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Balta Wins at NAHJ, Cheung at AAJA

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Change in Tone Pledged for Hispanic Group

Michelle Johnson Wins as J-Educator Aiding Diversity

Hugo Balta and Paul Cheung

Change in Tone Pledged for Hispanic Group

Hugo Balta, a coordinating producer at ESPN who said he was drafted to challenge board member Russell Contreras for the presidency of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, defeated Contreras Friday.

Balta received 154 votes, or 61 percent, to 95 for Contreras, or 31 percent, according to the NAHJ tally. There were three write-in ballots.

NAHJ membership stands at 1,259, with 614 eligible voters, Anna Lopez Buck, interim executive director, told Journal-isms last week.

Meanwhile, Paul Cheung, global interactive editor for the Associated Press, won over Janet Cho, business reporter at the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, to become national president-elect of the Asian American Journalists Association.

AAJA announced early Saturday that Cheung won with 273 votes to 111 for Cho. In all, 388 votes were cast out of the more than 1,000 possible from members eligible to vote, AAJA said.

Cheung told Journal-isms that he credited his victory to the service he had given the organization. "I made a lot of great friends and . . . at the end, actions speak louder than words," he said Friday night as AAJA conducted its traditional karaoke party.

Cheung has been an AAJA National Governing Board member, was co-director of the OurChinatown hyperlocal news site, an AAJA Executive Leadership Program Media Demonstration Project, oversaw programming for several AAJA conventions and was co-chair of programming for Unity '12. AAJA winners take office on Jan. 1.

Only the national president's race was contested at AAJA. Elected in uncontested races were two journalists of South Asian background: Niala K. Boodhoo, a business reporter at Chicago Public Media, as vice president for broadcast, and Gautham V. Nagesh, editor of Technology Executive Briefing at CQ Roll Call Group, treasurer.

At NAHJ, other results were:

Vice president/print: Erin Ailworth, 227 votes (90%); write-ins, 25 (10%).

Vice president/broadcast: Mekahlo Medina, 148 (59%); Nick Valencia, 95 (38%); write-ins, 9 (4%)

Vice president/online: Rebecca Aguilar, 227 (90%); Francisco Cortes, 104 (41%), write-ins, 3 (1%)

Treasurer: Blanca Torres, 249 votes (99%); write-ins, 3 (1%)

Secretary: Sergio Quintana, 124 (50%); Chris Ramirez, 124 (50%). Ivette Davila-Richard, the Region 2 director who announced the results at the Unity Journalists convention in Las Vegas, said the new NAHJ board will decide how to resolve the tie.

At-Large, General: Elizabeth Alvarez, 234 votes (93%)

At-Large, Academic: Federico Subervi, 235 votes (93%); write-ins, 17 (7%)

At-Large, Spanish Language: Mariela Murdocco, 92 votes (37%); Cesar Arrendondo, 86 votes (34%); Josie Tizcareno, 72 (29%)

Student Representative: Nicole Chavez, University of Texas-El Paso (vote total not available)

Balta promised a change in tone from the previous two years, which outgoing President Michele Salcedo characterized in her farewell speech as culminating in one of the most divisive campaigns in the association's 30-year history. She quoted one former member saying the association was behaving like crabs in a barrel. The campaign included "disrespect and unfounded smears on public pages of Facebook" and degenerated into "bullying. . . . If we don't learn to disagree without being disagreeable, we'll be no more than a clique and irrelevant," she said. "At least four strong candidates refused to run for the board" because of the atmosphere, Salcedo said.

Salcedo was an ally of Contreras, the chief financial officer whom she appointed to the additional post of vice president for print. Although Balta entered the race criticizing Contreras for bullying and disrespecting members, Salcedo appeared to be referring to members critical of her and Contrereas.

By contrast, Balta promised that under his administration, "The NAHJ leadership will be clear and inclusive. We will have an open- door policy to have the voices heard and respected," he said in his acceptance speech. He also promised "a seat at the table" for journalists who had lost their jobs but might be working for the moment in public relations or communicatoins. "This is not a time to segregate," he said, and noted that students represented more than half of the NAHJ membership. "You will have the right to decide NAHJ's leaders," Balta said.

The NAHJ election comes amid disappointing newsroom statistics. In the 2012 newsroom census of the American Society of News Editors, the number of Hispanic journalists working at U.S. dailies dropped from 1,889 to 1,650, a 0.47 percent decrease (4.54 to 4.07 percent). The local television workforce was 7.3 percent [PDF] Hispanic, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association, while in radio it was 2.6 percent. Those figures contrast with the 16.7 percent Hispanic share of the nation's total population, according to figures for 2011 from the U.S. Census.

"NAHJ has some very difficult times ahead," Veronica Villafañe, NAHJ president from 2004 to 2006 and a Balta supporter, told Journal-isms after the results were announced. She said she was referring to NAHJ's financial recovery and the contentiousness of the past two years. "In the words of Will Sutton," a Unity co-founder who spoke earlier in the week, "it's time to heal." She said she hoped all started working toward the same goal.

In another development, CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, which in its 40th year calls itself the nation's oldest organization of journalists of color, announced at the banquet that it has found new office space, after being asked to vacate the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. It has been on that Los Angeles campus since 1979.

Yvette Cabrera, former Orange County Register columnist who is president of CCNMA, said the organization will move to the Santa Monica, Calif., offices of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. NAHJ inducted CCNMA into its Hall of Fame.

Michelle Johnson Wins as J-Educator Aiding Diversity

Michelle Johnson, an associate professor of the practice, journalism at Boston University who has taught multimedia workshops for professional journalists and long conducted student training programs for the journalism associations, has been awarded the Barry Bingham Sr. fellowship of the Association of Opinion Journalists Foundation, the foundation told Johnson on Friday.

The award honors an educator who encourages students of color in the field of journalism.

Michelle Johnson, left, and Yvonne LattyFor more than two decades, Johnson has conducted student training programs for such organizations as the American Society of News Editors, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and Unity Journalists, formerly known as Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc.

She learned of her selection by email at the Unity '12 convention in Las Vegas, where she was again working with the student news projects. By coincidence, Yvonne Latty of New York University, last year's winner, was also in attendance, about to participate on a panel, and the two took a photo together.

"I'm particularly moved to receive this today because I happen to be at the UNITY conference working with the Student Newsroom," Johnson replied by email to the association foundation. "We have 30 talented minority journalism students here covering the conference in print, video, radio and online ( Encouraging young people of color to enter the profession has been my life's work. I so appreciate the recognition."

Before joining the faculty at Boston University, Johnson was a Journalist-in-Residence at Emerson College where she was a technology manager assisting in renovation of the department into a multimillion-dollar, cross-platform facility, as well as helping to revise the department's curriculum. She also lectured as an adjunct in the journalism department at Boston University from 2003 to 2006.

The award is to be presented at the Association of Opinion Journalists convention Sept. 20-22 in Orlando.


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.

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We Did It

We did it! congratulations to Hugo Balta, Mekahlo Medina, Rebbeca Aguilar and company. As a former board menber, I know how it has been a painful road for NAHJ but all efforts of those who speak out for the greater good will not be in vain. Best news, a new page, a new chapter.  A new NAHJ Board. A significant triumph for all. I look forward to increase inclusion and transparency.  You did it, now a trabajar!

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