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Cindy Carcamo of the Los Angeles Times talks about journalism, immigration, and her experience with the French-American Foundation
November 11, 2013
Cindy Carcamo, a 2013 Young Leader of the French-American Foundation, is Arizona Bureau Chief and a National Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, where she covers the Southwestern United States, focusing on border and immigration issues.
Carcamo is a recipient of the French-American Foundation's 2012 Immigration Journalism Award for her Slake magazine narrative about the first 48 hours of a deportee’s life after his return to Guatemala on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement flight from the United States. She was a fellow of the 2012 "Bringing Home the World" Program of the International Center for Journalists, where she wrote a three-part series for the Orange County Register about how the Pacific Ocean has become the latest route for human smuggling into the United States from Mexico. She was also named finalist for the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Journalism, and the 2011 Livingston Award. Carcamo also reported as a correspondent in Argentina and Mexico during her time as an Inter American Press Association scholar.
Cindy, you have already had a very impressive career, and we imagine there are many great things to come. The French-American Foundation has been very fortunate to have you involved in a number of our programs here in the last few years. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your experiences and insights with our Foundation Forum readers.
You returned a few weeks ago from the 2013 Young Leaders Annual Meeting in Atlanta. What did you think of that experience? What were the significant takeaways from the program?
The Young Leaders engaged in a number of activities and were introduced to a number of leaders, organizations, and cultural institutions in Atlanta. Which of these was the most impactful for you and why?
You have worked quite a bit through your journalistic career in Latin America and with the U.S. debate, policy, and relationship surrounding its ever-growing Latino population. Had you previously had much contact with France or Europe? Were there striking differences between your interactions with peers from these two regions?
Through the Young Leaders program, you came in contact with a relatively diverse group of professionals from various fields from both France and the United States. How much of an impact has this network had on your life, whether professionally or personally?
On a personal level, I think it’s wonderful that we’re all scattered across the world. I can see myself visiting other fellows wherever they may be and getting the opportunity to see the place they reside in from their lens. I hope to reciprocate as well, sharing my current place of residence with each Young Leader who happens to be in town.
This was the first year the French-American Foundation invited program alumni to join the Young Leaders for part of the meeting. Did you benefit from meeting with former Young Leaders who have continued to advance in their career since being selected for the program?
What drew you to journalism as a profession? What would you say is the most significant role a journalist and the media play within the greater society? More specifically, what made you want to cover issues pertaining to immigration?
You were among the first class of recipients of the Foundation’s Immigration Journalism Award in 2012. We are preparing to award the second class on November 13 at an Awards Ceremony here in New York. What did the Award and the Foundation’s Immigration Journalism program mean to you? What impact does such an award have on the field of journalism?
Your article in Slake Los Angeles that earned you the award was a narrative that covered the first 48 hours of a Guatemalan deportee’s life after being deported from the United States. As the Foundation’s work on immigration and media has explored, there are many approaches to covering immigration – from the personal narrative to editorial commentary on policy and debate to strict news coverage of the policies being enacted and the trends being seen worldwide. Would you advocate any of these approaches to this very complex issue over the others?
As a last question, could you share with us your reading recommendations? What books or journalistic works have had a particular impact on you in your personal or professional life?
I’ll mention a few books that I’ve recently finished and very much enjoyed reading. First, is Alfredo Corchado’s new book Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness (Penguin Press 2013). Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News and a friend, is an intrepid reporter with a keen eye for detail, which shows in this read—a true story that starts off with a threat against his life, but it’s really a beautifully told story about his deep love for a conflicted country. It’s a must-read for those who want to understand how Mexico got to this point in its history.
Also, I just finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Trade 2008) by Junot Diaz. He is a master wordsmith who pulls together a beautiful tale with vibrant prose about a family in the United States with Dominican roots.
As you can tell, I really enjoy reading books that say something about a place, giving me history as characters develop.