On Thursday, September 22, Caló News went live with a full website of news for and by Latinos. The editor of this project, a new ethnic media venture that promises to “tell our stories with the highest journalistic standards” is led by Daniel Vasquez, a veteran, award-winning journalist, and writer who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has worked for many mainstream newspapers. EMS spoke with Daniel during the launch of Caló News in Los Angeles. (Image credit: Daniel Vasquez)
Daniel, what is the unique space that you want Caló to occupy in the journalistic arena?
That’s a good question. We want to be taken seriously so we will adhere to the highest journalistic standards, and we will tell the stories that should be told in the traditional press. We’re talking about covering Latinos. Latino Americans. And they are very much a part of our history, and they keep this country strong, and their stories are not told. We know this. We’ve talked about this for a long time. So our concept is simple: we’re going to tell the stories that are about them for them, and we’re going to cultivate Latino talent to tell those stories. And by doing so, we are just doing journalism. Right? And by doing journalism, I think it’s one more avenue to help our communities to be taken more seriously.
You have already been publishing, right?
We have been published as a newsletter for 25 weeks. And this morning we went to a full website.
Yeah, thank you. We’re very excited about that.
Please tell me about one story that you’ve done already that you are proud of and then let’s talk about stories, the kinds of stories that you would like to see.
One of our first stories we covered was the lack of Latino doctors and the impacts it has on the community. And we also explored solutions with programs that we’re trying to make a difference. So that’s an important issue. We also mentioned that we’d like to cover the CEOs, elected officials, and other VIPs, in our community but also the folks like the street vendors or the single parents or the grandparents, all those people are very important to us.
So, for instance, one of the stories we did that I really liked was about a woman that self-identified as a Chicana barber, and she was also a model and an entrepreneur. And so we did an interview with her, and she wouldn’t get press from anywhere else. But what she’s doing is being a role model for young folks like her. And so I’m really proud of that story.
We’ve covered how salt kills Latinos and what we can do about it. We’ll be talking about liver cancer. We’ll be covering health, justice, equity very hard. These are things that are important to all people. Not just our people, but our people are not included in this coverage. We’re going to do that.
We heard today about how difficult it is for media in general, but for Latino media in particular, to survive. So how do you survive?
Right now, it’s one day at a time. Arturo (Carmona, founder of the Latino Media Collaborative that launched Caló) has assembled a great cohort of funders that are big believers in what we’re trying to do, and that helps a lot. But we have to meet the measure by delivering quality content. And so part of this is the funding, but what I’m hired on to do and work most on is creating that quality content, and that’s how good journalism gets spread, and we are navigating that day by day.
We’re going to be swimming in deep waters, deeper waters than before. But I think we’re built for it, we’re prepared for it, so that’s how we’re going to do it, doing the quality content that hopefully catches fire.
Great. And you come from mainstream media, right? You worked in mainstream newspapers.
Yes, I’ve worked for the Oakland Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe, South Florida Sun Sentinel and others. I’ve been in the business for 35 plus years and started from the bottom, and I’ve done a lot of different jobs in there, and this is one of my favorite jobs.
Yeah, I was going to say how different this will be from working in a mainstream newsroom.
Yeah, one of the benefits of working for large operations is they had all the support staff that could help me do my job better, and we’re starting this from the ground up. I think it’s incredible where we’ve gotten in such a short time, but it requires effort and sweat every single day, and we learn from mistakes every single day. But I think what makes us different is that we’re starting with that high journalistic standard. It’s hard to measure, it’s hard to meet, but we’re getting better at it.