James K. Sanborn is a Washington, D.C.-based multimedia journalist whose work has appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, Military Times, Defense News, American Journalism Review, the San Antonio Express-News and even on The Colbert Report.
He moved to Washington from San Antonio in 2003 to study at American University’s School of International Service. There, he earned a bachelor’s in international relations with a focus on crosscultural communications and Latin America, and a minor in communications while studying foreign correspondence and wildlife filmmaking.
In the spring of 2005, he traveled as an exchange student to Mexico City where he attended the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas − one of Latin America’s premier institutions for political science, economics and law. There, among other themes, he studied illicit narcotics trafficking and transnational crime.
In the fall of 2007, James began graduate studies at the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism. He received multiple awards for his multimedia reporting at Capital News Service, the college’s statewide newswire. The capstone to his CNS tenure was his embedded coverage of the Maryland delegation to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.
While pursuing his graduate degree, he also interned with the San Antonio Express-News, working from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. There, he produced investigative reporting, breaking news stories and covered the devastation wrought upon the region by Hurricane Dolly while operating amidst all-out drug war. By 2008, violence on the border had reached fever pitch and threatened locals, law enforcement and journalists alike.
Later that year, a Carnegie Foundation journalism fellowship would take him to Vietnam where he reported on local corruption surrounding an Asia Development Bank-funded highway project that would leave thousands of peasants undercompensated, landless and unemployed.
In 2009, he began work for Marine Corps Times as the publication’s deputy news editor.
His keynote interviews in that position included director James Cameron on the controversial portrayal of Marines in his 2009 blockbuster Avatar, and Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey immortalized for his role as the sadistic drill instructor in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic Full Metal Jacket.
James was promoted to staff writer in late 2010. Since then he has reported regularly from the Pentagon and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. His beats have included infantry equipment, weaponry, health and technology, aviation, acquisition and contracts, senior enlisted leadership, and manpower and personnel.
He has broken a number of national stories on opening combat roles to women; the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; the use of deadly “synthetic marijuana” by junior enlisted service members; the dangerous use of liposuction and purging by otherwise healthy Marines to fit flawed body composition standards; and the prohibition on the wear of “KIA bracelets” while in uniform to commemorate service members killed during the Global War on Terrorism.
He has appeared on BBC World Service radio, WAMU 88.5′s Kojo Nnamdi Show, WUSA Channel 9, WJLA Channel 8 and has been interviewed by National Public Radio and ABC News.
His personal interests include teaching as a firearms instructor, competitive shooting, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hiking and camping, hunting and wildlife conservation, kayaking, culinary arts, travel, photography, music, history and working on his 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300D Turbo Diesel.