Archive for the ‘Latinx issues’ Category


University pays high honor to Pulitzer-winning journalist George Ramos

I didn’t expect to need a tissue but I did. The moment I saw the display I got emotional. It was beautiful. There was George Ramos’ life encased in glass.

Ramos

George Ramos (Courtesy Doug Swanson)

There was a photo of George smiling when he was a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and it smiled through the display. It’s appropriate outside the Mustang News newsroom. News was George’s love and he shared his passion with students. I met him when I was a student years ago. I was inspired by his success, tenacity, and roots from East Los Angeles. Dedicating this hallway to him was befitting.

Longtime friend and Cal Poly alumna Nina Zacuto knew George when they were students in the Journalism Department and worked together on the school paper. She says he really embraced his culture, and loved sports. During his time at Cal Poly, he was Editor-in-Chief, of then, Mustang Daily.

ramos-old

“He wanted to give his community a voice, and then there was the sports. Sports just never went away. His vacations were going from city to city to watch baseball games,” Zacuto said.

George Ramos was part of a team of more than a dozen Latino journalists in 1983, chronicling the life and culture of Latinos in Southern California for the Los Angeles Times. It was a 27-part series. He would also be part of Pulitzer Prize winning teams covering the Los Angeles riots, and the Northridge earthquake.

Earlier in his career, while reporting for the San Diego Union Tribune, George went to Mexico and crossed the border with a group of migrants being smuggled into the country. “I remember him showing up at my house in Los Angeles wearing old baggy clothes and telling a chilling first person account of the experience,” recounts Zacuto.

In the display case, mementos were carefully selected to represent his life, including the Pulitzers, George’s tape recorder, a notepad; and anyone who knew George would understand the humor behind a green shovel labeled “Keeper of the Bull.”

ramos-pulitzer

Dozens of alumni, staff members, students, and friends were there in the hallway for the special dedication in memory of George, who died in 2011 from diabetes complications.

“George was not only tough, but a fabulous reporter, he was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He was a professor. He was our department chair, but he was a wonderful, wonderful man,” said Tracy Jackson Campbell, former Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Journalism Department Advisory Committee Chairman.

The tribute to George was prompted after his death, when journalist Elizabeth Aguilera inquired about money that had been collected when George died. Cecilia Alvear, former President of NAHJ who knew George through his Latino news organizations, contacted the school and soon thereafter, George’s friends, Cecilia Alvear, George Lewis and Nina Zacuto were on campus selecting items from his office for this special honor. It was decided that the funds would go into a scholarship fund that George had established at Cal Poly to promote diversity.

ramos-display

During the hallway ceremony, the most recent George Ramos Scholarship recipient, Mustang News Editor in Chief Celina Oseguera wanted to share her pride in this award.

“I feel very happy to carry that legacy of diversity,” said the student from Stockton, California, “The fact that someone of my heritage was able to be at this position of power, so early on, just makes me very inspired.”

But the tribute to George Ramos did not end there. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo also inducted George into its very first Cal Poly Student Press Hall of Fame, along with three other recipients. This event culminated with its 100-year anniversary of delivering the news.

A video explaining George’s impact and even showing an interview with him was played during the anniversary celebration.  On the video, George reflected on his life.

ramos-hof

“Then is always now. You always remember your roots. Remember who you are, where you’ve come from, what motivated you, the sacrifices your parents and grandparents made for you. I made sacrifices too for the next generation of reporters. that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m the way I am,” George said on video as waves from Morro Bay rolled in the background.

Accepting the award on his behalf, Los Angeles Times Digital Editor, Brian De Los Santos, who is also a board member for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. George was a founding member of NAHJ, as well as the California Chicano News Media Association. De Los Santos, proudly pointed out that he, just like George, is part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team from the L.A. Times that won an award for its San Bernardino terrorist attack coverage.

De Los Santos said he read some of George’s news stories.

“It made me feel passionate about journalism. It made me feel like I had a face in journalism. Whether I knew George or not, he still impacted my life,” De Los Santos said.

To remember and honor George, donate to the George Ramos Scholarship for Journalism Excellence Endowment.

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Orlando: As we report on another crisis, let’s remember our ethics, our humanity and our health

I tossed and turned all night. Maybe it was that latte macchiato I ordered that was out of character at night for me, but on two hours of sleep, I just got out of bed early Sunday morning to deal with the restlessness. And like many journalists I reached for the phone that charged overnight.

My mouth dropped!

It happened again. Another mass shooting, but this was different. The number was so high. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around that number: 50. Could that be right? I had to turn on my TV, and I was paralyzed in front of that screen all morning long.

I know this has become commonplace for our nation, but it shouldn’t, and this was the worst.

My experience with a mass shooting doesn’t compare in scope, but in 1999, only months after the Columbine shooting in Colorado, a gunman entered a church in Fort Worth, Texas and took the lives of seven people, then killed himself. I covered that story for days on end, as a radio reporter. I was even filing reports for the BBC.

Honoring the shooting victims from September 1999 in Fort Worth, TX (Sandra Gonzalez)

Honoring the shooting victims from September 1999 in Fort Worth, TX
(Sandra Gonzalez)

17 years later, feels like yesterday, as I see reporters reflect their thoughts, now on social media.

I am proud of so many of my colleagues for their compassion, humanity and professionalism as they are thrust into this chaos.

Hate is hate, whether it is directed at religion, or at sexual orientation. Now so many lives are lost, and a city is devastated. Our nation is devastated.

In fact, I’m devastated. Not only do I belong to the Society of the Professional Journalists, I am a member of the National Association Hispanic Journalists. NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina released news that one of our members, Jonathan Camuy, was one of the many victims killed in the shooting spree inside the Pulse nightclub. Our organization mourns his death.

NAHJ Mourns Loss of One of its Own

It has been a rough to hear the stories, see the tears, and it hits home to me. It was ‘Latin night’ at the club. Many of these young murder victims were Latinos. Their names and faces have been grouped together on internet, scrolled down on the television screen, and my heart has just stopped while seeing the names, hearing the names, and seeing their faces.

As journalists, we will meet the families, the friends, and we will tell incredible stories, and cover so many angles from heroism, to funerals, to gun control, to terrorism, and the list will grow.

Let’s remember our ethics, our humanity, and our health as we throw our lives into another major crisis.

Here are some things to consider while covering the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando:
-Covering the LGBT community: an open letter from NLGJA, the Association of LGBT Journalists.

Tips for Journalists Covering Trauma by Kristen Hare

The Diversity Style Guide from the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism

Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez is a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and President of the SPJ Las Vegas Chapter.

Sandra has been reporter for 26 years, currently based in Las Vegas, NV
@SandraGonzalez2  sandragonzalezthereporter@gmail.com

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Four ways to build a diverse panel, and why it matters

If you’ve ever walked into a room and been “the only one,” whether it involved race, gender or another factor, you know the feeling of exclusion that lack of representation creates.

The recent Online News Association conference in Atlanta featured a panel on “Disrupt Diversity,” which focused on journalism strategies to find sources outside comfort zones.

The panelists included one white male, Steve Buttry of Digital First Media, one black woman, Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and one white woman, Jessica Valenti, columnist for The Nation. This is an example of a diverse panel whose speakers can offer a variety of perspectives. In fact, ONA made a particular effort this year to recruit a mix of panelists, with half of them women and 30 percent people of color.

Too many times panels and presentations feature people who come from similar backgrounds and have similar points of view. In fact, Rebecca Rosen wrote about this earlier this year in The Atlantic, calling on men who find themselves on all-male panels to refuse to serve. She was writing about technology and science, but journalism also is applicable.

Newsrooms continue to lack diversity, as shown by the American Society of News Editors’ annual census. Only 12.37 percent of newsroom staffs are non-white and only one-third of employees are female.

Finding people who represent a range of viewpoints is a helpful rule not only for journalism practice, but also for presentations. Whether we consider race, gender, disability, or any other difference, we must think about who is representing our organizations. Excluding part of the audience not only defies ethical principles, but it also is not good for business.

The excuses “we can’t find qualified minorities” and “we can’t find qualified women” often mean that people are not searching outside their own social and work circles.

Here are some ways to find a variety of speakers and sources:

  1. SPJ’s own Rainbow Diversity Sourcebook: http://www.spj.org/divsourcebook.asp
  2. The Women’s Media Center’s She Source: http://www.shesource.org/
  3. The CIIJ at San Francisco State University features links to several diverse journalism organizations: http://www.ciij.org/resources
  4. Many universities, including journalism schools, list professors and their areas of expertise on their websites, such as this one from Columbia Journalism School: http://www.journalism.columbia.edu/page/532-faculty-experts/

Please add your own links to diverse sources of information as comments to this post.

 

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Hispanic Heritage Month: The Evolution and Celebration

Celebrations have been underway all weekend as Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off officially from September 15th through October 15.

Dancers during parade in Las Vegas.

Dancers during parade in Las Vegas.

The month pays tribute to the contributions Hispanics make and have made to the United States.  It also celebrates the different cultures and history brought to the U.S. from the ancestors of those from more than two dozen Spanish speaking countries.

The beginning of the celebration falls during a commemoration of Independence Day for several Latin American countries including Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico.

As a reporter, I learned that this was initially just considered a designated week by federal lawmakers until the late 1980’s. That’s when it was changed into an entire month.

And a journalist was right there when it was transformed but Robert Lopez was not a reporter at the time. The current reporter for the Los Angeles Times recalls being a college student and congressional intern helping with the process of getting H.R. 3182 passed.

“It’s amazing to see it 25 years later,” Lopez says, “Nobody knew what would happen. We just wanted it to pass.”

Young charros with lassos

Young charros with lassoes

A quarter of a century later, it has grown very large across the United States. While there may be many events in your communities worthy of covering, during the initial week, this is a month long celebration. There is much territory that can be covered than just the “planned” events.

Lopez suggests using Latinos as sources, not just as subjects. He also says when writing stories about the community make sure there is a balanced perspective. There are many different countries or origins with complexities that cannot be lumped into together because of a common language.

While the Census estimates Hispanics are approximately 53 million, they are likely your readers, viewers and listeners as well. As the generations pass, many speak English and a growing number do not even know Spanish but hold tight to to their cultures and traditions.

If you’re not already consistently covering Hispanics in your news coverage, here is a good opportunity to expand over the next few weeks. There are stories everywhere from small businesses, unsung heroes, cultural traditions from the arts to food, and Hispanics are impacting the country economically.

Who knows how they could impact your newspaper or station?

Sandra Gonzalez is SPJ Diversity Committee Chair, Las Vegas SPJ Chapter Secretary,  NAHJ member, and reporter for KSNV-TV Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Ruben Salazar: Champion of Hispanic civil rights

A national journalism conference in Anaheim, Calif., last month provided an opportunity to learn about the Civil Rights Movement from the Hispanic perspective after a week of reminders of the famous Martin Luther King Jr. “dream” speech.

The Excellence in Journalism 2013 conference was sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, of which I am a past national president; Radio Television Digital News Association; and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

A preview was shown of “Latino Americans,” promoted as the first major documentary series for TV to chronicle the history and experiences of Latinos in the U.S. It will air on PBS on Sept. 17.  Among those discussing the documentary afterward was Juan Gonzalez, author of a book, “News For All The People,” New York Daily News columnist and co-host of a syndicated TV and radio show, “Democracy Now!”

I met Gonzalez later at a book signing and mentioned I was the last editor of the El Paso Herald-Post in Texas in the mid-‘90s. During my time there, I became very interested in immigration issues since the community was 75 percent Hispanic and borders Juarez, Mexico.

Courtesy Special Collections UCLA/From Book Ruben Salazar/Border Correspondent

Courtesy Special Collections UCLA/From Book Ruben Salazar/Border Correspondent

Gonzalez took his book and pointed me to what he had written about Ruben Salazar, who began his reporting career with the Herald-Post in the 1950s and then moved on to the Los Angeles Times. He later went to KMEX, a Los Angeles Spanish-language TV station.

Sadly, he was killed at age 42 during a Vietnam War protest by young Chicanos. More than 25,000 participants converged in Laguna Park in east Los Angeles and a riot ensued after a minor disturbance led police to arrest a keynote speaker, Gonzalez writes. Salazar was killed by a sheriff’s deputy in a bar following the riot where he and a camera crew had gone for refuge. The circumstances surrounding his death remain in dispute.

Salazar was killed on Aug. 29, 1970, which was 43 years ago. At the time, he was the most influential Latino journalist of his era.

On the recent 50th anniversary of the speech by King at the Washington Mall, throngs gathered on that spot to hear President Barack Obama pay tribute.

Not nearly as many remembered Salazar, but Raul A. Reyes, a columnist for USA Today, did.

“Salazar deserves to be remembered for his crusade against social injustice, and because he devoted his life to empowering his community,” Reyes wrote.

Salazar’s legacy includes the formation of the California Chicano News Media Association, which led to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor in 2008.

(Courtesy of Knoxville Sentinel/previously published)

“Latinos Americans” premieres on PBS September 17th on PBS at 8pm Eastern.

Georgiana Vines is retired News Sentinel associate editor, and member of the SPJ Diversity Committee.

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Tips to Expand Your Source Network and Develop Great Story Ideas

I’ve lived in Knoxville, Tenn., essentially since 1968 and know a lot of people through my work at the News Sentinel. But earlier this month there was a story on four people recognized in the inaugural Latino Awards by Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, and I had only heard of one of them.

Lourdes 001

Lourdes Garza
(Photo:Diocese of Knoxville)

I was introduced to both Hispanic/Latino and border issues when I lived in El Paso, Texas, from 1996 to 1997 and served as editor of the El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso is predominantly Hispanic and Catholic.

In addition, I take to heart the SPJ Code of Ethics, which addresses the need for journalists to report on all aspects of the community and particularly to “tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.” I review the code once in awhile and always introduce it to students when teaching journalism at the University of Tennessee.

It turns out some of the Knoxville honorees are involved in multiple issues affecting the Hispanic community here, offering a route to interesting stories and contacts. I suspect this would be the case for similar award-winners in any community.

One of the Knoxville recipients was attached to the Catholic Diocese. Lourdes Garza, director of Hispanic Ministries of the Diocese of Knoxville, received the Spirit of Inspiration award for helping Hispanic community members integrate into parish life activities.

I had heard Garza’s name, but I didn’t know the other winners: Jose Luis Santiago, De Ann Pendry, and Santiago Cuccarese.

Jose Luis Santiago

Jose Luis Santiago
(Photo: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Santiago received the Spirit of Transformation award for his work with Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville in helping others solve problems in various aspects of their lives. It turns out he also has become active in opposing Knox County’s possible adoption of the controversial 287(h) federal immigration program, in which local and state law enforcement agencies collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Pendry, the only non-Latino to receive an award, received the Espiritu Latino award for working with the Hispanic immigration-rights movement. She teaches courses in Latino studies, migration and trans-nationalism and similar areas at UT.

Cuccarese received the Spirit of Innovation award for his work with MiBanco and with the Bank of Camden, where he serves as vice president. MiBanco is a Latino-centered bank and actively supports the Hispanic community and its businesses. Cucarese is also active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee.

Santiago Cuccarese

Santiago Cuccarese
(Photo: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Here are some tips to finding similar people in your own communities:

  • The Catholic Church. It’s heavily involved in Hispanic/Latino issues. A starting point for gathering information might be the U.S. Conferences of Catholic Bishops. The organization has a wide network.
  • The Chamber of Commerce. Most communities have a chamber and in all likelihood someone there is familiar with Hispanic businesses or if a Hispanic Chamber has been formed. There’s a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Look over its list of corporate sponsors, including banks. Chances are your local contacts at banks can put you in touch with other individuals and businesses.
  • Universities. There are oodles of resources at institutions of higher learning. In one of my public affairs classes, I needed to know for editing purposes the possession of Muñoz. The AP stylebook didn’t address it. I called a friend who teaches Spanish at UT and she gave me the answer: Muñoz’s. Professors of political science, sociology, religion, business – the gamut – can be resources.

With a little bit of exploration, expanding your sources is easy.

Georgiana Vines is retired associate editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel and an active member of the SPJ Diversity Committee. 

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Historic Journalism Conference With Addition of NAHJ

This is going to be one mega-journalism conference! It’s nothing new for journalism organizations to join together for one big convention, but this year history is being made with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists joining forces with the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. NAHJ has never joined forces with SPJ and RTDNA before, for a mega-conference but this year they are all part of the Excellence in Journalism Conference in Anaheim, California.

Journalists learning investigative techniques at NAHJ Conference

Financially speaking, this is a dream come true for me. I am a long time member of NAHJ, but a newer member of SPJ and devoted to both. Since I’m on a budget and in a new job where it’s also not easy to get time off to attend both, this year I get to be at both, all under the same roof along with about 1,400 other journalists. Even better, a journalism conference being held in Orange County, where I was raised and went to college.

As SPJ’s Diversity Chairman, I’m really impressed because three major journalism organizations will be together where diversity can’t be missed, and journalists will be able to see what an important role it plays in our communities and in our coverage.

Learning lighting at NAHJ Conference 2011

 

While I will be spending time with the 2013 SPJ Diversity Fellows, I can’t help but think what a great opportunity this conference will offer them. They’ll be networking with great journalists from all over the country in all kinds of positions whether it’s in management, news-gathering, or independent freelancing; and be absorbing diversity and journalism before their eyes.

“It’s my hope that during this event there will be an interest on SPJ from NAHJ members, and other Latino journalists that are also in SPJ, will see the benefit of such a partnership and the importance of diversity of its own organizations relevant for future growth,” said NAHJ President Hugo Balta.

Members from RTDNA, SPJ, and NAHJ will be intermingled and able to attend sessions and workshops, and still hold their individual award banquets and events.

“We’re just looking forward to what we think is going to be a really successful event,” said RTDNA Chairman Vincent Duffy.

Linda Ellerbee speaking to crowds at Excellence In Journalism/New Orleans 2011

 

“I think that it’s excellent that we’re having this in the western part of the country because the Hispanic population is so significant there,” Duffy said, “Bringing NAHJ in to participate in the creation of the program and at the creation of events, it sort of keeps the diversity issue front and center throughout the whole planning process and I think it will just add to the convention.”

NAHJ is dedicated to the recognition and the professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry, as well as fostering and promoting fair treatment of Hispanics by the media.

RTDNA serves the electronic news profession and is dedicated to setting standards for news gathering and reporting. SPJ promotes the free flow of information and works to protect the guarantees of freedom of speech and press. These two organizations have been working together in recent years to bring the Excellence in Journalism Conference to their memberships.

SPJ President Sonny Albarado is very supportive of this year’s addition of NAHJ to EIJ.

“Mentoring SPJ Diversity Leadership participants reconnected me to my own Hispanic roots and strengthened my commitment to improve the diversity of SPJ’s membership and leadership pool. It seems a natural evolution, then, for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to partner with SPJ and RTDNA at EIJ13 in Anaheim,” Albarado said.

The workshops and sessions are well planned and are tailored for all career levels which is very important to NAHJ President Hugo Balta.

“…training newsroom leaders, behind the camera. decision makers, journalists who are in charge of molding the content, and I think that will help us in expanding the breadth of our programming,” Balta said.

All three organizations are not only looking forward to this new venture but perhaps what the future holds.

The Excellence in Journalism Conference is August 24-26 in Anaheim, CA.

Sandra Gonzalez is SPJ Diversity Committee Chair, Las Vegas SPJ Chapter Secretary, NAHJ member and reporter for KSNV-TV Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Journalists visit UNLV: say embrace our own diversity

(Guest Blog by Pashtana Usufzy/UNLV SPJ President)

As president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Society of Professional Journalists, I find myself in charge of planning quite a few events. When the time came to hold our first member meeting of the spring semester, I desperately needed ideas. While clicking on every link on the SPJ website, I ran across a copy of the organization’s mission.

Hoping for ideas, I read through it.

We’d held a meeting on service a few weeks earlier, and a First Amendment discussion seemed a little intense for the first meeting. (“Here’s your pizza and soda. Now, quick, which freedoms are guaranteed by the First Amendment?) I kept scrolling down — “foster excellence … inspire successive generations … encourage diversity in journalism.”

Diversity — now that I could work with.

The topic stood out. UNLV has consistently been ranked as one of the most diverse college campuses in the country. We have students from every walk of life. We represent numerous countries, religions, ethnicities — different genders and sexual orientations. It made sense for our chapter to ask: Where’s the diversity in the local journalism field? What role does that play in the politics of the newsroom, and is our news as inclusive as it should be?

Our board members went to work. We began planning and advertising a discussion on the diversity of our community and our local news market. I invited Antonio Planas of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Chris Saldaña, a local broadcast news personality, to be our speakers.

On the day of, I was nervous. Our meeting didn’t have a huge turnout; I blamed myself for picking a Friday morning meeting date and expecting college kids to be awake. The members who were there, however, wanted to get the meeting going, and our speakers said the students deserved their attention.

We didn’t draw in a classroom full of students, but our speakers made such a tremendous impact upon the students who did attend.

Planas and Saldaña played off of each other so well. They discussed their own experiences as Hispanic journalists covering the news. They talked about missteps by reporters in covering our city’s diverse population, and they told us to embrace our own diversity and bring it to our reporting.

UNLV's SPJ Chapter had broadcast news journalist Chris Saldaña and reporter Antonio Planas visit to discuss diversity in the news.

UNLV’s SPJ Chapter had broadcast news journalist Chris Saldaña and reporter Antonio Planas visit to discuss diversity in the news.

They described efforts to make colleagues aware of potentially offensive characterizations of minorities, but they also described how important it is for all groups to participate in the discussion on diversity.

They asked each student: Who are you, and what kind of diversity do you bring to the table?

I’ll admit it: I sometimes have a hard time speaking up in a newsroom full of much more experienced writers. Saldaña and Planas assured me that my opinion could help shed light on an overlooked group. It’s better to speak up, they said, than to be embarrassed by an inaccurate story or have your news organization appear out of touch.

They emphasized that we as journalists must examine the diversity of our environment, especially in a state with such an increasingly diverse population.

As student SPJ leaders, we try to bring the lessons SPJ emphasizes to the attention of our campus. We want members to get a taste of the professional world, but we also hope they’ll discover a bit of the kind of journalist they’d like to be. Our speakers that day helped us accomplish our goal.

Our attendees stayed afterward to discuss how they felt about the panel. Our small group of students could now raise questions, share its views with others.

Most importantly, the discussion could keep going, and that meant more to us than anything.

(Pashtana Usufzy/UNLV SPJ President organized this event earlier this Spring)

 

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SPJ Diversity pleased with AP decision on “illegal immigrant” term usage

The SPJ Diversity Committee is pleased with The Associated Press’ decision to change the use of the term “illegal immigrant.”

However, the Diversity Committee has been behind the issue of dropping the term “illegal” for the past few years, spearheaded by former committee member Leo Laurence. And it was in New Orleans at the Excellence in Journalism Conference 2011 when I witnessed former Diversity Fellow and Vice Chairwoman Rebecca Aguilar address the SPJ board about her mother, who came to the United States from Mexico, and the pain it caused when she saw the term “illegal alien” used in the newspaper.

Rebecca Aguilar addresses SPJ Board about using term "illegal alien". Photo by Sandra Gonzalez

Rebecca Aguilar addresses SPJ Board about using term “illegal alien”.
Photo by Sandra Gonzalez

After hearing Aguilar’s impassioned speech, the voting convention delegates passed this resolution on voice vote:

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics urges all journalists to be “honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information” and;

WHEREAS, mainstream news reports are increasingly using the politically charged phrase “illegal immigrant” and the more offensive and bureaucratic “illegal alien” to describe undocumented immigrants, particularly Latinos and;

WHEREAS, a fundamental principle embedded in our U.S. Constitution is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law and;

WHEREAS, this constitutional doctrine, often described as “innocent-until-proven-guilty,” applies not just to U.S. Citizens but to everyone in the United States and;

WHEREAS, only the court system, not reporters and editors, can decide when a person has committed an “illegal” act and;

WHEREAS, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is also concerned with the increasing use of pejorative and potentially inaccurate terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists convention of delegates: urges journalists and style guide editors to stop the use of illegal alien and encourage continuous discussion and re-evaluation of the use of illegal immigrant in news stories.

Prior to this, it had been rejected by the Resolutions Committee.

The AP is now changing how it will describe people as journalists report stories involving the current immigration issue. According to Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, here is what is behind the decision:

The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

“Journalists and others can argue that the new style recommendation is less precise than ‘illegal alien’ or ‘illegal immigrant,’ but it’s important to note that a significant portion of country’s population regards those terms as offensive.  It wasn’t that long ago that keepers of journalism style, including The AP, fought dropping ‘Negro’ as a term for black or African-American people,” says SPJ President Sonny Albarado.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists also says these terms can be dehumanizing  and demeaning.

“AP is right to note that the English language evolves and that our everyday usage contributes to that evolution. I hope journalists and others continue this conversation about immigration and people who come here legally or illegally until we arrive at terminology most of us can agree on,” Albarado says.

We on the SPJ Diversity Committee agree and hope journalists will eliminate these types of terms from their copy as immigration is a huge issue we will be reporting on this year.

Sandra Gonzalez
SPJ Diversity Committee Chairman
KSNV Reporter
Las Vegas

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NBC Shows Diversity Tactic in NBC Latino Launch, Hispanic Brigade

 

I’m glad I was watching Natalie Morales  fill in for Brian Williams last night on NBC Nightly News.  Otherwise, I would have missed news of the launch of NBC Latino.com, a English-language news information and lifestyle Website featuring Hispanic’s perspectives.

“I’ll be a regular contributor along with many of my colleagues,” Morales said as she announced the debut of the site, which is touted as “The New Voice of American Hispanics.”

The announcement appeared in last night’s Nightly News broadcast right after a report on the election of Pena Nieto as Mexico’s new president.

It speaks to the marketing synergy of NBC Universal to cross-promote its media platforms.   The perennial top-rated network evening newscast showcased the nation’s newest spot on the World Wide Web for news about Hispanics, which will be powered by content from Telemundo, which it also also owned along with MSBNC, CNBC and The Weather Channel.

NBC News’ Hispanic Brigade?

NBC Correspondents Gabe Gutierrez, Miguel Almaguer, and Tom Llamas along with Today Show news reader Natalie Morales were all mentioned by name in the news release Monday on the launch of NBC Latino. (Photos: Courtesy NBC News)

 

Beyond the announcement of the NBC Latino launch, what was even more interesting was how the network also used the opportunity to showcase its stable of Hispanic reporters and the Hispanic editor who will be leading the site.

Chris Pena

““The goal of NBC Latino is to take Hispanic news beyond the usual conversation, toward something more inspired, empowered and energized; to tell and reflect the Hispanic-American story with authentic voices, and make NBC the brand of choice for Hispanics across mobile, online and TV,” said Chris Pena, the executive editor,who is leading a staff of bilingual writers and producers.
As a newsroom manager, Pena has come up through the NBC ranks starting out running Telemundo’s news operation in Houston before moving to the company’s Miami’s station, WTVJ and then Chicago’s WMAQ before moving to the network’s New York headquarters last summer.

Some might suggest NBC Universal grew its own in Pena’s success leading to his role at the helm of NBC Latino.

Mainstreaming Miguel

Even as NBC Latino launches, the network has proven that it can place Hispanic reporters on the frontlines covering the day’s top stories, especially when they bring a resume of journalism awards to the table.

While they may contribute to a target website like NBC Latino, these same reporters are already front-and-center on other NBC platforms too.  All too often targeted web sites will be used to grow “second-string”  talent.  That is not the case here.

Miguel Almaguer reported from Colorado Springs on Monday's broadcast.

 

A great example of that was shown last night as Miguel Almaguer, the award-winning  Burbank-based correspondent, presented updates from Colorado Springs where wildfires have claimed dozens of homes.

Almaguer brought lots of experience doing that kind of coverage as he has won awards for similar stories produced during wildfires in San Diego.

Another media company, Gannett, pioneered the diversity principle of mainstreaming  or ensuring news sources of color are used all types of stories.  The same is true for reporters who are assigned to cover all stories, not just those with a focus on race or diversity.

Almaguer has been the lead talent on coverage of the wildfires and did a similar job in reporting on the death of Rodney King last month.

Building on The GRIO’s Success

Along with mainstreaming, NBC Universal has long ago realized the importance of targeting content.     Most recently, the launch in June 2008 of TheGRIO.com as “the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African-Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.”

Beyond the online community, TheGRIO.com offered its GRIO 100 during Black History Month, vignettes on up-and-coming African American leaders in all walks of life.   For at least the past three years, we’ve seen that list of African Americans the site says  “still have work to do.”

Will we see a “Latino 100” or similar set of reports to air during Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month this September?

As the cliche goes, “only time will tell.”

For now NBC’s multi-pronged effort at targeting and mainstreaming stories and storytellers from diverse racial backgrounds reflects a sophisticated strategy its broadcast , cable and online competitors would do well to imitate.

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism and former chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee.  He currently serves as a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors.

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