This week’s Magnificent Mujer is Laura Castañeda, an Emmy-award winning journalist, blogger, documentary filmmaker and media instructor, with more than 30 years of experience in various multimedia and multi-language platforms. Laura has most recently become the Community Opinion Editor at the San Diego Union Tribune and is focusing her efforts there on bringing diverse voices and viewpoints to this local media establishment’s narrative and coverage of local, national and international news.
Laura is passionate about the power of storytelling to inform, educate, change opinions and form coalitions and communities around building awareness and creating change locally, nationally and across the world. She has honed her craft as a storyteller as a newscaster, independent producer, filmmaker, writer, screenplay and novel author and through the transmission of the craft of news and film editing and production as a mentor and faculty member at San Diego City College.
Laura has an intense work ethic and sees her role inside the classroom and in the public arena as a role model and mentor for anyone of any race, color or background to pursue their dreams in front of the camera or behind creating authentic stories that make our world and media more reflective and representative of all stakeholders involved.
Castañeda has worked in three different news markets (Chicago, San Diego, and Tucson), holding positions ranging from production assistant to news anchor. Castaneda spent many years working on both sides of the international border in Nogales and Tijuana, B.C.
She is an alumna of the University of Illinois-Urbana and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in Sociology.
She is a member of the San Diego Press Club, SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists), IRE (Investigators Reporters and Editors), NAHJ (National Association of Hispanic Journalists), and attends as many functions as she can to support, NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists), NAJA (Native American Journalists Association), and AAJA (The Asian-American Journalists Association.)
Castañeda has also served on numerous boards of directors including CCNMA, Latino Journalists of California, and UNITY Journalists of Color. She has also served as president of the San Diego Chapter of CCNMA from 1997-2000.
Laura Castañeda began her career as a production assistant in her hometown of Chicago at ABC7 in 1987. She was hired as a reporter at the ABC stations in Tucson, Ariz., and later San Diego, where she covered the U.S./Mexico border, and law enforcement beats. In 2000, she left local news to work on longer format stories with the team at Cox Channel 4’s,San Diego Insider Magazine.
In 2000, Laura Castañeda began teaching her first news writing class at San Diego City College. Four years later, she was hired as a full-time professor, and remained in the Radio TV Film department for 17 years until her recent retirement in 2018. She taught courses in News Writing, Storytelling, Border Reporting, Investigative Reporting, Producing, and TV Performance. She launched hundreds of student’s careers all over the United States. Castañeda also served as Chair of the department from 2010- 2017). She continues to speak on media topics, and teach media workshops, and classes at San Diego State University, Point Loma Nazarene University.
In 2005, she launched her own Magazine show called, Stories de la Frontera. She assembled a team of border reporters, photographers, and documentary filmmakers to tell original, compelling stories on both sides of the international border. The show won two Emmy Awards for Best Magazine Show and aired on KPBS-TV, with screenings in Tucson, Ariz., Chicago, and Riverside, Calif.
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Sarah Bella Mondragon
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