Univision News partners with UC Berkeley to reach young Latinos

Spanish-language media giant Univision and its just-launched cable news venture, Fusion, are partnering with UC Berkeley to bring campus experts, research news and events of interest to the channel’s targeted audience of young, English-speaking Hispanics.

Harley Shaiken, head of UC Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies, was interviewed recently for the new Fusion news operation directed at young Latinos.  Photo by UC Berkeley Public Affairs.

Harley Shaiken, head of UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies, was interviewed recently for the new Fusion news operation directed at young Latinos. Photo by UC Berkeley Public Affairs.

At the forefront of this new effort is UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), where Director Harley Shaiken is providing the channel with access to CLAS events and promoting interviews with its affiliated faculty in fields that include political science, history, economics, law, architecture, business, public health, public policy and art.

The pioneering initiative is Univision’s first arrangement with a university in the United States. The network chose to collaborate with CLAS because of the center’s outstanding program, affiliated faculty and students. Univision is providing a full tuition scholarship for a UC Berkeley graduate student, who will work on Fusion projects from an office at the center.

“The partnership is an exceptional opportunity for UC Berkeley to reach more of the Latino community, both in California and the nation,” said Shaiken. “We can ‘translate’ for a broad audience so much important information about current issues and research.”

California’s Hispanic population is about even with the white population in the state, and is projected to reach a plurality in early 2014, for the first time since California became a state, according to the California Department of Finance.

Word about the partnership coincides with the official rollout of the 24-hour Fusion news channel, which will  cater to an audience of second- and third-generation Hispanics with English-language broadcasts. Univision News President and Fusion CEO Isaac Lee described Fusion at a recent event organized by CLAS and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, saying that no other major news outlet has succeeded in attracting this growing Latino demographic with its “huge cultural connection to family, to their roots, to the food and to the music.”

CLAS has achieved international recognition for its innovative programming around major Latin American issues. The center has hosted presentations by numerous Latin American leaders, including former Chilean presidents Michelle Bachelet and Ricardo Lagos and former Mexican President Vicente Fox. It has also welcomed important Hispanic academics, writers, policy makers, artists and journalists as visiting scholars at the center, including Lee, who, prior to joining Univision and Fusion, was an award-winning journalist from Colombia.

“This is a unique collaboration,” said Lee. “Partnering with an academic institution as prestigious as UC Berkeley is not only an honor for Univision News and Fusion, but also speaks to our steadfast commitment to driving innovation in the field of broadcast journalism. Establishing an official news bureau housed within a major university campus is a truly groundbreaking effort and we’re extremely proud to be one of the first media organizations to do it.”

This poster was designed for a recent talk by Univision's Isaac Lee at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism by work-study student Kaye Lu.

This poster was designed for a recent talk by Univision’s Isaac Lee at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism by former work-study student Kaye Lu.

Fusion will draw from existing CLAS programming, including the U.S.-Mexico Futures Forum, which explores common issues between the two countries, and events with visiting dignitaries and scholars. Recent campus visitors were the three judges who convicted former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Berkeley-Univision collaboration already has led to interviews with Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, who recently performed at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theater, and with former U.S. Labor Secretary and Goldman School of Public Policy professor Robert Reich on economic inequality, a major issue in Latin America.

For the Berkeley campus, this collaboration is a pioneering and visionary step.  “As a premier public university,” Shaiken said, “UC Berkeley will be reaching a population that is vital to the future of California.”

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