Author, award-winning journalist and Emmy-winning news anchor León Krauze has been appointed the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Journalism, USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism announced.
A native of Mexico and a longtime chronicler of U.S. politics, immigration, and the lives of Angelenos, Krauze is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, The Daily Beast and KCRW’s “Left Right and Center.” He also writes a weekly column for Mexico’s El Universal. His 2005 book, “La Casa Dividida,” covered the first five years of the George W. Bush presidency.
Krauze will use his extraordinary career and professional experience to deepen community reporting in USC Annenberg’s journalism program, from instruction to production, said Willow Bay, director of the School of Journalism.
“I’m excited about the opportunity this offers our students — to work alongside León, to go out in the field with him, to learn about understanding and appreciating community in deeper ways,” Bay said. “From him, they will learn his unique craft, his ability to parse the rich details of daily life in a way that elicits powerful insights and builds a tapestry of human experience.”
Krauze’s current project, a collection of on-the-street interviews of Hispanic residents in Los Angeles titled “La Mesa,” has been broadcast by Univision and curated in Krauze’s latest book, of the same name. He describes the work as a portrait of what it’s like to be Hispanic in Southern California in 2016.
The project has become the inspiration for new USC Annenberg student-generated work. As part of his focus as Wallis Annenberg Chair, Krauze will lead students in the reporting and writing of similarly styled interviews. He aims to help students embed with Los Angeles families, of all ethnicities, for two months, and to guide and mentor them as they produce documentary videos and text stories.
Krauze hopes the work will broaden and deepen the mosaic he started creating very simply — by taking a chair and folding table to street corners in Los Angeles and reaching out to passersby. Combining that with the chance to teach journalism students is a thrilling opportunity, Krauze said.
“I am incredibly excited. One of the best experiences of my life was teaching in Mexico,” said Krauze, who – after earning a master’s degree in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University – returned to Mexico City and worked as a professor at Tecnologico de Monterrey and Universidad Iberoamericana. There, he created a workshop on magazine production for communication students.
“Learning from the students, hearing from them and sharing the craft of media production, made me a better person,” Krauze said. “To be able to contribute to a place like USC Annenberg, which is the foremost institution when it comes to communication and journalism, is a dream come true. I hope to contribute in whatever capacity I can to the school’s faculty — but most of all, the wonderful community of students.”
Krauze serves as the main anchor at Univison’s KMEX station in Los Angeles, and has extensive broadcast experience — including anchoring the flagship newscast for Foro TV, Televisa’s 24/7 network. He was the longtime host of “Segunda Emisión,” Mexico’s highest-rated afternoon radio news magazine.
Besides his work at Univision, he’s also a regular at Fusion, where he hosted the show “Open Source.” He has won six Emmys, two Golden Mics, an Edward R. Murrow award and a Southern California Journalism Award from the Los Angeles Press Club. GQ Magazine named Krauze Mexico’s Journalist of the Year in 2011.
Krauze has a deep love of U.S. politics, and said he’s been a junkie since he was a teenager, watching Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot debate NAFTA on Larry King. That passion steered his career toward American politics; now he has interviews with President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders logged in his most recent journalism credits.
He’s been published in The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, El Pais, Letras Libres, and many others. His weekly podcast, “Epicentro,” can be heard at dixo.com.
Besides his journalism career, he’s written two books on the history of soccer and also is a successful novelist of fantasy fare and children’s literature.
He lives with his wife and three sons in Santa Monica.
The USC Annenberg School of Journalism Wallis Annenberg Endowed Chair is a termed chair position held by a transformational interdisciplinary professional or scholar, a thought leader, innovator and proven collaborator who can foster deep and meaningful connections between USC Annenberg, the wider academic community and private industry. The school hopes the holder of the Wallis Annenberg Endowed Chair will play a significant role in shaping the future of journalism and communication.