Robert J. Lopez is a communications and social media expert with extensive experience operating in fast-changing, deadline environments. He is currently the executive director for communications and public affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. Prior to that, he was a journalist who helped produce award-winning investigative and multimedia projects for the Los Angeles Times, where he worked for 22 years. He has taught social media classes for reporters, students and academics in the United States, South America, the Caribbean and Middle East.
He was part of a reporting team that received the 2011 Pulitzer Prize gold medal for Public Service for exposing government corruption in Bell, a city southeast of Los Angeles. The Bell articles were also honored with the George Polk and Seldon Ring awards, among other awards. Lopez currently helps run L.A. Now, producing multimedia reports for the popular breaking-news blog and using social media to share content and search for leads during breaking stories.
He has worked as a digital consultant for the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California and is a former adjunct faculty member at the school. He has also served as a media speaker for the U.S. State Department, teaching social media skills to reporters and university students and professors in Paraguay and the Bahamas. He was also a speaker and panelist for Pal Connect, the first-ever social media conference for Palestinians on the West Bank. The three-day conference featured international and Palestinian social media experts and was held in the Ramallah.
He attended the Knight Foundation’s Digital Media Workshop at UC-Berkeley, as well as other multimedia boot camps. As a reporter, Lopez has investigated issues involving immigration, crime and corruption across the U.S. and in Mexico and Central America. He was part of a group of Times reporters that won a Pulitzer Prize for spot news coverage of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Prior to The Times, he worked at the Oakland Tribune, where he co-authored an article exposing flaws in emergency procedures after a devastating urban wildfire. The article resulted in a state law requiring rescue agencies to coordinate tactics and radio communications during major disasters.
In addition to his journalism, Lopez authored a screenplay for an original movie bought by the FX Network, a true story of Latino immigrants killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which was based on a series he helped report and write for the newspaper. The series was honored as the Best Feature of 2004 by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii.