation and are routinely given to companies that would have expanded in the area anyway.

Global Trade Magazine

The city of Las Cruces has announced it’s been named among the best cities for global trade by a national magazine. 

Las Cruces received the ranking by Global Trade magazine following a 210 percent boost in regional export growth last year .  The designation also cited investments in the city from foreign and out of state companies.

Las Cruces economic development coordinator Gary Camarano says though Las Cruces has long held a geographical edge when it comes to international trade it is only just beginning to be recognized. 

Joe Widmer (KRWG)

The presidential election has put the focus on the US-Mexico border security and curbing illegal immigration.

As Simon Thompson reports that has some concerned what this political posturing is going to mean for the quality of life in border communities.

In the Unites States Of America the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution is supposed to protect citizens from random and arbitrary stops and searches.

University of Kentucky

There are as many as 25,000 uses for hemp: Super foods, clothing and cosmetics-
According to industry studies.. Hemp retail products generate as much as $500 million dollars in the US every year. For New Mexico the low water use crop is a chance to maximize profit from scarce water supplies. But hemp’s ill-founded association with marijuana may have derailed New Mexico farmers’ hopes of capitalizing on the emerging hemp market.

Ramon Alvarez worked alongside his father on the family's farm in La Union New Mexico during the brutal drought of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Michael Vadon

Some political analysts say to win the 2016 Presidential election Republicans must do a better job reaching Latinos, millennials and women. Some New Mexico Republicans are worried about another challenge, they’re concerned Donald Trump’s candidacy is compromising the party’s appeal.

Let’s quantify the challenge the Republican party is facing in the upcoming election. According to 2015 Pew Research Center data.

51% of millennials lean Democratic just 35% support Republicans.

When it comes to women: 52% Democratic to 36% Republican.

Simon Thompson

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality New Mexico teachers are among the most poorly paid in the nation.  Starting pay in the Las Cruces district is already ten thousand dollars less than the El Paso Independent Schools.  But it appears pay in Las Cruces will be cut even further due to a budget crisis.

The budget shortfall this year in Las Cruces Public Schools was 7.6 million dollars.  To deal with the crisis the district instituted a hiring freeze, cut the number of assistant principals and even reduced the number of bus stops.  


19 states and Washington D-C have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Across the country there’s an effort to expand these policies. 

Marijuana comprises more than half of all Texas drug arrests and 97% of those were for possession of 2 ounces or less.  An ounce makes about 60 marijuana cigarettes.

El Paso Police chief Greg Allen says those statistics hold true in El Paso. He says those arrested for marijuana possession usually have no prior drug convictions or criminal offenses.

Simon Thompson

In the last 15 years every state in the country has seen a decline in the middle class. That’s according to a Pew Charitable trust study based on Census Bureau.  New Mexico and a number of other states saw about a five percent decline in middle class households.  Only Wisconsin did worse with a decline of about six percent.

The recession left a trail of foreclosure, debt and unemployment. 


As part of a locally negotiated contract, teachers in the Las Cruces Public Schools are allowed ten sick days and two personal days. But following pressure from the New Mexico Public Education Department- during the last school year. Las Cruces teachers were marked down on their evaluations for taking any more than two days off.   One Las Cruces teacher recently told the school board how this policy affected her evaluation. 

Simon Thompson

The nation’s best Spanish spellers from all over the nation flocked to Albuquerque over the weekend to compete in the national Spanish Spelling Bee. New Mexico has dominated the national competition every year since it began. But that is no coincidence, while the national event has only been going for 5 years the Gadsden Independent School District has been holding Spanish spelling bees for more than two decades.

Santa Teresa Middle School 8th grader Andres Arreola won this years competition, defending his 2014 title.

Simon Thompson

The nation’s best Spanish spellers flocked to Albuquerque over the weekend to compete in the national Spanish Spelling Bee. For the fourth year in a row, a southern New Mexican took home the title. 

Santa Teresa Middle School 8th grader Andres Arreola won this years competition, defending his 2014 title.

“I feel so good winning because it is something that you wish and wish for and then you know you got it. It feels so good!” said Arreola.

Simon Thompson

In 2013, Dona Ana County received $9 million dollars in federal money to pave Baylor Canyon road and the unpaved sections of Dripping Springs Road.  But some county residents fought the project and the county commission only approved paving for Dripping Springs Road.

A study commissioned by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce said the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument should generate an additional 7.4 million dollars in tourism every year. 


Café or Communities in Action and Faith says it has received more than 100 reports of companies not paying the full Las Cruces minimum wage. But the lack of enforcement on a city level means those wage violation claims are not being addressed.

Dona Ana County Sheriffs Department

Three Dona Ana County Clerk employees were placed under arrest on Monday on charges of fraud, public corruption and identity theft.

It is the second in a series of arrests, following a federal investigation into a identity theft ring operating out of Mexico, that has allegedly been paying off Dona County Clerk employees to fraudulently notarize documents and cash thousands in stolen federal tax refunds.

District Attorney officials says it is one of the largest in investigation involving identity theft in the country.

Simon Thompson

The Las Cruces Police Department has been using body cameras on a limited basis since 2012. An expansion of the program this June will outfit more than half of uniformed offices with the cameras.

In December 2014 Ross Flynn was taken into police custody on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a police officer and resisting or obstructing a police officer.

Cell footage shows Flynn with his arms handcuffed behind his back repeatedly being dragged, kneed and thrown into the cell’s concrete walls and floor by two former Las Cruces police officers.

Simon Thompson

Only twice has a New Mexican ever won the Scripps National Spelling Bee… 

And both times the victory ended up going to Texas.

A lot of New Mexico’s best spellers only get a shot at making the national spelling bee by crossing state lines and competing in a Texas competition.

New Mexico ranking second to last nationally in both reading and writing the trend might spell out a bigger problem for the state education.

Simon Thompson

In 2013, Dona Ana County received $9 million dollars in federal money to pave dirt sections of Dripping Springs and Baylor Canyon roads all the way up to the Organ Mountains. But some residents remain divided over the plans just months before the work is scheduled to begin.

Simon Thompson

Area residents are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.  But some are concerned about how the surrounding area will be managed. 16 acres of land at the base of Tortugas Mountain is at the center of a long-running dispute.  The landowners are pushing for commercial zoning that could pave the way for retail businesses like fast-food restaurants.

Native Las Crucen Meg Freÿermuth is a professional artist who paints abstract, color drenched portraits of natural landscapes mainly around Las Cruces and Dona Ana County.

  Should the two roads leading up to the Organ Mountains be fully paved?  That is a question that has put a monumental divide between many Dona Ana County residents.

In 2013, Dona Ana County applied for federal money to pay for the proposed road enhancements with the intention of improving public and tourist access to the Organ Mountains and public lands.

In a Tuesday night meeting at the Farm and Ranch Museum County residents got a chance to discuss the proposal.

Simon Thompson

Owners of a parcel of land at the base of Tortugas mountain or ‘A’ Mountain near Las Cruces have been pushing for a commercial zoning that could pave the way for a shopping mall on the site.

But in meeting on Wednesday night the Extra Territorial Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend industrial zoning.  This is consistent with the current land use in the area, where mining companies have been located for years.

Simon Thompson

As part of a locally negotiated contract teachers in the Las Cruces Public Schools could take ten sick days and two personal days before absences started to count against their teacher performance evaluations.

The Public Education department says that the number of days teachers can take without being penalized should be no more than two days and they recently threatened to take over the Las Cruces Public School district if the district did not comply.

Hugo Perez

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers…better known as the PARCC test…has been billed by the New Mexico public education department as latest and greatest in public school testing.  Officials say the test increases standards and will improve college and career readiness.  But some educators say the increased focus on standardized testing might be having the opposite effect.

Simon Thompson

A Michigan State University study says attending a bilingual school may improve reading and math test scores of native English speakers. Research also shows bilingual programs benefit those learning English as a second language.

Despite the benefits the state education department says only 17% of all New Mexico students are in bilingual education and districts are doing what they can to get more students into the bilingual programs. 


Teachers in the Las Cruces Public Schools receive ten sick days and two personal days as part of their contract.  But the state education department says those days should be included as absences on performance evaluations.   The Las Cruces School Board only wanted to provide the state with absence data that did NOT include the personal and sick days.  But some school board members appear ready to bow to pressure after Education Secretary Hanna Skandera threatened to take over the district.

Simon Thompson

Mega drought, climate change or a combination of the two scientists and climate change skeptics may not see eye to eye on what’s behind dryer weather and increasingly scarce water supplies in New Mexico but many agree on the need to dramatically improve water management. 

Simon Thompson

In June of 2013, a small New Mexico village ran out of water.  Magdalena is home to about a thousand people in the central part of the state. Hydrologists regard the village as a canary in the coal mine; a taste of what the future could hold for New Mexico if rising temperatures and scarce water supplies aren’t managed for the future. Almost two years Magdalena’s recovery is shaping the state’s ground water policy. 

Simon Thompson

According to New Mexico State University New Mexico dairies generate one hundred eighty million dollars in economic impact annually in Dona Ana County alone. But that might be coming at the expense of some communities scarce ground water resources.  

While a number of dairies in Dona Ana County will tasked with new ground water monitoring requirements- County residents are concerned they won’t go far enough to protect their drinking water. 

Simon Thompson

Economic development projects throughout New Mexico and Dona Ana County- prioritize job creation- That’s usually done by convincing out of state companies to move in, set up and bring jobs with them. But that might be putting the horse before the cart. Companies operating in the region say they can’t find enough capable workers. Simon Thompson went to a Job to Career Readiness Boot Camp to report on what is being done to improve the quality of Dona Ana County’s workforce.   

Simon Thompson


It has almost been a year  since President Obama designated the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. In the lead up to the anniversary community groups have been working on projects to promote the site. Economists say these projects are key to the monument generating the projected 7.4 million dollars economic activity every year.

About 50 volunteers armed with shovels, rakes and wheel barrels met up at the foot of the Organ mountains for a working day in the weekend sunshine.