Archive for the ‘UNITY’ Category


Tension in America

As race relations continue to be strained from the recent attention on Ferguson, Missouri where a police officer shot a young African American man, Michael Brown; or the journey of Central American children rushing to cross the United States border, we as journalists are covering these stories.

Emotions run high when people hear or read the news on these matters of racial strife or immigration. It reminds me of the daunting responsibility we have as journalists to tell these stories, and to always remember the power of our words and images.

It is with great pride to see journalism organizations like SPJ get involved when it becomes a challenge with law enforcement to cover stories such as the Ferguson protests. When events like the unrest in Ferguson erupt, we are out there on the front lines, with our notepads, mics and cameras. It is tough to be in the middle of chaotic incidents, but we are there, trying to get the story for our communities.

Let us stick with these stories, report the aftermath, the healing, and the efforts to solve the chaotic situations. May we learn something and pass these lessons on to others.

As the Excellence in Journalism Conference in Nashville gets underway this week, there are so many opportunities to grow and reflect on the issues before us.

A panel titled “Lessons from Ferguson” will explore the conflicts and challenges journalists faced in Missouri.
We can also learn about the dangers our fellow journalists are facing covering stories in Mexico.
And, the panel ‘Race Coverage: 50 years of change’, will explore how far journalism has come in reporting on race, and how far it still has to go.

Finally, there is also a panel looking at issues of states requiring IDs to vote, and states issuing drivers licenses to undocumented residents.

There is so much happening across our country, and so much to learn as we share these stories with the masses. I’m looking forward to the EIJ conference, because the knowledge we will be able to gain, will only make our news coverage better.

Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez is SPJ Diversity Chair, and a general assignment reporter at KSNV-TV Las Vegas, NV

 

 

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A Look at Unity 2012 in Las Vegas

Unity 2012

Unity 2012

What a historic UNITY Convention it was in Las Vegas! This was my fourth UNITY, but definitely my most memorable. First of all, I have to say I missed my friends from the National Association of Black Journalists. There was electricity in the air at this UNITY 2012, but NABJ’s absence was felt since they parted ways last year.

Opening night was emotional. On stage, UNITY President Joanna Hernandez said to NABJ that UNITY would “welcome you back with open arms.” While NABJ was for the most part invisible, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association was warmly welcomed into the fold. The UNITY family however dropped the extended part of the name “Journalists of Color”.

To kick off UNITY, a plenary of journalists representing each journalism association talked about the challenges of diversity in the media from the past, present, and future of our changing industry. One guest, sports columnist LZ Granderson, both a member of NABJ and NLGJA ended up getting into a heated debate  after the event with NABJ’s President and Vice President. Granderson had told the crowd about being both gay and black that “diversity is more than skin.”

LZ Granderson and NABJ leaders

The public disagreement was just one example of the passion and the pain still stirring after the changes of UNITY following the split of NABJ and addition of NGLJA.

While UNITY has morphed in the past year, social media has changed the flavor of UNITY this time around, “tweeting” in particular. Controversy was the talk of the convention when a student UNITY reporter was told she could not “tweet” at a National Association of Hispanic Journalists board meeting. The incident made big news at the convention, putting NAHJ in the spotlight and a “tweeting” policy that was spoken but not written.

NAHJ had already been experiencing high emotion during a heated election that at times was explosive on social media especially in the presidential race. Elections results were released Friday night at the NAHJ Gala, naming Hugo Balta as the new NAHJ President. Also, SPJ Diversity Committee Vice Chairman Rebecca Aguilar was elected NAHJ Vice President of Online.

New NAHJ President, Hugo Balta

At Balta’s very first board meeting, a motion made by Aguilar to repeal the the “No Tweet” policy was passed in a 6-5 vote.

UNITY has changed as the media industry has changed trying to keep up with the public’s hunger to communicate on the web. One thing hasn’t changed though: the need to keep the pressure on for diversity in those newsrooms. I was glad to see companies were hiring, and I hope the healing process continues within UNITY, and that soon NABJ will return.

Sandra Gonzalez is a freelance digital journalist based in New Orleans, LA.  She’s also a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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