Gente de NAHJ: Nicole Valdes is a reminder to not forget your roots

Nicole Valdes with FOX Weather, during storm coverage of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

From one of the most diverse weather channels, Nicole Valdes is changing the industry standards as a Latina working for FOX Weather covering the impacts that weather has on underrepresented communities.

“Going into this industry as a whole, I always told myself, if there was ever an opportunity where you didn’t like something and you wanted to see it change, you should jump at the chance to change it yourself,” Valdes said. 

Nicole Valdes in the studio for Fox Weather.

Now reaching her two year mark as news field correspondent at FOX Weather, Valdes work consists of highlighting the significance of weather events and the devastating effects that come along with them. 

Not letting go of her roots in Puerto Rico, Valdes shared her personal connection to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.

Her documentary ‘Ruin & Resurrection: The Fury of Hurricane Maria’ features her own family, showing how Puerto Ricans are still recovering from this natural disaster. Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017. As a Category 4 hurricane, Maria caused over 2,500 fatalities and left $90 billion damage within Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I don’t know that we would have gotten an hour long documentary on Puerto Rico, on this network ever, if I didn’t take this job,” Valdes said. “So I look back at the accomplishments that I’ve been able to make in my two short years here. And I’m proud of them.”

Nicole Valdes in the field covering Hurrican Ian in Florida for Fox Weather.

Her documentary received a wave of positive responses, for putting a spotlight on the injustice underrepresented communities face. Valdes emphasizes the importance of reporting on these issues.

“To be able to be Hispanic and to be on a platform that is known to not have that much of a diverse staff, or, you know, that kind of presence is so rewarding to be the person who can say, ‘I’m helping change that.’”

Not only has she reported on communities she is familiar with, Valdes said she will continue to be the voice of the voiceless. 

“I have gone to so many states that are very much underrepresented, that have very poor communities, and who feel somewhat similar that many Puerto Ricans feel, if I’m being honest with you,” she said. “And I still think it’s my job to do that justice and give it as much heart and passion as the story of Puerto Ricans.”

Daniela Cazares is a senior at the University of Arizona studying journalism. She is the President of the school’s Investigative Reporters and Editors Club and has a passion for covering diverse communities. Reach her at danielacazares [at] arizona [dot] edu and Twitter @dcazaresreports.

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