Felipe Diaz – Arts & Culture Editor, 303 Magazine
By Amanda Belo
Look at the makeup of this country. Bustling with a variety of cultures and ethnicities, sometimes a few get lost or are omitted in the mainstream media. Writer Felipe Diaz strongly believes in the importance of diversity and balanced representation when it comes to showcasing community. As the new arts and culture editor at 303 Magazine, he plans to highlight Denver’s diverse offerings.
Diaz jumped into his new role a little less than a month ago after he was a writing intern with 303. Before that, he held a similar position at Being Latino. He said that so far things are going well with his added duties; it is just a matter of getting adjusted to coordination between media firms and the writers he oversees in his section to set up things like event coverage.
He appreciates the art and culture beat because of the variety of mediums and platforms that he is able to cover. Diaz also enjoys getting to know artists and their way of thinking.
“When an artist has a really provocative piece of work, it’s incredible to be able to talk to them about it and learn about the inspiration and process behind their work.”
Along with more responsibility at 303, there are perks in being part of the decision making process.
“I like the sense that I have a little more control over the content,” said Diaz. “It’s just nice to decide what kind of stories we like to highlight in the arts and culture section. In that sense it also feels like we’re able to be trendsetters.”
Diaz seems to be on his way to breaking out unique content, with plans to bring more widespread, culturally related art to light. Being a child of Mexican immigrants and having a desire to bring less mainstream or commonplace points of view to the forefront are qualities he regarded as part of his strength and distinctiveness as an editor.
“[As a Mexican-American], I think that I do try to make it a point to cover more culturally related art shows and films; something that you might not hear so much about through the mainstream. Denver has the Santa Fe art district with tons of mainstream art studios and things like that, but there’s also a really big Latino presence.”
He mentioned the concert hall/studio Museo de las Americas and a film adaptation of a Spanish folktale he wrote about as examples of stories with news opportunities that go beyond the norm. Along with the Latino perspective, Diaz added several other groups that he wants to contribute to the conversation.
“…My perspective alone isn’t enough. Which is why, as editor, I plan to hire new interns from different backgrounds. I want writers who are from other parts of the world. I want people of color writers. I want LGBT writers. I want young writers. I want poor writers. I’m interested in anyone who can bring a new or unpopular perspective to the table.”
Even beyond cultural diversity, Diaz wishes to give a voice to the little guys, the creatives out there trying to make a name for themselves. He said that there is still interest in popular films and exhibits, but he is “specifically looking for new authors, up-and-coming artists, and independent/student films at festivals.”
“Denver is such a diverse city and if we’re not covering all the different talent, then we’re not showing you the real Denver.”
Diaz’s preferred form of contact is e-mail. He has local consultants that he often works with, so if there is no prior relationship, he said it is a good idea to send an introduction e-mail.
As an editor for a locally focused publication, he not only looks for story ideas and submissions from PR professionals that are unique, but those that would appeal to the Denver community.
He said, “The first thing I look for are things with a local aspect, like art openings, film festivals, or even local authors or directors… [I also look at] things that will actually matter to our readers; something that they can go see, do and experience themselves in Denver.”
One thing Diaz does not look for are promotional messages sent without thought or some attempt at customization.
“Since I took on the new role, my name has gone off to [media lists], so I get a lot of stories from people just promoting their work. The pet peeve is that they will just send the e-mail out through a mass mailing list. I’m not necessarily saying that I want a specifically tailored pitch, but just take a minute or two to maybe write out my name, or say something like ‘Hey, this could be a great fit for Denver or 303.’ Not just writing ‘Hey, want to cover this? Please contact me’.”
Diaz also mentioned that with summer coming up, more film coverage is a major topic of interest in the art and culture section.
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