by: Adreana Young
In a meeting with Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas raised the question: “What is the emerging American identity?”
While the news brims with stories of culture, national identity and change, Vargas and the LA Times have teamed up to try and answer that question through #EmergingUS, a digital magazine that will focus on race, immigration, identity and the complexities of a multicultural American society.
“I think it’s a very unique kind of path we’ve set upon ourselves,” said Vargas. “The key part is the hashtag part, which is how we are going to engage our readers. Our readers aren’t only readers anymore; they want to engage in the content. After they read a piece of information, they want to actively be able to connect with it and engage with it.”
Vargas said that #EmergingUS is the only publication with the hashtag in the name. With the hashtag, audiences will have a chance to get involved through social media and continue the dialogue about identity that has already been sparked by social media.
“Can you image where Black Lives Matter would be without Twitter? Can you image where the LGBT movement would be without social media? Where immigrants’ rights would be without social media?” Vargas said. “To me, the marriage of technology and diversity is one of the key defining issues in this media age—in this very disruptive and disrupted media age.”
He said that because so much of the conversation about diversity and American identity is happening on social media and through hashtags, creating a digital native platform only made sense.
It made sense for the LA Times as well. Beutner said that #EmergingUS fits with the print native publication’s digital strategy. In addition, Beutner and Vargas both agree that Los Angeles might be the best place for this type of coverage.
Beutner said that the southern California city has been dealing with the multiculturalism for the better part of a generation
“We (the LA Times) think it’s one of the most important causes—increasing diversity, race and ethnicity in a multicultural American society,” Beutner said.
#EmergingUS has hired a small staff and plans to launch the magazine before summer.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a lot of questions. We’re asking our readers to join us in this journey,” Vargas said.