FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES TIMES FORMS VENTURE WITH DEFINE AMERICAN FOUNDER JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS TO CREATE #EmergingUS MULTIMEDIA PLATFORM
LOS ANGELES – Feb. 17, 2015 – The Los Angeles Times today announced a venture with Define American founder, journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas to establish #EmergingUS, a multimedia platform which will explore the evolving American identity in the 21st century.
As founder and executive editor of #EmergingUS, Vargas will lead an effort to write commentary and produce original video, graphics and other digital content that focuses on the intersection of race, immigration, identity and the complexities of multiculturalism. #EmergingUS shares Define American's vision of creating much-needed dialogue on immigration. Define American is at the forefront of elevating immigrant voices after successful initiatives such as getting over 35 young undocumented Americans on the cover of TIME Magazine in June 2012, and leading the movement pressuring news organizations such as the Associated Press and USA Today, among many others, to stop using the word "illegal" to describe people.
"The announcement of #EmergingUS marks an exciting new development for our founder, Jose Antonio Vargas," said Ryan Eller, executive director of Define American. "Furthermore, #EmergingUS complements the vision of Define American: telling stories that transcend politics and shifts the conversation around immigrants, identity, and citizenship. We couldn't be more thrilled to have the Los Angeles Times, one of the nation's most recognized media organizations, see the value in exploring the emerging American identity."
Joining #EmergingUS as managing editor is Alejandra Campoverdi, formerly director of video initiatives at the Times. Previously, Campoverdi served as senior advisor for communications strategy and innovation for Univision Network News and was a part of the team that launched Fusion, a digital and television joint venture between Disney/ABC and Univision. From 2009 to 2012, Campoverdi worked in the White House, where she served as White House deputy director for Hispanic media.
"Raised by a single mother who immigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles, I understand firsthand the multicultural balancing act around ethnic and gender identity,” Campoverdi said. “With a dynamic leader like Jose at its helm, #EmergingUS is distinctly positioned to authentically engage and explore these narratives."
A Filipino citizen who has lived in the United States since age 12, Vargas is uniquely suited to lead this effort with The Times, the leading news organization in a metropolis where Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups have grown to become a majority of the population.
Vargas said: "I was a journalist and filmmaker before I outed myself as undocumented and started Define American. With the launch of #EmergingUS, I intend to be my fullest professional and personal self."
During his 16 years as a journalist, Vargas has written for newspapers (Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle) and magazines (New Yorker, Rolling Stone), and he was a senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post. At the Washington Post, he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre, and his 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C., inspired the documentary “The Other City.” Politico named him one of 50 Politicos to Watch in 2007.
In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay Vargas wrote in which he revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant. Two years later, Vargas’ directorial debut, “Documented,” which chronicles his public and private journeys as the country’s most visible undocumented immigrant, made its world premiere at AFI Docs in Washington, D.C. The film, which is a project of Define American, aired on CNN in 2014 and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for outstanding documentary. In November 2014, Define American launched an educational curriculum developed around the film for 11th and 12th graders, which is now being taught in classrooms nationwide. Currently, Vargas is producing for MTV’s “Look Different” campaign a film project on what it means to be young and white in America. The television special, which is also a project of Define American, will air on MTV later this year.
About Define American:
Define American is a non-profit, non-partisan media and culture organization using the power of story to transcend politics and shift conversation around immigration, identity, and citizenship in America. It was founded by Jose Antonio Vargas in 2011, and co-founded by Jake Brewer, Jehmu Greene and Alicia Menendez. For more, visit defineamerican.com.
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