Journalist Julio Ricardo Varela has made his mark in the media world by using his voice and platforms to ensure that Latinos and the issues that affect them are accurately represented in the media.
Julio is the Senior Digital Director for the Futuro Media Group, a Harlem-based independent nonprofit media company founded and led by renowned journalist pionera Maria Hinojosa, host of the Peabody-winning NPR’s Latino USA program. In his multiple roles at Futuro, Julio is the lead editor and publisher for LatinoUSA.org, whose award-winning stories have been consistently cited and picked up by some of the country’s top digital news sites. He also co-hosts with Maria the Webby-nominated In The Thick podcast, a show about politics, race and culture from a POC perspective. In addition, Julio directs Futuro’s entire digital strategy and vision. Since 2015, when Julio joined Maria’s team, Futuro has seen triple-digit growth for all its digital and social properties.
In recent months, Julio has leveraged his voice and presence to amplify the issues affecting his home country of Puerto Rico, with an acute focus on the country’s debt crisis and the mismanagement of the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Through his work and the editorial plan he helped craft that gave voice to local Puerto Rican journalists, he raised awareness of the injustices occurring on the island and the hardships it has endured over the last year. And like any committed journalist, Julio prioritizes accountability in his reporting, especially when it comes to informing the public about government and policy.
A graduate of Harvard College with a cum laude degree in Latin American History and Literature, Julio created Latino Rebels in 2011, after having found success as an independent reporter and commentator. For the past seven years, Latino Rebels has been a bold, authentic and unfiltered voice in the digital media space. It is a “must-read” destination for journalists, storytellers, media makers and others who want to better understand what it means to be Latino, Latina and/or Latinx in this country today. As one of the top U.S. Latino media sites in the world, Latino Rebels is a prominent editorial voice, having broken and made national news countless of times.
In 2015, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored Julio with its inaugural DALE (like Pitbull says it) Award, given to “given to an individual or company that steps up and goes above and beyond to ensure Latinos are fairly and accurately represented.”
Prior to joining Futuro Media, Julio was digital producer for Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” and his work has been featured in many global outlets, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, VOX, ESPN, The New York Times, BBC News, NBC News, Quartz, Le Monde, MSNBC, FOX News, NPR, Face the Nation, Fusion, Univision and Telemundo. He has made numerous national TV and radio appearances for Latino USA, Latino Rebels and Futuro Media.