Ilia Calderón is the new co-anchor of Univision’s nightly newscast, “Noticiero Univision.”
According to Univision, she is the first Afro-Latina to anchor a national newscast in the United States. If her name or face seems familiar to you, it may be because she made headlines in the summer of 2017 when she interviewed Chris Barker, a member of the Loyal White Knights — a branch of the Ku Klux Klan.
Barker didn’t hide his dislike of her, and even went as far to call her a "n*****" during the interview.
Ilia Calderón: I grew up in Colombia, with a conflict that lasted more than four decades. I was able to see that we were surrounded by many cases of corruption and social problems.
I think that journalism is a way to shine a light on those challenges, of showing the world the reality of each country, denouncing wrongdoing and helping citizens be informed so that they can make good life decisions. Journalism is calling to serve the public through news and information.
I did not really see my experience reflected in the media while growing up — that is why I think diversity is so important in a newsroom, because it helps understand, reflect and better inform all audiences.
Discussions about cultural, class and racial diversity in English-language media in the US tends to center around who is being cast and, lately, what kinds of stories are being told. What strides are being made to promote more accurate representations of people of color in Spanish-language media?
We have probably the most diverse newsroom in the world at Univision. I have colleagues from the US, each country in Latin America and even Australia. That diversity enriches our stories and reporting.
I don’t think my skin color, my race or my origins define the type of work that I do as a journalist. Racism is a topic that affects all minorities.
I was sitting there as a journalist not as an individual. My mission was a documentary, to inform our audience about the way the KKK thinks, and about what is really inside their organization.
Sometimes our assignments as journalist have an implicit risk, but they are stories you cannot tell behind a desk. As I mentioned before, I was sitting there in front of a KKK leader as a journalist knowing I was representing everything he hates, but I was simply doing my job. It was definitely an intense experience, but most importantly a good opportunity to expose and try to have a better understanding of hate.
More in-depth investigative stories — also more educational stories that teach about tolerance, respect and equality.
Check back here over the next few weeks to read other interviews in our series, "The Media Disruptors," with:
Joanelle Romero (March 8)
Nancy Wang Yuen (March 15)
Christabel Nsiah-Buadi is the creator and editor of “The Media Disruptors” and a public media producer. She also writes about the media, culture and politics. You can follow her on Twitter: @msama
There is no paywall on the story you just read because a community of dedicated listeners and readers have contributed to keep the global news you rely on free and accessible for all. Will you join the 314 donors who’ve stepped up to support The World? From now until Dec. 31, your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 match. Donate today to double your impact and keep The World free and accessible.