A year after announcing he would partner with the Los Angeles Times on a race- and identity-focused news venture, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas on Thursday announced plans to launch the project independently.
He's now seeking to raise $1 million for the #EmergingUS venture through journalism crowdfunding site Beacon, which will match up to $500,000 in donations.
In a video released Thursday, Vargas said the media business lacked diversity and that he was "starting this to declare independence from a media infrastructure that does not represent us."
"The media, they like to think that, 'Oh, there's a black story, there's a Latino story, there's an Asian story, there's a gay story," Vargas said in the video. "There's a huge disconnect between the people who are working in American newsrooms and the people they are trying to represent."
Vargas and former Times Publisher Austin Beutner announced the partnership last February, and a formal launch was planned for September. But Times owner Tribune Publishing fired Beutner on Sept. 8., prompting a reconsideration of the venture.
"It really forced me to think about what made sense for EmergingUS," Vargas told The Times on Thursday.
#EmergingUS was conceived as a video-heavy news site that would focus on race, ethnicity and identity. Vargas said the only difference now is that it will be a stand-alone entity.
Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning said in a statement Thursday that the company has agreed to transfer assets developed for the project to Vargas but could not disclose financial details.
“We have enjoyed collaborating with Jose and wish him every success with #EmergingUS,” she said.
Vargas also declined to discuss any financial details of the split.
A former Washington Post reporter, Vargas rose to national prominence in 2011 when the New York Times magazine published an essay in which he revealed he had been brought to the United States illegally as a child.