More about: Telemundo reporterJuan Ulises Juarez
came along, he applied for it and received temporary permission to legally live and work in the United States.
Juarez saw how this measure changed the lives of many undocumented individuals like him and realized how much it meant for him to cover these stories. It hit close to home. He knew what it felt like to keep quiet when it came to his experience as an undocumented immigrant, but he also knew he had the power to change that by listening to and telling the stories of people like him. He said he went on a mission to be the “voice of the voiceless” and through it, he was able to find his own voice.
He attended Grand Canyon University and although he says that his school didn’t have opportunities for a journalism degree, he went out of his way to land internships and journalism experiences. One such experience was at CNN. He thanks one of his all-time favorite journalists, Maria Elena Salinas, who served as an inspiration and who awarded him a scholarship so he could continue to follow his passion. Currently, Juarez works for Telemundo Arizona as a reporter, covering all sorts of stories — from breaking news to crime, immigration and, most recently, stories dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Juarez speaks English fluently, but decided to pursue his career in Spanish-language media because he feels more connected with the Hispanic audience and believes that his experiences are what make his stories stronger and more personal for his community. Juarez shared his experience as a Latino journalist and advice to young students pursuing a journalism career.
How can your representation and the way you tell a story connect with people?
When you're coming from that community you understand their struggles a lot more, you can relate to what they're going through. I think it's easier to connect on a personal level with people. The story is never about you, as a journalist you're telling somebody else's story, and you're sharing that with the rest of the world. It doesn't necessarily mean that you’re becoming biased towards a certain story, but you can use that to your advantage to be able to tell a more compelling story. People will trust you because they can relate to you. That can make the human element of the story even more strong, and more compelling.
What does it mean to be bilingual for you and who have you applied it in your career?
I chose Spanish because that’s the language I’m most comfortable in, at least to report in. Also, because I wanted to be connected to the Hispanic community. Working in Spanish news was an open door for me. It's been wonderful to have many people open up their hearts, their homes to share their story with me. It's been really meaningful when I go back and see that something that I did, either brought joy or happiness to them, or they're grateful because I was able to help in some way to expose what they were going through, and nothing gives me more satisfaction.
What can the journalism industry do to be more diverse?
It comes down to being able to have that voice, and to highlight the issues that maybe before we wouldn't pay attention to. It is important to have people on air that other people can relate to like Mexican Americans, or second third generation Hispanics. That way people see their story being shared in the English, local or national channels as well. It also
comes down to management and being able to have more
people that are executive producers or bosses, that are managing these newsrooms and that understand the issues that we face. A lot of times the English media can have a really one sided perspective on some issues that our community faces, but that's because they don't really have that internal guidance, or that internal voice of somebody that knows the situation, and that can give some light on the topic.
What has this pandemic taught you the most about your career?
The connection is definitely different. We're not really doing face to face, but people are still dealing with situations and people are having struggles and we're telling their stories a little bit differently through different methods, but it's still important to get their voice. Overall, for us as journalists this has changed the way we news gather, but it hasn't necessarily changed the way we tell a story. People are sharing the difficulties that they're going through and that it's real. We're representing whatever they're going through and we're able to give them the voice of their situation. For me, at least, I think journalism and local news are even more important than before during the pandemic to really highlight the situations that they're going through.
What is a long term goal and a short term goal you have?
Professionally speaking, I think I'm living a very good moment right now, I really like where I am, I like what I'm doing. Obviously, I want to keep growing, I would like to gain more experience in the industry, possibly anchoring. I would love to be more involved in the English side of news. I think for us, we have a really great advantage, working with Telemundo NBC Universal, because we have that platform. I would love to continue growing on the English side. I think for me, it would be really awesome to transition my career to be able to reach other audiences.
What has been your favorite memory or story covered so far in your career?
Covering the mass shooting in Las Vegas from three years ago was really impactful and meaningful because I was able to connect with the Hispanic family that had lost a family member in the shooting. They opened their heart to me throughout the whole situation. From the moment the family found out that he was dead to the moment that they buried him and they gave me access to those moments and trusted me. They were grateful that I was sharing their story, that I was sharing what their son did to try to save other people during the shooting. When people open up their hearts and are willing to share so many deep emotions and you're able to give them a sense of support, they feel so grateful and you actually help somebody. That's what gives you more strength to say, I must continue being in this career.
For the purpose of representation Ulises wanted to share his advice to upcoming journalists in Spanish:
¿Qué consejo tienes para los jóvenes que estudian periodismo?
Una de las razones por las cuales yo entré a esta carrera, fue para poder ser testigo de primera mano de lo que está pasando. Poder estar en lugares y conocer a personas que típicamente no tendríamos acceso. Es una carrera dura, donde tienes que tener mucha dedicación, tienes que tener mucha perseverancia. Pero al final del día te da la satisfacción de ayudar a las personas. Creo que muchas veces algunos entran o intentan ser parte de la carrera porque lo ven como algo glamoroso donde “me voy a dar a conocer o voy a ser famoso” y en realidad eso queda en segundo plano. Al final del día es ¿cómo voy hacer la diferencia en la vida de los demás? ¿Cómo voy a ayudar con mi historia a darle voz a alguien? Creo que ese es el punto del periodismo. Si les diera un consejo, obviamente es que hagan crecer su pasión, identifica tu pasión por lo quieres hacer, ten paciencia, perseverancia. Seguir adelante siempre, mirar cada día como una nueva oportunidad y tener en cuenta que el trabajo que hacemos sí hace una diferencia y sí le importa a mucha gente.