Walter Pacheco Managing Editor
Walter started his nearly 20-year journalism career writing about South Florida's gourmet cuisine and shooting the region's best chefs and their gastronomic creations. He covered municipal politics and redevelopment at the Miami Herald for several years before moving to Orlando, where he helped launch the Orlando Sentinel's first Spanish-language publication, El Sentinel. Several years later, he helped develop the Orlando Sentinel's early breaking news team. He covered Central Florida hottest crime news, including controversial stories like the Casey Anthony murder case and the George Zimmerman story on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Walter also wrote about the region's technology and social media industry. He is now the managing editor for Debt.org, providing online readers a community with news about student loans, debt settlements and loan consolidation.
Walter Pacheco Biography
Walter is a journalist at heart with a penchant for news about technology, crime, the media and food.
He started his nearly 20-year career in journalism covering one of his favorite pastimes: Delicious gourmet meals. A few weeks after graduating from Florida International University, Walter served as reporter and photographer for the South Florida Gourmet magazine – one of Miami’s leading foodie publications about high-end restaurants, chefs, the restaurant industry and, of course, gourmet food.
Walter spent most of his time in the kitchens of some of South Florida’s finest restaurants – from Key West to Fort Lauderdale – talking with world-renowned chefs about food preparation, the history of a region’s cuisine and shooting photos of a chef’s gastronomic creation to feature in the magazine.
Shortly afterward, he put aside the tasty side of journalism for the daily grind of politics, redevelopment and municipal news for the Miami Herald. Walter covered several beach communities, including Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Sunny Isles Beach and Golden Beach. His stories ranged from controversial redevelopment of luxury high-rise condos that blocked home owners’ views of their pristine beach to alleged witchcraft against city commissioners.
While those shenanigans made for some quirky coverage, the Orlando Sentinel offered him a unique opportunity: Reporting en español – his parents’ native language. The newspaper was preparing to launch its first Spanish-language publication, El Sentinel, as was looking to build a team to run it. Walter accepted the offer and was the weekly publication’s first reporter.
He covered three counties where the Hispanic population had not only grown dramatically, but was starting to become a political force in the area. Walter wrote about religion, politics, education, lifestyle and other topics related to the Hispanic community. Some of his coverage brought changes to how the Orange County Public School district enrolled immigrant students and he won several state and national journalism awards for his coverage.
After a few years of building El Sentinel and securing its place as the go-to newspaper among Spanish-speaking readers, Walter headed the Orlando Sentinel’s AM Team – the paper’s first group of reporters dedicated to breaking online news. That gig morphed into a crime beat, where he covered the Orange County Jail, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and other crime-related news in Central Florida.
His break on that team was the Casey Anthony case. The national story, involving the disappearance of 2-year-old Caylee Marie Anthony and the accusations of first-degree murder against her mother Casey, garnered him interviews on ABC’s 20/20, CNN and other national and international broadcast news.
Walter won several national and local awards for his coverage of that case and others, including the downtown Orlando shooter who went on a rampage at his former place of employment and the controversial George Zimmerman case on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The next step in his career: Technology and social media. Walter spent several years covering the importance of technology and social media in Central Florida, from the group of geeks who build computers and robots in the Longwood-based FamiLAB warehouse to designers and developers who build professional video-games at EA Sports in Maitland.
More than a decade after covering hard news and technology in Orlando, Walter joined Debt.org as the website’s managing editor. He uses his experience to flesh out writers’ stories on debt – a social ill affecting most individuals, business owners and enterprises across the nation. He’s also part of the company’s mission to provide online readers a community about student loans, consolidation and other debt-related issues affecting their lives.
- Aug 20, 2013
The Department of Education is nearing completion of its transfer of millions of federal student loans to a new set of loan servicers, but the process did not come without a few glitches. Officials announced last week that the transfer of all student loans ...