Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

NAHJ Contest Possible After All

Send by email
Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hugo Balta Says He Will Respond to Petition Drive

Times-Picayune, Ala. Papers Scale Back Print Editions

USA Today Says It's Adding in Sports, Not Subtracting

Andy Harvey, Navajo Ex-Television Journalist, Dies at 35

New York Times Fills a Void: a Black Sports Reporter

Tara Wall Joins Romney as Senior African American

Hal Jackson Death Makes Next Day's Amsterdam News

Short Takes

Hugo Balta Says He Will Respond to Petition Drive

Hugo Balta, a coordinating producer at ESPN who lost the presidency of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists two years ago by 13 votes, said Friday that he would respond to what supporters called "a grassroots, member-driven effort" and run for president of the association.

Balta said his statement was conditional on the approval of ESPN.

The association Friday moved back the candidates' filing deadline from Tuesday to June 9 "because of concerns raised about adequate time to collect nomination signatures and in the interest of being fair," President Michele Salcedo said in a notice on the NAHJ website.

[On Saturday, Balta wrote that NAHJ told him he had more than enough signatures to qualify.]

Balta, 42, is among a group of NAHJ members who have been critical of the only declared candidate, Russell Contreras, 38, the association's chief financial officer and vice Hugo Balta, left, and Russell Contreraspresident for print, on grounds of character and temperament. Contreras has engaged in "continued damaging behavior" that Balta called "unprofessional, embarrassing, destructive and sophomoric" and is disrespectful to those who disagree with him, Balta has said.

"I would be happy to run on behalf of the members if NAHJ if nominated to," Balta, a former NAHJ vice president/broadcast, told Journal-isms by email. "I'm always willing to serve when asked to."

He added, "Everything is happening so quickly. My team and I have to iron out a solid argument for members' vote and confidence.

"I can tell you part of the campaign will be to grow NAHJ by being fiscally assertive (expenses, fundraising), transparent and inclusive of members in decisions that affect services and respectful of the members and sponsors who are the backbone of the association."

Asked his thoughts on the prospect of Balta in the race, Contreras told Journal-isms by email, "I welcome it. I'm running on my record and expect other candidates who get on the ballot to do the same."

According to Vicki Adame, an NAHJ member who is co-creator with Balta of the Latino Multimedia Communicators Facebook page, the drive to make Balta a candidate was membership-driven. She wrote Journal-isms on Thursday, "a grassroots, member-driven movement has emerged to get Hugo Balta on the ballot for NAHJ president. This all emerged within the last day, day and a half. I believe most members feel such an important position should have more than one candidate."

She added, "Hugo is aware of it. Over the course of the past couple of months he has been approached by several members expressing their desire for him to run. And after much thought and an in-depth conversation with a trusted friend, he agreed to be the members' candidate if they were successful in gathering the required signatures to place his name on the ballot. This truly has been a grassroots movement led by the members."

On Thursday evening, Adame emailed NAHJ members a petition to endorse Balta's candidacy. Adame, who is now Balta's campaign manager, said on Friday, "In terms of signatures it appears we have more signatures than the required 25, but we . . . will continue to get signatures up until the deadline or until Hugo is informed of his candidacy eligibility."

Although the filing deadline has not yet arrived and no one has been certified, the campaign has begun. Contreras posted a YouTube video on May 16 and an anonymous poster published two rebuttals. Elaine Aradillas, the NAHJ elections chair, did not respond to an inquiry about when the election rules permit campaigning.

Contreras, a reporter for the Associated Press, told Journal-isms in a statement on Wednesday, "My record on the NAHJ board speaks for itself. As financial officer, I have attended every board meeting and I created a painful, but needed austerity budget that took NAHJ from $350,000 in the red to a $111,000 surplus in 2011. The budget was given the go ahead by our financial advisory committee made up of one academic and three media executives and was approved unanimously by the board 11-0. Our 2012 budget also projects similar positive numbers if we continue to hold our spending and reach our fundraising benchmarks."

Balta said he expected to hear from his employer within the next two weeks. His candidacy "needs to be vetted through several groups internally," he said.

Times-Picayune, Ala. Papers Scale Back Print Editions

"The Times-Picayune, a 175-year-old fixture in New Orleans and a symbol of the city's gritty resilience during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, has buckled under the pressures of the modern newspaper market," David Carr reported Friday for the New York Times.

"Advance Publications, owned by the Newhouse family, said Thursday it would scale back the printed edition to three days a week and impose staff cuts as a way to reduce costs as well as shift its emphasis to expanded online coverage.

"The decision will leave New Orleans as the most prominent American city without a newspaper that is printed every day. But it also reflects the declining lure of the paper as a printed product. In 2005, before Katrina struck, the paper had a daily circulation of 261,000; in March of this year, the circulation was 132,000."

Other Newhouse papers followed. "Three of Alabama’s largest newspapers, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Press-Register in Mobile, will drop daily circulation this fall and distribute printed editions three days a week," the Associated Press reported on Friday.

"Meanwhile, all three will put new emphasis on their website.

"The three newspapers will be delivered to homes and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

"Cindy Martin, president and CEO of, said rapid advances in how readers engage news content is driving the change and should 'position us to be a healthy, growing company.'

"Employees of three Advance Publications newspapers were informed of the changes Thursday morning and were told there will be unspecified staff reductions. Employees said they had been hearing speculation about a big announcement for a couple of weeks, but the scope of the announcement was a surprise. All expressed concern for the future of their jobs in the restructured publications."

USA Today Says It's Adding in Sports, Not Subtracting

"It's never fun to let go of employees, and it's even less fun being portrayed as the bad guy on Twitter and elsewhere," Ed Sherman wrote Friday for the Sherman Report.

" 'It's a difficult process. I’m not getting around it,' said Dave Morgan, the editor-in-chief for USA Today's sports group in an interview Friday morning.

"A total of 15 sports staffers were trimmed this week, including Michael McCarthy, who wrote on sports media, Tom Weir, Tom Pedulla and Mike Dodd."

As reported in this space on Wednesday, the 15 also included five black sports journalists: G.E. Branch, assignment editor; J. Michael Falgoust, NBA reporter; Gene Farris, web and video editor; Gary Graves, NFL reporter; and Dixie Vereen, design editor.

Sherman continued, "Morgan said the moves were made as part of a reorganization of the USA Today sports group among its many platforms, and that includes a dramatic upcoming renovation and upgrade of its website.

" 'This is about us resetting our priorities and redefining our roles going forward,' he said.

"Among key points, Morgan stressed, 'This isn't a cost-cutting exercise. We're probably adding 20 positions over where we started.'

"He said this move isn't a case of dumping old, expensive journalists in favor of young, cheap journalists." Sherman published a Q-and-A with Morgan.

Andy Harvey was 'real gifted in dealing with everyday people' (Credit: KPNX-TV)

Andy Harvey, Navajo Ex-TV Journalist, Dies at 35

Andy Harvey, a Navajo former television journalist and board member of the Native American Journalists Association, was found dead early Thursday in his Phoenix apartment, police said. He was 35 and had worked since March as senior public information officer for the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education. Diné is the Navajo word for "Navajo."

Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said that foul play was not suspected and that the case was referred to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office. "We're considering it as a death unknown," Thompson said by telephone.

Mark Casey, vice president and news director of Phoenix's KPNX-TV, known as 12 News, said Harvey worked there from 2006 to 2011 and brought a special perspective. "He looked different. He was a Native American," Casey said. "He had hair down to his waist that he would pull back into a ponytail. He was over 6 feet. He was a warm figure, and he loved to go home," to the Navajo reservation. "He was always pitching stories about the tribe and the reservation."

Casey said he told Harvey to bring back stories about life on the reservation. "Give us a look at something that many of us don't experience. We miss that perspective. I wish he was still with us and with 12 News," Casey said.

Harvey's tenure overlapped with that of another Native reporter, Mary Kim Titla, a San Carlos Apache who worked at 12 News for almost 20 years. She ran for Congress in 2008 and is now pursuing tribal office.

"What Andy had and Mary Kim has is a real . . . public affairs sense of responsibility for their communities, a sense of public service," Casey said. "They see journalism as public service. They get it.

"He was real gifted in dealing with everyday people," Casey said of Harvey. "He was able to get people to trust him, and so he was able to get those stories, very good."

According to the Radio Television Digital News Association, Native Americans comprised .4 percent of the broadcast television workforce [PDF] in 2011.

Asked about prospects for another Native journalist at his station, the news director told Journal-isms, "There aren't many Native American journalists who are doing large-market television news." But, he said, "I would love to have another Native American journalist." 

Harvey was born and raised on the Navajo reservation near the Four Corners area in Shiprock, N.M. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a master of arts in rhetoric and composition and a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism.

He worked at KNAZ-TV in Flagstaff, Ariz., on the floor crew, doing production and on-air work before leaving for KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D., where, Casey said, "He was all over the place."

Harvey wrote on his KPNX profile, "I had dreams of becoming a nurse like my mom, but decided to go into broadcast journalism. I did, however, work as a certified nurse assistant for two years while in college. I had a great opportunity to hike up Mount Rushmore while working as a reporter in South Dakota. Not too many people can say they stood on a president's head," the Navajo Post reported.

Harvey was ending his first three-year term on the NAJA board, NAJA said in a statement. He was a member of NAJA student projects in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2000 and was recently a mentor for NAJA student projects in St. Paul, Minn., in 2010. He was elected to the NAJA board during the 25th annual conference in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2009.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Casey said journalists interested in working at KPNX-TV should go to and click on the "Jobs" tab. The applications "come right to me," he said.

New York Times Fills a Void: a Black Sports Reporter

The New York Times will have a black reporter in its sports section again, columnist William Rhoden notwithstanding. Nate Taylor of the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., told Journal-isms that he has accepted a job in the department under a program that hires young reporters on a probationary basis.

Nate TaylorA section that once had six African American reporters was left with none in March when Jonathan Abrams departed after three years to join Grantland, a startup website backed by ESPN.

Sports Editor Joe Sexton did not respond to messages from Journal-isms, but Taylor told Journal-isms by email, "I will be an intermediate reporter in sports with the New York Times through its 8i program. I will be covering a variety of sports. I'll start the new job June 18."

Doree Shafrir of the New York Observer wrote of the 8i program in 2007 when the Times hired Brian Stelter, then 21, as a media reporter. "Mr. Stelter was hired under The New York Times' '8i' program, which for years hired young reporters on a probationary basis, rotating them around usually to several different desks and then opting to make them permanent (union) employees if they proved themselves," she wrote. "No one was expected to start in the program with a specialty already developed (at least, developed to Times specifications)."

According to a brief N&O bio, Taylor is a sports reporter at the News & Observer and sports editor for the North Raleigh News and the Midtown Raleigh News. He has written for the Boston Globe, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and his hometown newspaper, the Kansas City Star. He graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 2010 and is a 2009 Sports Journalism Institute alumnus.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, walks down a hallway in Blu

Tara Wall Joins Romney as Senior African American

Tara Wall, a former newscaster, Republican National Committee senior adviser, George W. Bush appointee, conservative columnist and deputy editorial page editor for the Washington Times, was hired recently as a senior communications adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign to handle outreach to African Americans, Nia-Malika Henderson and Philip Rucker reported Thursday for the Washington Post.

"Mitt Romney's campaign team has been quietly laying plans for an outreach effort to President Obama's most loyal supporters — black voters Tara Wall— not just to chip away at the huge Democratic margins but also as a way to reassure independent swing voters that Romney can be inclusive and tolerant in his thinking and approach," they wrote.

Henderson and Rucker described Wall as the most senior African American on Romney's team, reporting that she "spent this week meeting with other top advisers crafting an outreach plan."

They quoted Wall: "From a messaging standpoint, we need to be able to communicate and relate to these communities about how they are being impacted by Obama's policies. It's the right thing to do, and it's an important part of the process. It's not a ploy, it's not a tactic, it's part of who we are. We have to show up."

Perry Bacon Jr. added for "In an interview with theGrio, Wall said her role would not be just outreach to blacks, but women and other groups, as well as shaping Romney’s overall communications strategy."

According to a bio, Wall "joined the RNC in May 2004 after spending 13 years as a news reporter, anchor and host for local ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates in Michigan.

"Wall created, executive produced and hosted a talk show for the CBS affiliate in Detroit called 'Street Beat,' a weekly, half-hour political affairs program featuring top lawmakers, political, community and business leaders. As a reporter, Wall produced numerous investigative, series and documentary pieces. She was first to uncover and exclusively report the infamous 'Mayor's Memo' story that involved Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and governor-elect Jennifer Granholm in 2002."

Quick work by the New York Amsterdam News. (Credit: TONTO RegginRazzi)


Hal Jackson Death Makes Next Day's Amsterdam News

When Chuck Brown, the "godfather of go-go music," died a week ago Wednesday, the news came too late to make that week's black newspapers. But when black-radio legend Harold "Hal" Jackson died at 96 this Wednesday, the weekly New York Amsterdam News was able to lead its Thursday edition with it.

"We found out at 5 p.m., Elinor Tatum, editor in chief and publisher, told Journal-isms. "Our deadline to be in the printer is 7 p.m." While Tatum was trying to reach reporters, she received an email about the death from entertainment reporter Flo Anthony and asked Anthony if she could write a story quickly. She did.

Short Takes

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter

Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Russell Contreras


Russell Contreras has the qualities of a leader and is part of the next generation of working journalists who can take NAHJ forward while grooming journalists younger than him to take his place in the future. Not everyone is polished. Everyone needs coaching and help in one place or another, be it in reporting, writing or in their management or their people skills. Some of Russell's critics have had their own problems with being over aggressive or allowing their anger to get the best of them or being accused of being difficult personalities. They should be offering coaching and tips on what they have learned to help this young man who has a good heart, great financial skills, passion of an activist, the commitment to give a majority of his time to the NAHJ cause, creativity and a terrific sense of humor to help him polish his diplomacy skills. That is the purpose of NAHJ _ for those who have served, those who have achieved, to pass the torch to the next generation, not hold onto it for themselves. I am heartsick such a fine young man has been so viciously attacked.


Russell Contreras

Suzanne, I think Russell has proven he has certain leadership skills...I believe them to be unquestionable. I not only agree with you that he needs coaching and training in managing people skills (and I would add communication)...I offer to help (having mentored, trained and coached employees on the subject for 10 years now). But I disagree with you on your assessment that Russell is simply misunderstood. If he has been attacked (and I think others would say stating their differences with Russell isn't an attack) it's because he has provoked it (in his board position these past 2 years). The outrage with his behavior isn't exclusive to the last few days, weeks or months. And to be constructively critical, what I've seen, heard and experienced has less to do with proper people skills and more to do with common sense and basic respect for others (and their opinions). Treat others like you would like them to treat you. Hugo Balta

Russell Contreras

A 38-year-old year old man is not a young man. 



Russell Contreras

How can you offer tips and coaching to someone who blocks and insults his critics?

People feel so strongly about Mr. Contreras for a reason. He/You should accept responsibility for it instead of blaming others.

That is an important step in maturity and adulthood.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.