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SPJ's Diversity Blog » TV news | A Society of Professional Journalists Blog

Archive for the ‘TV news’ Category

New Toolkit on Reporting on Race to be Released from NAB

The discussion about race and diversity continues across the country — not just about how to increase diversity in newsrooms, but how to cover it as well.

The National Association of Broadcasters is set to release guidelines and recommendations through a toolkit on April 12 in Washington.

Along with the toolkit release, NAB will host a lunchtime conversation about reporting on race. Following the noon lunch at the Knight Conference Center in the Newseum, NAB and the NAB Education Foundation are bringing together news directors, reporters, and journalism educators to talk about personal experiences in the industry as well as recommendations on reporting on race and racially sensitive stories.

“Local radio and television stations have unique relationships with their communities and their reporters are often the first on the scene as racially sensitive stories develop,” NAB says. “Americans continue to rely on their local news broadcasters who are uniquely situated to bring the role race plays in these stories to the forefront.”

The event will be emceed by Bruce Johnson, WUSA9 weeknight anchor in Washington, D.C. The afternoon discussion will include two different parts:

Awareness in Reporting Panel: Lessons Learned From Reporting on the Frontlines — A discussion about guidelines and recommendations by the broadcast industry to cover racially-sensitive stories well.

Conversation with Community Leaders – Chief David Brown and Rev. Kenny Irby — Hear personal experiences from community leaders and how that impacts coverage by journalists.

See the complete agenda here.

RSVP here.

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



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.

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.

Anderson Cooper Admits He’s Gay: Was That Important?

I’m wondering how Anderson Cooper of CNN is feeling today. Now that he has told The Daily Beast that he is gay.  Is it a pressure off his back?  I was a television reporter 27 years, and I’ve always believed in being an open book.

Why? Because I expect it from people I interview. I’m a public figure who has chosen to be on television. I don’t want people to think I have something to hide; if I put out that message, they could hide stuff from me.

I always thought Cooper didn’t admit he was gay, because he was afraid his bosses wouldn’t like it and his viewers wouldn’t be too keen about it either.  And when I kept hearing that he wanted to “keep part of his life private” I thought there is no such thing when you’re on television, especially in TV news.

Thank you Anderson Cooper for just putting it out there in The Daily Beast “The Fact Is, I’m Gay.” He says he came out because he didn’t want people to think he was ashamed or hiding something.  I hate to admit it, but that’s what I thought, that he was hiding something.

Anderson Cooper today is showing the public, especially those afraid to come out; that it’s OK to say proudly “I’m gay.”  He’s also showing others in the news business, that yes, journalists can be gay and fair at the same time.

Is he any different today than he was yesterday? No. Can he still cover gay issues fairly? Of course!  In the end, he’s a journalist; a man trusted for  his honesty and hard work.


Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter based in Dallas, TX.  She’s also the vice chair of SPJ Diversity Committee, a board member with National Association of Hispanic Journalists and SPJ-Fort Worth Chapter.


ABC News Fellowship: Journalists of Diverse Backgrounds Apply Now

abcABC News is starting a fellowship program aimed at preparing up-and-coming journalists for television news.  The news network plans to choose participants from a variety of different  racial, ethnic, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds. Each fellow will work closely with an experienced ABC News mentor.

I have high hopes for this fellowship.  Kudos to ABC News for making an effort to find fellows from diverse backgrounds.

The chosen fellows will be offered:

  • Rotation among several ABC News departments and broadcasts.
  • Development of editorial, news gathering and production skills.
  • Work closely with assigned news mentor at ABC.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood says the network is committed in recruiting, developing, empowering and promoting the industry’s future leaders.  The news network hopes to start this program on July 2, 2012.

What you need to qualify:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Solid writing skills
  • Shooting and video editing experience
  • Minimum two years experience
  • Proficient in Spanish is preferred

Fellows will be employees of ABC News for one year.  For more information: ABC Fellowship.

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter based in Dallas, TX.  She’s a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and SPJ Fort Worth Chapter. She’s also the vice chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee.


TV news needs more diversity

By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.; Member: SPJ National Committee on Diversity and Latino Journalists of California; editor, San Diego News Service. E-mail: leopowerhere@msn.com

While traveling around the country, I’ve noticed that some TV news shows are very heavy with police coverage. The BREAKING NEWS screen usually simply means that the station’s chopper is over yet another high-speed chase on a freeway, or something similar.

If police stories were eliminated from many of the local TV news shows here, a half-hour program might be reduced to about ten minutes.

That could be the result of budget cuts in the newsroom, or to bolster the entertainment value of the news show. Many of the better, scripted, prime-time shows are being replaced with low-budget, reality shows on the networks.

“We see far fewer TV news crews in the barrio now, and that hurts the community’s development,” warns Roberto Araiza, a Latino businessman here who wants to see more minority stories on local TV news shows.

Unfortunately, some minority community leaders believe more reliance on police news in TV hurts the public image of their people. Police operations typically involve racial minorities, and visually dramatic TV news coverage reinforces some stereotypes, they believe.

Having news staff from diverse communities opens up more opportunities and news sources to any newsroom. Reporters and photojournalists who live in the barrio, for example, know what’s going on there and who is making news.

Contact Leo Laurence at leopowerhere@msn.com


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