Julio Vaqueiro’s journey from Mexico to becoming one of the lead news anchors for Telemundo was a long one. On Thursday, that journey brought him to USC.
Vaqueiro, principal anchor for “Noticiero Telemundo,” spoke with students at the Annenberg Media Center about his journey as a Latino journalist and his experience anchoring for one of the largest Spanish-language networks in the country.
Born in Mexico, Vaqueiro got his start when he joined a small TV station as a reporter. He said he learned the ropes of journalism at that first job, and it positioned him to take on a later opportunity as a Telemundo correspondent covering Mexico City.
After years working in Mexico, he was offered an anchor position in Los Angeles’ Telemundo affiliate. He spent a few years in L.A. before taking the leap to Telemundo’s headquarters in Miami.
“Opportunities open and you just have to take them,” Vaqueiro said. “Listen to people who give you advice and then just take the next step.”
Vaqueiro was recently named the leading anchor for “Noticiero Telemundo,” one of the main Spanish-language outlets in the U.S. He now serves as the evening news anchor, following in former anchor José Diaz-Balart’s footsteps, which Vaqueiro described as an honor.
“I came here when I was 24,” he said. “So I mean, I was new to the country. I wasn’t involved in the culture and the way things work here, although I kind of had an idea, but there was a big challenge to immigrate from Mexico.”
Amara Aguilar, one of the professors who planned Vaqueiro’s visit, said that the best advice Vaqueiro gave students was “to listen.”
“That involves listening to our community, and I think that that is really important,” Aguilar said. “And… pushing away any stereotypes that may exist, especially when it comes to covering the Latino community and really get into the community and listen to what their genuine stories are. So listening is important.”
Aguilar called Vaqueiro’s chat with students “an overall inspiring visit.”
“The advice he gave was so practical,” Aguilar said. “He mentioned listening to our community, but also listening to mentors, listening to teachers and taking advantage of all of the opportunities you have now as students in college.”
Vaqueiro was also well-received by students who hope to build successful journalism careers of their own.
“I think what really stood out to me is that he proves himself to be a very sensitive reporter,” said senior English major Ignacio Ventura-Maqueda Jr. “We want to take the time to really go into those communities and understand their issues.”
Andrés Guadrón, a senior majoring in journalism, found the advice from Vaqueiro helpful for his future career.
“I think it’s very important because we always have guests here, but this feels really personal to me because he’s a Spanish speaker, news anchor, and we don’t see that a lot,” Guadrón said.
“Even though there’s a lot of Spanish speakers … we don’t get those opportunities all the time,” added Guadrón, referring to the Latino students in the journalism program.
Vaqueiro’s advice also inspired non-Latino journalism students. Daniel Marable, a sophomore journalism student, was moved by Vaqueiro’s conversation.
“He was really grounded and intelligent about his field,” Marable said. “I could feel his passion for journalism, but what was really cool was how excited and passionate everyone else in the audience was about what he had to say.”
Yvonne Abedi, another sophomore journalism student who attended the event, said that even though she has not watched the Telemundo newscast, “it is always a great thing” getting to know a successful news anchor in person.
“Seeing the reactions of others that watch Telemundo and seeing how much meeting Julio meant to them was very exciting,” Abedi said. “It gave them the motivation to continue on with their dreams in journalism.”
When asked about overcoming challenges and maintaining a passion for producing impactful journalism, Vaqueiro told students not to take criticism or praise to heart.
“I think the biggest challenge is to acknowledge that you’re as good as your latest story,” Vaqueiro said. “You produced a great story, you did a good job, then it’s time to move to the next one.”