Every year the news industry undergoes changes that make it almost unrecognizable from the early days of NLGJA. Two-thirds of Americans now say that they get their news not from television or newspapers, but from the same place they share cat videos: social media. And instead of on their big flat screens, most learn about the latest Trump news from their phones. Producing news continues to be a 24/7 task. New technology has brought incredible innovation. More marginalized voices are now being heard and niche publications are finding new audiences, but digital and broadcast platforms face new challenges as they search for ways to monetize the content and keep their audience from shrinking any further. Consolidation, branding, standing out in a flow of endless news, how can broadcast and digital outlets do what they do and do it even better? What will we see next?
Moderator: Ina Fried
Panelists: Ramon Escobar, Michelle Garcia, Karen Hawkins, Mira Lowe, Martin Ortiz, Court Passant, Zach Stafford
Awards presented: Excellence in Digital Video Award, Excellence in Feature Writing, Excellence in Feature Writing (Non-daily), Excellence in Health or Fitness Coverage
INA FRIED is chief technology correspondent for Axios and author of its daily tech newsletter. Before joining Axios in February 2017, she was a senior editor at Recode, covering mobile, and produced the Code/Mobile series of conferences. Her road to becoming the woman she is today has been a long one. Before helping launch Recode, Fried covered mobile at All Things Digital. Prior to that she spent a decade at CNET where she covered, among other things, Microsoft and Apple. Her reporting spanned several continents, two genders and included chronicling the Hewlett Packard-Compaq merger, Bill Gates’ transition from software giant to philanthropist and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She is also a former vice president and national board member for NLGJA and a member of the LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame.
RAMON ESCOBAR is Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for CNN Worldwide. A media veteran with 25 years of experience in news and entertainment in local, cable and network television as well as digital/new media, Escobar has the unique perspective of having worked in both English and Spanish-language media. Has developed expertise in both the U.S. Hispanic market and Latin America having traveled extensively throughout Latin America working with international media companies around the globe. Escobar came to CNN from Telemundo where he was the head of the news division. Prior to his time at Telemundo, Escobar was Vice President of Consulting at Sucherman Group where he worked closely with a cross-section of news and entertainment networks on programming, news and digital media strategy.
MICHELLE GARCIA is the senior editor for race and identities at Vox.com, focusing on race, gender, sexuality and religion. Garcia’s work has been honored by the Western Publishers Association, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and the New York Press Association. Previously, Garcia was an editor at Mic.com and The Advocate magazine. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.
KAREN HAWKINS is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine for Women. She is an award-winning reporter and editor whose journalism background includes positions with The Associated Press, the Windy City Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post. She is also the former director of communications for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Karen wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she’s always wanted to start when he called her “Rebellious” for taking too many weekends off. When she isn’t instigating a media Rebellion, she’s thanking her lucky starlets she gets to do whatever she wants on weekends.
MIRA LOWE is Director of the Innovation News Center (INC), a public media newsroom serving 19 North Central Florida counties where student journalists produce content for multiple media platforms, including WUFT-TV, WUFT-FM, ESPN 95.3, WRUF-FM, WRUF-TV, WUFT.org and Noticias WUFT. Prior to joining UF, Mira was a senior editor at CNN Digital in Atlanta where she managed the planning, execution and programming of various special projects across a global portfolio. She previously led the Features team, overseeing the entertainment, lifestyle, tech, travel and heath sections for domestic CNN.com and mobile.
MARTIN ORTIZ is an Executive Producer at the ABC Owned Station in San Francisco, KGO-TV/ABC7. That’s where he oversees ABC7 Mornings, the station’s 2 ½ hour long morning broadcast. In addition, Martin helps manage digital content for the station’s website, app and social media pages. Prior to this management position, Martin served as a producer for several newscasts at KGO – including the weekday 11PM, 4PM and 6AM newscasts. Martin started his career as an assignment editor and producer at KFSN-TV, the ABC Owned Station in Fresno. He’s a native of Parlier, California and a proud graduate of California State University, Fresno.
COURT PASSANT works with the teams at CBS Affiliate Relations and CBS Television Networks Distribution and manages the relationships with CBS affiliates, multichannel video programming distributors and Over the Top distributors of No. 1 CBS programming. He is a veteran of CBS and CBS News, where he has worked since 1992. His CBS journey includes producing the overnight news broadcast “Up to the Minute” on the CBS Television Network and managing CBS Newspath, the company’s affiliate news service. Prior to becoming VP of Affiliate Marketing, he was executive director of broadcast marketing at CBS News. Passant is also the founder and executive producer of CBS News on Logo — news for MTV Networks’ LGBT digital cable network. He is married to Joseph Vasquez, a kindergarten teacher in the New York City Public Schools.
ZACH STAFFORD is the editor-in-chief of INTO, a new digital lifestyle magazine launched by Grindr in 2017. At INTO, he and Trish Bendix oversee day-to-day operations and are responsible for the overall direction and content of the publication. Prior to this role, Stafford served editor-at-large of OUT Magazine and as an award-winning investigative reporter at The Guardian where he covered justice, violence and social issues in both his column and long-form features. He regularly provides commentary on radio, podcasts and has appeared on the BBC, CNN and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” And he also is the co-editor of the bestselling book “Boys, An Anthology,” as well as his latest photo-essay book, “When Dogs Heal,” which explores the lives of HIV-positive people and the pets that saved their lives. He resides in Los Angeles.