Meet Hub LA member Kristopher Fortin! He’s a journalist formerly at the Orange County Register, and he is a leader in the LA chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Kris’s work epitomizes the Hub LA ethos: he is expanding access through technology and storytelling. I sent him some questions about why he does the work that he does, not only for NAHJ-LA but also as a storyteller dedicated to representing the Latino story, and he shared these (beautiful) responses.
Tell me about your organization and the work that you do for it?
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Los Angeles is dedicated to the professional development of Hispanics in the news media. As NAHJ’s Los Angeles chapter, we serve our local members by hosting mixers, connecting them to job opportunities and hosting workshops and events that help build their skills. We also work with student members by connecting them to internship opportunities and giving them access to our professional members to help them in ways that include mentorship or career advice.
I am the Vice President of Online media for the Los Angeles chapter. I have organized panels on transmedia photojournalism, and I have organized a conference on journalism focused on technology’s use in storytelling and connecting with Latino audiences.
What impact are you hoping to make?
As an organization, we want to see newsrooms diversify, and specifically with more Latinos at various positions in media. We want to foster our members growth as journalists and be a resource for professional development so they can become leaders in the quickly changing media landscape. We also want to prepare our student members for the job market before they leave their university and give them training and advice on how to succeed in the news industry.
My main goal with NAHJ-LA is to make the local chapter sustainable and provide valuable programming to our members. This is our second year performing as a chapter and we have held multiple mixers and hosted a daylong conference called #LATINcon for roughly 50 people at the YouTube Creative Space in Los Angeles. I hope as an organization we continue to have consistent mixers, workshops and events.
Also, the NAHJ network is like a family. I have known NAHJ members from across the country for years and they continue to be some of my closest friends. This bond between NAHJ members is what I hope our organization can continue to replicate in Los Angeles.
Why Hub? What resources have been particularly useful for your group?
We joined the Hub because of its network, professional development clinics, and available conference rooms. Oh, and the cost can’t be beat.
NAHJ-LA’s goals of creating greater equity in media falls in line with Hub’s philosophy for creating greater change. NAHJ-LA is volunteer run, so knowing we have access to people that are media makers, business people, and technologically savvy is a great asset. And we are always looking to collaborate and expand our network and if we can plant a seed to get others involved from networks outside of our organization, I know it could happen at a place like the Hub.
One of our biggest need as an organization is hosting workshops and panels. Our board of directors has talked about doing workshops on photography, writing, and coding, but we have lacked the available space to host these events. We hope to organize these types of events here at the Hub for Hub and NAHJ members.
We have already taken advantage of the weekend tech startups and development office hours to help create a MailChimp, install Google Analytics on our website and purchase the rights of a url and install it on our #LATINcon Tumblr account.
You do a lot of work reporting on the Hispanic community. Why do you feel compelled to document those generally underrepresented voices? Is there anything that you’re looking to uncover specifically?
I am drawn to telling stories about the Latino community because it often reflects or relates to a part of my identity as a Latino. Many stories Latinos experience are similar ones I experience. When I write stories about undocumented immigrants or children of immigrants, I remember my friends’ experiences being undocumented. When I wrote a story about a bookseller that vends children books with Latino characters, I recall growing up reading the Boxcar Children and the Hardy Boys books. I never read childrens books that could connected with my background of having a Honduran father, and a Mexican-American mother — and add that I grew up in a majority Chinese neighborhood, there wasn’t children literature in my upbringing to teach me how to adjust to that.
The Latino story is extremely diverse, and far from singular. I write stories about Latinos because I hope to tell the stories that they deserve: a human one. Whether Latinos are creating open air markets in alleyways, or creating public gathering areas by painting images of the Virgen of Guadalupe on walls, they have stories that are lessons to many people.
You’re putting together a conference for Hispanic Journalists? Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
We finished our first iteration of #LATINcon this March and we are planning another one for March 2015. I wouldn’t say its just for Hispanic journalists, but we created it with them in mind. We created this conference as a way to start a conversation about why Latinos should be covered in the news media, how they can be reached using technology, and introducing our audience to different forms of digital storytelling.
Why journalism? You’re not just a reporter, you’re a storyteller. Can you tell me how you see those two things related to the change you’re hoping to achieve?
Journalists get the rare opportunity to learn about a vast number of issues and highlight stories that are made to serve a public good, to entertain or to inform. And since journalists are not traditionally public relations practitioners, they can tell stories in a both fair and critical way. You can usually trust these guys and gals.
I’ve learned in many journalism classes that journalism is documenting history as it happens. My goal as a journalist is to tell as many stories as I can about the Latino community in hopes of documenting their story as accurately as possible. Being a part of the group of people creating stories about Latinos in video, through audio and writing gives me pride because I hope in my small way I can speak truth to their ever evolving story.
Left handed or right handed?
Righty is mighty.