So much is changing so fast in Latino media. What began with the launch of FOX News Latino in 2010 created a booming new ethnic media market, as Huffington Post, NBC, CNN, ESPN, and others quickly followed suit. Late last month, Univision joined ABC News to launch the most significant investment in Latino media to-date: Fusion, a 24-hour cable news channel with a target audience of English-speaking Hispanic millennials.
During the early years of this decade young Latinos have been arriving motivated and succeeding quickly in American newsrooms. It is now up to the rising class of young newsroom Latinos to keep moving in and moving up as mentors and facilitators for others. While there is still a lot of work to do, below are 13 top young Latinos in American newsrooms (listed alphabetically by first name) who are leading the way.
- Adrian Carrasquillo (Buzzfeed): After designing, launching, and implementing the initial social media strategies for both FOX News Latino and NBC Latino, this summer Carrasquillo joined Buzzfeed as a breaking news reporter. While Carrasquillo covers a wide spectrum of breaking news, his experience brings a genuine cultural authenticity to Buzzfeed's coverage of immigration, Latin America, LGBT and other racial and ethnic affairs.
- Alejandra Oraa (CNN en Español): Oraa was only 23 years old when she became the youngest news anchor ever broadcasted via CNN en Español and its affiliates. She now anchors "Café CNN", a four-hour morning show designed to blend hard news with human interest and lifestyle stories. On social media, Oraa keeps her nearly 15,000 fans on Facebook and 62,000 followers on Twitter updated with frequent postings of the day's world news.
- Alicia Menendez (Fusion): Among millennials in broadcast media, Menendez might be the best. After fine-tuning her skills as a daily broadcast video star at Huffington Post Live, she was hired this year by Fusion where she has her own show: "AM Tonight". On her show, Menendez covers everything from celebrities to sex to controversial documentaries. She also appears on other shows on the new network. In Fusion's opening show of AMERICA with Jorge Ramos, she sat with the legendary newsman to explain the finer points of immigration politics in the U.S.
- Arelis Hernandez (Orlando Sentinel): This year the Association of American News Editors awarded Hernandez the 2013 Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity for her outstanding reportage on racial and ethnic identity surrounding the George Zimmermann/Trayvon Martin saga. The Society of Professional Journalists quickly followed suit by recognizing Hernandez with its annual Breaking News Reporting Award. In short, Hernandez has to risen to the short list of the best breaking news reporters in America.
- Bryan Llenas (FOX News): After covering the election of the first Latin American Pope in Rome, Llenas returned stateside with broadcast bonafides. He now works out of New York City as a correspondent for the FOX News Channel and FOX News Latino. Follow Llenas on social media and watch him rise as one of the youngest talents at the FOX News network.
- Enrique Acevedo (Univision): He has interviewed Obama in Cartagena, covered the tsunami in Japan, AIDS in Africa, and broadcast for Univision's Noticiero from the scenes some of the biggest breaking news stories in the U.S. He has won two National Journalism Awards by Mexico's Press Club, as well as a slate of other honors for his work as a top bilingual journalist in the Americas.
- Francisco Cortes (FOX News Latino): No one has done more for English-language Latino media in the United States than Francisco Cortes. At FOX News, Cortes started the Latino media trend that has since blown up across the industry. Almost half of the people listed here are his Latino media proteges. That said, Francisco Cortes has earned the distinction of the Godfather of Latino Media.
- Julio Varela (Al Jazeera): After founding the Latino Rebels, LLC and building it to high acclaim as an authentic and (at times) controversial voice in Latino politics and culture, Varela was hired as a Digital Producer for Al Jazeera America's "The Stream". The show launched this summer in primetime on the new network. Since then Varela has established himself in the network news world via his social media genius. This week, his hard work was rewarded as he made his television broadcasting debut as co-anchor "The Stream" on Al Jazeera English.
- Marie D. De Jesus (Houston Chronicle): After graduating from one of the first classes at the New York Times Journalism Institute, De Jesus began her career at the Victoria Advocate in Texas. Soon she was recruited by the Democrat and Chronicle in New York, where she honed her skills to the tune of several awards and recognitions by Gannett and the Associated Press for her fine work as a daily news photographer. Last month, De Jesus moved on again, this time to bigger circulations in Houston. Follow her exceptional visual media photo blog, "A Day On A Frame".
- Nick Valencia (CNN): It always makes my day when I look up to see Nick Valencia broadcasting a story or offering commentary live on CNN. Valencia is a natural. The pressure of live television appears light on his shoulders. Valencia regularly appears across CNN's Headline News, CNN International, and CNN en Español. As if that weren't enough, Valencia also files reports for CNN.com. He has already won three Peabody Awards for Journalism...and he's just getting started.
- Roque Planas (Huffington Post): This year Planas joined Voces editor Gabriel Lerner to accept a National Association of Hispanic Journalists award for Huffington Post's commitment to diversity. The award was well-deserved. Since Planas joined the Latino Voices team, the English-language vertical's commitment to Latin America coverage has been granular, accurate, and progressive.
- Russ Contreras (Associated Press): From his New Mexico newsroom, Contreras has been uncovering large, lost moments in Latino American history. A veteran of the Albuquerque Journal and Boston Globe, this year Contreras has written Big Stories about the Latinos who joined Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington in 1963, and the LULAC Latinos who were with President John F. Kennedy the night before his assassination in Dallas. Stories like these are timeless and important reminders of the Latino experience in the U.S.
- Sandra Garcia (New York Times): Before joining the Metro Desk at the mighty New York Times this summer, Garcia worked at publications all across the ethnic media spectrum. Her experience includes stints at FOX News Latino, VIBE, El Diario La Prensa, Black Enterprise, Time Inc., and others. A recent graduate of the famed Columbia Journalism School, follow her on Twitter where she treats her followers to daily doses of wit and genius.
Surely this list is not all-inclusive. Who is missing? Let me know in the comments or tweet them at @vato.
Follow Pablo Manriquez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vato