This panel will discuss how LGBTQ journalists and newsrooms can become more inclusive in their storytelling by providing better coverage of diverse communities, including communities of color. We’ll share tools and unique perspectives on how to accurately report on different racial, ethnic and other often-ignored communities with greater sensitivity and understanding. The goal is to create thought-provoking dialogue that leads to change in our newsrooms when covering the intersecting LGBTQ and minority communities.
Speakers: Zamná Ávila, Andrea Castilo, Brian De Los Santos, Fernando Hurtado, Gene Kang and Rhonda LeValdo
ZAMNÁ ÁVILA is the former assistant editor at for Random Lengths News, a community paper in San Pedro, California. He has been a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists-Los Angeles and the California Chican@ News Media Association, as well as past co-president for the NLGJA Los Angeles Chapter. In 2012, he earned a master’s degree from Quinnipiac University. Prior to RLN, he freelanced for several publications and briefly was the premiere editor for Clout Magazine, a niche product of the Long Beach Press Telegram. He also was a mobile (multimedia) journalist for the Reno Gazette-Journal, a Gannett newspaper. He is fluent in verbal and written English and Spanish, and has a broad cultural awareness of diverse groups. He considers his sexual identity as fluid.
ANDREA CASTILO covers immigration at the Los Angeles Times. Before joining the Times, she wrote about immigrant, ethnic and LGBTQ communities at The Fresno Bee and got her start in journalism at The Oregonian in Portland, where she covered immigration and Latino issues, among other beats. She has written about how the drought spurred a health crisis among residents of rural farm towns in the Central Valley, and about lax oversight of substandard housing in Fresno and its long history as a byproduct of systemic discrimination. Earlier this year, she contributed to a four-part series that intimately illustrated how the Trump administration’s immigration policies have affected residents of one neighborhood in east Los Angeles. She grew up in Seattle and attended Washington State University.
BRIAN DE LOS SANTOS leads digital strategy at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California. He’s also serving on the NAHJ board as Region 8 director, helping local efforts in the Pacific area of the country. Before moving to the desert, Brian was a digital editor at the Los Angeles Times, where he assisted the team that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. He also worked with the engagement team, managing The Times social media and producing content for off-platform audiences. He’s a public media alum, with bylines – both digital and on-air – at KPCC, KCRW, Marketplace and NPR. Brian is an AIR New Voices Scholar from the 2013 PRPC and participated in the McCormick’s Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration in El Paso that year. He’s spoken at NABJ-NAHJ 2016, SXSW 2017 and the Excellence in Journalism conference.
FERNANDO HURTADO is a producer/editor at ATTN:, a digital media company producing content that informs and entertains. Prior to that, he was a producer at Circa, a national digital video news outlet. There, he produced stories on everything from pregnant moms who smoke marijuana to the air pollution crisis in communities of color. Prior to that, he was a freelance social video producer for Fusion Media Group and USA Today. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. He’s originally from Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles.
GENE KANG is thrilled to live his dream as a TV reporter for NBC4 Los Angeles/KNBC-TV. He has 15 years of experience as a reporter and fill-in anchor. He previously worked for CBS News 8 in San Diego and received an Emmy Award for breaking news coverage of the Cocos wildfires and an Associated Press Award for Best Reporter. Kang began his broadcast journalism career at NBC5 in Chicago as an assignment editor and field producer. Moving from behind the camera to his first on-air job, he landed an anchor/reporter job at KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas, followed by WSJV-TV in South Bend, Indiana, and WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky. He previously served on the boards of Asian American Journalists Association-San Diego and AAJA-Chicago as marketing director and vice president of broadcast. He has been dedicated to diversity and inclusion in journalism since he joined AAJA in 1999. He’s also a champion of LGBTQ and human rights as an openly gay man and a Buddhist. Kang married his best friend, Dan Nevez, in June 2014. They’ve been together for 20 years. When he’s not reporting, Gene is an active volunteer Buddhist leader with Soka Gakkai International-USA, which promotes peace, culture and education both locally and globally. He also volunteers with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
RHONDA LeVALDO, Acoma Pueblo, is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. She teaches media communications classes, is an adviser to the school newspaper The Indian Leader and write freelance stories for National Native News (radio). LeValdo also hosts Native Spirit Radio 90.1 FM-KKFI in Kansas City and was a past president of the Native American Journalists Association.