In mid-2008, LatinosforObama.com was a default Blogspot. This was a sad effort alongside some of other ethnic advocacy sites launched by the Obama for America media machine. Recognizing that the campaign's funding priorities were elsewhere, I searched for skilled Latinos in online media who might volunteer to help improve the site. Unfortunately, back then Latino talent in online media was hard to find. Fast-forward three years and Latinos are finally making a mark in the online media landscape. Below are 7 digital Latinos (listed alphabetically by first name) establishing their cred in the online media landscape. Look for them to continue to shine in 2012.
- Adriana Maestas (Co-Founder & Editor of Daily Grito): Adriana is the godmother of Latino political blogging. In 2007, she launched LatinoPoliticsBlog which quickly became the essential daily read in a Latino blogosphere in its infancy. Over the years, her epic watchdogging of the Latino political sphere extended to Latino advocacy organizations as well. As inside sources began to reach out to her, she became more than a blogger, facing ethical decisions that had traditionally been the burden of senior editors at legacy media organizations. Now Adriana has teamed up with Latina political strategist Alicia Menendez to launch Daily Grito. As the publications gets off the ground, a slew of heady contributors have gotten on board to create what may be the first scaleable Latino political publishing enterprise online. Look for Daily Grito's readership and impact to grow in 2012.
- Fernando Diaz (Managing Editor of Hoy Chicago): Fernando's newsroom rise has been mostly Chicago-centric (he worked early-on at the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York) . Fernando studied journalism at Chicago's Columbia College before reporting for the now-defunct Chi-Town Daily News and the Chicago Reporter. He is now managing editor of Hoy Chicago -- the Tribune Company's Spanish-language newspaper -- and a Board Member for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). I first contacted Fernando a couple of weeks ago about rebuilding and redesigning NAHJ's website. Two brainstorms later and already we've begun forging a collaboration to redefine what a newsroom advocacy website can be. Look for the new NAHJ.org's launch in early-2012.
- Kety Esquivel (Vice President for Digital Influence for Ogilvy): Kety's unassailable media credentials as both a public relations consultant and a speaker are apparent in her Huffington Post bio. I first heard of Kety when Ogilvy began collaborating with Qorvis (where I work) on Marca País - Imagen de Mexico, an initiative to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and unrivaled tourist destination. Her tireless efforts built an Ambassador Program of bloggers to help with the Mexico Today initiative. As Kety continues to cut her teeth as a PR executive and collaborator, look for her stock to continue to rise in digital communications in 2012.
- Maria Abad (Associate at Qorvis): I met Maria at Qorvis, where we both work. Like me, she's a workaholic hellbent on expanding her digital skillset. Through client work I began tutoring Maria with my own humble skills in Wordpress. Soon, Maria was tutoring me in plugin and theme debugs. She also launched her own blog, Maria On Point, which she quickly translated into English, Spanish, and German. While Maria and I continue to work in Wordpress, it is the deployment of her trilingual skills on her blog that earn Maria a spot on this list. Ultimately, accessibility is key to successful digital content. In this regard, Maria is indeed on point. I look forward to watching her skillset continue to boom in 2012.
- Marie D. De Jesús (Staff Photographer at the Democrat & Chronicle): Marie is a proud native of Puerto Rico and a graduate in the first class at the New York Times Journalism Institute. In college, she interned with the Orlando Sentinel before cutting her teeth as a Staff Photographer at The Advocate in Victoria, Texas. She now shoots for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York where earlier this year the Associated Press recognized a photograph she took of U.S. Women's Soccer star Abby Wambach. Marie's photo and video sage has been apparent throughout career, but she recently made the move into wordsmithing with a personal narrative about her return to Puerto Rico, which ran in the Democrat and Chronicle's Sunday magazine.
- Nathan Olivares-Giles (Staff Writer at Los Angeles Times): Nate's official title at LATimes is Staff Writer and his daily contributions to the publication's Technology blog are consistently excellent. But Staff Writer doesn't do justice to the fierce skillset he brings to the publication as a digital storyteller. In addition to writing, Nate shoots and edits video for LATimes Sports and video-blogs reviews of the latest Apple OS updates. On Twitter and Facebook, Nate is a machine, promoting both his tremendous content output and shouting-out to his colleagues' work. As newsroom Latinos continue to decline, Nate is has been a notable exception in 2011 -- not only by keeping his job, but by increasing his essentiality to LATimes online. Having recently made his debut as a technology commentator on network TV in Los Angeles, look for Nate's stock at LATimes to continue to boom in 2012.
- Steve Alfaro (Director at Voto Latino): Steve is Voto Latino's graphic designer maven. His work for Voto Latino includes everything from designing buttons encouraging participation in the 2010 Census, to producing TV spots featuring celebrities like Rosario Dawson and Wilmer Valderrama. Further, Steve has designed posters for progressive movements that that appear all over the web. From solidarity campaigns with Wisconsin workers, to movements against Arizona's anti-Latino legislation, to more-recent #OccupyWallStreet demonstrations sweeping the country, Steve's increasingly define progressive advocacy through graphic art mediums. Look for Steve's art to continue to represent progressive causes in 2012.