NAHJ's "Last Stand-Alone Convention"
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Russell Contreras, chief financial officer of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and now additionally its vice president for print, tells NAHJ members the budget he developed will place NAHJ in the black. At left are Erin Ailworth, the board secretary, and Ivan Roman, executive director. (Credit: Melvin Felix/Latino Reporter Digital)
Leaders of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, wrestling with a financial crisis that has resulted in plans to lay off most of its staff and other austerity measures, told members Friday of another significant development.
"This convention here is our last stand-alone convention," Russell Contreras, chief financial officer, said at the organization's business meeting at Walt Disney World near Orlando.
"We'd like to have a joint convention with either AAJA or other professional organizations so we can bid collectively," Contreras said, speaking of the Asian American Journalists Association.
Doris Truong, AAJA national president, confirmed a report in the student-produced Latino Reporter Digital that Contreras approached her about a potential partnership and has invited him to give the AAJA board a presentation about the potential partnership at its meeting in August.
Ivan Roman, who leaves as executive director in August, told Journal-isms that the Online News Association or Investigative Reporters and Editors might also be possibilities. He said NAHJ would seek organizations that have not already made their convention plans for 2013. The National Association of Black Journalists, for example, has already selected sites through 2015.
Ramon Chavez, an NAHJ member based at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, home of the Native American Journalists Association, said from the floor that he could speak for NAJA. "We're very open to the idea of the joint convention after the Unity convention" in 2012, he said.
Also at the meeting, NAHJ President Michele Salcedo said Contreras, a reporter with the Associated Press in Boston, would serve in two positions on the NAHJ executive committee, as vice president for print as well as chief financial officer.
Gustavo Reveles, the current vice president for print, left his reporting job at the El Paso Times in December to become public information officer of the local school district, but he remained in his NAHJ post through the convention.
Contreras "has agreed to step forward and hold both of those seats," Salcedo told the members.
NAHJ said in December that it was projecting a $240,000 deficit for the year. "Our priority is to stop the bleeding," Salcedo told members on Friday.
NAHJ's response to its financial crisis dominated the business meeting, where Salcedo said the organization also needed to focus on membership and on journalists who are in mid-career.
Contreras told attendees, "We are projected to end the year with more money than we started, but to get there we had to make a lot of painful decisions."
Some speakers were teary-eyed as they thanked Roman and the four other NAHJ staff members who will be leaving. The austerity budget includes funds beyond June 30 only for an executive director "and a part-time contractor to match members with jobs." Kevin Olivas will be the part-time staffer. Salcedo said an interim executive director would be picked within 30 days, with fundraising experience a priority.
Roman, executive director since 2003, has held the position longer than any of his counterparts currently with the journalist of color associations. He received a sustained standing ovation as he told the audience, "You have a very well-loved staff, and we did it all for you and I really can't say anything more."
Others faulted the board for not providing severance pay for those departing. "As bad as things are, we can find a way to thank them," said former NAHJ president Juan Gonzalez. He prompted the board to join members in a strategic planning meeting immediately afterward, while so many of NAHJ's "best minds" were in the room. "This is not business as usual. This is a major crisis," Gonzalez said.
Roman told Journal-isms that the convention was projected to bring in a surplus of $170,000 to $220,000. It attracted 870 people, with 520 paid registrants, he said. That contrasts with 650 to 700 attendees with 425 paid registrants at last year's convention in Denver, he said.
The number of Hispanic journalists in newspaper and online newsrooms fell from 4.63 percent in 2010 to 4.54 in 2011, according to the American Society of News Editors' annual diversity survey. By contrast, the U.S. Census bureau reported that "by 2010, Hispanics comprised 16 percent of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million."
In a sentiment that seemed to permeate the convention, Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez, a reporter for KJZZ radio in Phoenix who stepped forward to run for the NAHJ board, said, "We're in the 21st century, and Latinos have yet to have real representation anywhere, including in the newsroom."
At a session for broadcasters, "Latina Journalists Wanted!," some attendees complained that they were expected "to look like a white girl from Boston" and lose their Latina distinctiveness. Former CNN host Rick Sanchez, one of the panelists, advised, "Always adapt a little to your surroundings but not so that you sell your soul."
Viviana Hurtado, a former reporter for ABC News, said she had started a blog called "The Wise Latina Club" because she was dismayed that Sonia Sotomayor, after her nomination to the Supreme Court in 2009, was subjected to questions that would not be asked of non-Latinas. Not enough Latino news executives were in positions to prod reporters to call out those who stepped over the line, she said.
At a session on coverage of the Arizona immigration debate, panelists and attendees said many in the media had failed to dig deeply enough in reporting on the opposition to immigration. Telemundo found white supremacist ties, said Ramon Escobar, executive vice president for news. He also said that attitudes changed in Joplin, Mo., after Latinos participated in the post-tornado cleanup.
While Latino news executives could have eased some of those complaints, Gonzalez told the group that he, at least, does not attend NAHJ conventions to find a job. "An educated Latino" can find a job somewhere, he said. For him, Gonzalez said, NAHJ's most important mission is "to improve the image of the Latino in this country."
The two missions might complement each other. In either case, journeymen journalists and managers might be in the best position to effect change.
"This organization is very brilliant at nurturing young talent," Salcedo said. "Where we don't so well is between nurturing the career and retirement.
"Until that happens, it's going to be more of the same."
"That other network just gets by on their giant reputation, and you guys have to stop giving them a pass," according to Ramon Escobar, executive vice president for news at NBC-owned Telemundo, second to Univision as the nation's largest Spanish-language network.
Escobar was speaking at a workshop at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention on the immigration controversy in Arizona. He said that Telemundo had been first on the ground and that rival Univision didn't show up until late in the game.
Then he referred to the convention's job fair. "They don't even have a booth here," Escobar said.
Asked to comment on that part of Escobar's remarks, Univision responded by avoiding mention of the job fair:
"Univision is a strong supporter and partner of NAHJ. As such, we had a strong presence at this year’s convention, including participation of one of Univision’s leading journalists and an NAHJ founding member, Teresa Rodriguez; our president of news participated on a panel; we sponsored the networking reception and launched a fellowship program with the Columbia School of Journalism."
The fellowship program was announced on Thursday. The announcement says, in part:
"Up to 10 graduates from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism will be hired annually by Univision. The fellows will work for an initial six-month period at the company’s Miami headquarters, and will be assigned to one of Univision’s News division units: documentary, investigative and new media.
"Fellows will be treated as Univision employees, and be supervised and evaluated by each of the Unit’s coordinators. Univision will provide training and evaluation for each fellow when they begin the program. At the completion of the fellowship, the fellows may be considered for a permanent position at Univision."
- Melvin Félix, Latino Reporter Digital: Sponsors’ Dilemma: UNITY or NABJ in 2012?
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- Brenda Medina, Latino Reporter Digital: Departing ED Iván Román Reflects Upon His Years in NAHJ (June 18)
- PepsiCo Contributes $50,000 to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) for Scholarships and Internships (news release)
- Cristina Rojas, Latino Reporter Digital: Rocky Board Relationship Settling Down?
"Oprah Winfrey says she wants to interview O.J. Simpson. Not only does she want to interview him, but she wants to interview him on the condition that he 'confesses to me,' " TVWeek reported on Thursday.
"Winfrey made her remarks today during the general session at the NCTA Cable Show at the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago. She was interviewed by Discovery's Paula Zahn.
"The question to ask about Oprah's wish to interview Simpson and get him to confess is why she would think he would ever do such a thing. Simpson was found not guilty by a jury in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a friend, Ron Goldman.
"Winfrey had an answer to that: The same forces in the universe that led a poor girl in Mississippi to become a very successful talk show host will make it possible.
"Besides Simpson, Oprah said there was only one other person she'd like to interview that she's never been able to: Susan Smith, who infamously killed her children and lied about doing so."
Smith, who is white, first told police that she had been carjacked by a black man who kidnapped the boys, causing a manhunt. But she had killed her sons by rolling her car into a lake.
In December, then Gov.-elect Nikki Haley of South Carolina said she wouldn't grant Winfrey access to Smith, continuing the state Department of Corrections' long-standing policy of barring inmates from giving interviews, the Post and Courier in Charleston reported.
- Andrea Morabito, Multichannel News: Cable Show 2011: Oprah Reassures Cable Audience She's 'All In' On OWN
"Two southeast Michigan media organizations announced the launch of a new partnership that spotlights the contributions of the region's ethnic, minority and immigrant entrepreneurs," the Arab American News, based in Dearborn, Mich., reported on Thursday.
"New Michigan Media and Issue Media Group have collaborated to form the Ethnic and Minority Media Partnership. The partnership was announced June 2 at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference.
"Issue Media Group's website now features stories from New Michigan Media's five largest ethnic publications — The Arab American News, The Jewish News, The Michigan Korean Weekly, The Latino Press and The Michigan Chronicle.
"Participating ethnic media will develop, write, and publish stories about Southeast Michigan entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial successes from their own ethnic communities.
". . . The partnership draws attention to the impact ethnic, minority and immigrant communities have on the economy. Over one decade immigrant-founded ventures created 450,000 jobs and represented a market capitalization of roughly $500 billion. Southeast Michigan's immigrant entrepreneurs were six times as likely to start a high-tech firm from 1995-2005, placing the state third compared to all 50 states, and are nearly four times as likely to file an international patent. Michigan ranks eighth out of all 50 states in filing these types of patents. Immigrants are more than three times as likely to start a new business."
Michelle Obama tells BET viewers,“When you connect with other young people, when you share your thoughts and ideas and take the time to listen to theirs, you begin to realize just how much you have in common." (video)
"First lady Michelle Obama appeared on '106 & Park' on Thursday to discuss her upcoming trip to South Africa and Botswana June 20-26. Obama is scheduled to meet prominent public officials and men and women who’ve made history, but the people she’s most excited about interacting with are the youth who will one day lead the two nations," Joyce Jones reported for BET.com. "106th & Park" is one of BET's most popular series.
" 'I’m doing this because we know that Africa is a fundamental part of our interconnected world and when it comes to meeting the challenges of our time — whether it’s climate change or extremism, poverty or disease, the world is looking to African nations as vital partners,' she said, adding that the world will look to the continent’s young people 'to help lead the way.' "
Before Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., resigned this week over the tabloid scandal involving suggestive photos he sent over the Internet, Salon's Steve Kornacki wrote that "if this does end up being the end for Weiner's public career, it might not be quite the injustice it seems like — at least if you know how his career began.
"Twenty years ago, Weiner was a young aide to an ambitious, still somewhat obscure Brooklyn congressman named Charles Schumer," now a U.S. senator, Kornacki wrote.
". . . Weiner's opening came in 1991, when the City Council was radically expanded, from 35 to 51 seats. One of the new districts, the 48th, would be in Southern Brooklyn. It was a neat match for Weiner. The new seat was in the heart of Schumer's district, there was no incumbent, and the population was heavily Jewish. He jumped in the race.
"He was not the favorite. Two other candidates with more name recognition, deeper ties to the community, stronger organizational support, and bigger bankrolls seemed to have the inside track: Michael Garson (the candidate of the Brooklyn Democratic organization) and Adele Cohen (the favorite of a progressive/labor coalition that backed candidates across the city in '91).
". . . Weiner's campaign decided to blanket the district with leaflets attacking his opponents. But these were no ordinary campaign attacks: They played the race card, and at a very sensitive time. They were also anonymous.
"Just weeks earlier, the Crown Heights riot — a deadly, days-long affair that brought to the surface long-standing tension between the area's black and Jewish populations — had played out a few miles away from the 48th District. The episode had gripped all of New York and had been national news. It was just days after order had been restored that Weiner's campaign distributed its anonymous leaflets, which linked Cohen — whose voters he was targeting in particular — to Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins, who was then New York's mayor. It is hard to imagine two more-hated political figures in the 48th District at that moment. . . . The leaflets urged voters to 'just say no' to the 'Jackson-Dinkins agenda' that Cohen supposedly represented. At City Hall, Dinkins held up the flier and branded it 'hateful.'
"It's impossible to say what precise effect this all had on the election, but it clearly didn't hurt Weiner. In a surprise result, he finished in first place — 125 votes ahead of Garson, and 195 ahead of Cohen. Only after the ballots were counted did he admit that he'd been behind the leaflets, claiming that 'We didn't want the source to be confused with the message.' This prompted an editorial rebuke from the New York Times, which noted that 'Mr. Weiner's hit-and-run tactics tarnish his come-from-behind campaign.' "
In Detroit, "Mayor Dave Bing plans to tap former TV news anchor Emery King for communications work following a former aide's whistle-blower lawsuit that claims Bing's current communications chief has turned the mayor's office into a den of chaos, according to city sources," the Detroit Free Press reported on Friday.
". . . King, who owns a production company called Kingberry Productions, is the communications director for the Detroit Medical Center.
". . . King has an extensive background in TV news and production.
"He worked as a White House correspondent for NBC before going to WDIV-TV (Channel 4) in Detroit, where he worked as an anchor and political correspondent. During his days in front of the camera, King was regarded as a serious, seasoned journalist with little flash and dazzle.
"When WDIV decided not to renew King's contract in 2005 after 19 years with the station, there was a swell of community outcry.
"King went on to produce documentaries and specials, including a series that examined race relations in metro Detroit."
"The man who gunned down journalist Chauncey Bailey and a second man in 2007 knows forgiveness is too much to ask, but he wants his victims' families to know he is sorry for the pain he caused," Thomas Peele reported Thursday for the Chauncey Bailey Project.
" 'I don't expect them to forgive me,' Devaughndre Broussard said Thursday. 'But I hope they hear me.
" 'It was morally wrong,' Broussard, 23, said in the interview at North County Jail in Oakland, where he has been held in isolation for nearly four years after his arrest for shooting Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, on Aug. 2, 2007, and Odell Roberson, a 31-year-old homeless man, on July 8, 2007.
"When he killed his victims, Broussard said, he didn't think of them as people and 'didn't contemplate the pain and grief' their deaths would create for survivors.
"Broussard confessed to killing both men, and said it was on the order of his then-religious mentor, Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV. Based largely on Broussard's testimony, Bey IV and another bakery member, Antoine Mackey, were convicted June 9 of multiple first-degree murder charges."
- Editorial, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Justice Written in Ink (June 18)
- Doug MacEachern, Arizona Republic: Reporters type 'justice served' as epitaph in journalist killing
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