Arellano captures Heartland Emmy

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If you watch KCEC, the Univision-owned television station in Denver, chances are you might have seen Juan Arellano’s name in the list of credits. The Fort Lupton High School graduate is a photo editor there. 

If you watched KCEC’s news story, “Llego La Migra,” then the chances are you saw award-winning work from Arellano and reporter Carlos Moreno.

The pair’s effort on that piece won a Heartland Emmy Award for Best Hard News report. Each region of the country has a Heartland Emmy competition. Arellano’s area covers Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Each TV outlet can submit its best work for the year. 

Arellano had just finished three weeks of training when this story landed on the desk. 

“It happened in November,” Arellano said. “This family called the reporter because ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raided the house and took the father. The reporter talked with the family about the situation. He was there when it happened.” 

Arellano said Moreno has an extended family, both locally and across the country. 

“He’s been here for two years, but he has a lot of followers,” Arellano said. “One of them called him and said, ‘This is happening. You should come.’ We covered it when ICE took the dad. Carlos was trying to help the family by reaching out to ICE, whether there was any chance the father could come out. 

“Those types of stories? You try to reach out and help the community,” Arellano continued. “It’s also an example for other people in the community to be more careful so people know their rights when ICE gets to their house.” 

Arellano’s shift didn’t start until later the day of the raid. 

“The reporter writes the story, gets the interviews. I’m the one who edits it,” Arellano said. “I make sure that everything is good for a live show. That’s what I did for that story.” 

Arellano played soccer for the Bluedevils. 

“When I found out about it, I was excited,” he said. “I was at a (Colorado) Rapids game against San Jose. I was covering that for Univision. The reporter, Carlos, he called me, and he was like, ‘We just won the Emmy for this story.’ He was excited. I was excited, too. But I told him, ‘I’ll call you later. I’m over here working.’” 

Before returning to Denver, Arellano did some on-camera work in Oklahoma City. Soccer was his main interest, but he also had the chance to cover the college football rivalry game between Oklahoma and Texas in the Cotton Bowl. 

“With covering sports, I was more comfortable with that. I grew up playing sports, watching sports,” Arellano said. “I know the games, so I enjoy it better. With covering news, sometimes it’s hard to get peoples’ opinions on things that are going on. Last year, with all the political stuff, we had to get peoples’ reactions. That’s harder. People are afraid to give their opinion or think that somebody’s watching, or ‘I don’t want to be on camera.’ 

Arellano enjoys his time behind the camera. 

“I’m a photography editor. But they rotate us,” he said. “One week, we’re with a reporter. The next week, we’re with another reporter. One week, We go in earlier, they send us the film, like a locator (crime scene). They’d send us over there, get interviews. The next week, we’re in the studio working with the audio.” 

Arellano is a graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver. When he started there, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. 

“I wanted to be around sports, so I got involved with Metro State athletics and their video department,” he said. “It’s hard to find a job without experience. I moved to Oklahoma for a year, got some good experience. I came back here, and COVID hit. I wasn’t working in news. I was working at a tree nursery outside of Fort Lupton. I enjoyed that job. There wasn’t as much pressure.”

A friend at Univision told him about the opening for the job Arellano has.

He’d like to get back into sports reporting at some point. Arellano covered some parts of the all-star baseball game in Denver this summer. 

“I enjoy it. You get to help people. You get to be the voice of the people who don’t really have it. There have been a lot of cases where people reach out to us needing help.

“I have a lot to experience in the field,” he concluded. “I like what I do. Univision is the most-watched Spanish newscast, so I feel like it’s an important part of the community.” 

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