FOX Weather team shares their struggles and successes as Hispanic journalists during panel at NAHJ

FOX Weather meteorologist Marissa Torres moderated a panel called “Weathering it together: Latinx representation in journalism, weather coverage and connecting stories."

Four members of the FOX Weather family shared their experiences in the media industry at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention on July 13.

FOX Weather meteorologist Marissa Torres moderated a panel called "Weathering it together: Latinx representation in journalism, weather coverage and connecting stories." As the only weather-related panel at NAHJ, it explored the impact of Hispanic and Latinx community representation in the weather and climate industry.  

Panel speakers included FOX Weather meteorologist Craig Herrera, FOX Weather correspondent Nicole Valdes and FOX Weather senior producer Valeria Lacourciere.


"Attending this year’s NAHJ Conference on behalf of FOX Weather was an incredible opportunity," Torres said. "It allowed us to share all the hard work we’ve put forward over the past year and a half, as well as connect with our Hispanic/Latinx community."

A large part of making that connection involved Torres and her fellow panelists sharing personal experiences, not just about how they each honed their craft as journalists but also how their cultural backgrounds informed how they navigated the media industry.

One example involved Valdes and her work on the documentary "FOX Weather Reports: Ruin and Resurrection," which covered the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017.

Valdes noted how she sought to balance her role as a correspondent reporting on the storm and her personal ties to the island, particularly as some of her own family members were affected by the hurricane.

"What I learned as a journalist is that having a connection to your story is not a weakness, it’s a strength," Valdes said. "It made the story better, and my interviewees knew they could trust me as my family lived it."

"It became my superpower in reporting that I hoped would resonate with Hispanic journalists at the NAHJ conference," she added.

However, finding a balance between being true to yourself and your cultural background while being a media professional has been a challenge for some at times. 

Lacourciere spoke about how, early on in her career in Connecticut, she "de-hispanified" her name because her colleagues had difficulty pronouncing it. Rather than call her "Valeria," they defaulted to calling her "Valerie," and eventually Lacourciere settled on "Val."

"It was a choice I made to be accepted," she said.

At the panel earlier this month, Lacourciere reclaimed her name, introducing herself by saying, "My name is Valeria, and it feels so good to be able to say it that way."

"It truly was a special moment for me to be accepted – just as I am," she recalled. During the panel, she also spoke about her experience as a woman and as a Latina in the news and how, despite being the only representation in her newsroom, she leveraged her background to help Hispanic community members be seen in local reporting.

For Torres, representation is a critical component of the media industry, particularly when it comes to reporting the news.

"Proper representation and diversification in the newsroom and on-air is vital to our success on this national platform, and I’m proud to be a part of a group that reflects that very thing," she said. "We still have work to do, but being at this conference and having those important, sometimes difficult, conversations is what will ultimately contribute to our success."

This honesty about the struggles and successes of the FOX Weather panelists struck a chord with panel attendees, many of whom approached the panelists after the event had ended, according to Herrera.

"We had some awesome people, both recent college graduates and some people still in college, who came to us after and talked with us for several minutes, many of them looking for guidance," he said. "I think we made some good connections. We were the only weather-related panel, and I was proud FOX Weather was the only group with such a panel."

Held in Miami, the convention was hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. According to the NAHJ website, the organization’s mission is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanic students, professionals and educators in the journalism industry.