In the last couple of days many members have asked poignant questions of the candidates running for the NAHJ Board.
I think these questions (and the practice) are very important in assisting members in making informed decisions as they vote.
I wanted to share with you my answers in response to NAHJ and its role in advocacy journalism.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has a proud history of speaking out for, on behalf of and support in the fair treatment of Latino journalists in this country (and abroad). NAHJ advocates for the proper representation of Latinos employed in the media, the training and education of its members and engages in debate that promotes the fair and accurate coverage of the Latino community.
As President, one of my main responsibilities will be to lead the Board in ensuring the association is faithful to that mission.
My vision is not only for NAHJ to fight for a just media system, but to lead the discussion towards that end. It is my experience as a manager that too often NAHJ reacts when it should be acting. It isn’t enough for the association to wave its finger at media companies and say “shame on you”. It must nurture relationships with them in order to assist in reaching goals and avoiding questionable practices specific to Latinos.
NAHJ needs to reintroduce itself to media companies who (too often) see it as a Latino journalism watchdog group. The media companies need to see NAHJ as an organization that is willing to help them in meeting their goals (Latino initiatives), present them with ideas to improve the quality of their content (rules and standards) and provide them with candidates (potential employees, experts (as guests)).
NAHJ cannot lead the improvement of the coverage of Latinos or increase the presence and influence of them in newsrooms without establishing relationships with media companies. It is only through those “enlaces” that NAHJ can help develop strategies that can be measured and held accountable for. Right now, sponsorships are the only topics dominating the communication with media companies.
And of course, NAHJ needs to be prepared to engage media companies when their coverage of Latinos and treatment of employees (Latinos) is questionable. It’s not only about denouncing the action (if it warrants), but also using it as a learning tool to help the media company avoid such an action in the future.
I would also like to add that I believe that as an association (and as a journalist) we cannot afford to stay in the sidelines in covering issues that affect the community we serve (and are a part of).
We shouldn't hide under the blanket of objectivity when it comes to reporting on education, human rights, immigration, employment and the countless other social ailments that affect all Latinos (not just foreign born).
It is only by understanding that who we are (ethnicity, gender, age, where we live, etc.) effects our decision making and how we cover stories that we truly achieve fair and accuracy in our reporting (and not just being objective).
We need to partner with groups that will help our members understand the plight of our community and how to best tell their stories, fight for their rights.
Let us not forget that we, as journalists give voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful accountable and empower our community to take action.