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Posts Tagged ‘reporter’

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.


Forbes Under-30 Media List: No Latinos, No Blacks, and No Native Americans

The issue about diversity is burning up the web right now, because journalists of color are upset with the latest Forbes Under-30 Media List.  Not one person is Latino, African American or Native American.  There are a few Asian Americans.

Forbes unveiled its list stating:

“These are the people who aren’t waiting to reinvent the world. FORBES, leaning on the wisdom of its readers and the greatest minds in business, presents the 30 disrupters under 30, in each of 12 fields, making a difference right now.”

Robert Hernandez made me aware of the issue when he posted on Facebook  “Apparently Forbes does not know any Black or Latino journos under 30….let’s introduce them to some.  Please tweet them some names.”

Hernandez is assistant professor at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.  He’s also a current board member with the Online News Association and past board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Soon after Hernandez put out that call on Twitter; journalists started tweeting suggestions to Forbes.   Alexandra Talty, a spokeswoman with Forbes talked to Richard Prince who blogs about journalists of color for The Maynard Institute.  Talty told  Journal-isms:

“While there are over fifty people of color on our other 30 Under 30 lists, diversity in media remains a national issue, which this list reflects.”


Forbes asked its readers to nominate candidates for the list.  The staff also submitted names. I just can’t believe that when they laid out the photos and bios of the top 30—no one said “wait a minute, what’s missing here?”

I’m wondering who were the judges. Was it a diverse group that included Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans?


An effort has to be made to make everyone feel “included.”  That’s the bottomline.  Today no magazine, newspaper, online news site or television station can afford to lose readers and viewers.  Not when we have so much news at our fingertips.

If  journalists of color are upset that Forbes did  not include one African American, Latino or Native American on its media  list; don’t you think they will let others know?

On a broader look, if people of color do not feel included in a story; they will stop buying your newspaper or magazine or they’ll change the television channel. Forbes thought this golden list of people under 30 was going to be a wonderful way to end 2011, but for journalists of color—it was a slap in the face.


My suggestion to Forbes; DIVERSIFY in all areas.   Your spokeswoman said “diversity in media remains a national issue.”  There you have it!  Do a story on the lack of diversity in the media and start with your magazine.  Take an inside look.

Learn what Forbes is learning today from bad press: Diversity matters!

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy Award winning reporter with 30 years in the business. She’s a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the SPJ Fort Worth Chapter.


Journalism in Belize: Different practices, different standards

Between seeing friends and family, snorkeling, going to the Belize Zoo, and various other activities, I have been watching and reading the news in Belize.IMG_5317

One of the big stories right now is a controversy about comments made by the Minister of Foregin Affairs, Wildred “Sedi” Elrington.  As far as I can make out, Mr. Elrington — speaking about the on-going Belize-Guatemala dispute — called the border between these two countries “artificial.”  He says he was using the terms in the diplomatic/geo-political sense.  The leading opposition party and some media observers are calling Mr. Elrington a traitor, saying he is advocating for a dissolution of the border between the countries.  This strikes fear in the hearts of most Belizeans, who are very aware that Guatemala claims Belize as its own territory.

Yesterday on the morning show, “Open Your Eyes”  (which airs on Channel 5), Mr. Elrington explained his position, conceding the term he used (artificial border) was probably misleading, since most Belizeans are not familiar with the meaning he had in mind.  He defended his bona fides as a staunch opponent of giving an inch on the Guatemala question.

It struck me that the show’s hosts gave the minister wide latitude to expound and expand.  He used the opportunity to criticize a leading newspaper for failing to seek “his side of the story,” an explanation or context.  Furthermore, he praised both Channel 5 and rival Channel 7 news operations for giving him the chance to comment.

There is something to be said for giving newsmakers enough time to fill in the gaps.  But it’s a fine line between that and allowing the newsmaker to run away with the interview.  Co-hosts William Neal and Marleni Cuellar did a pretty good job to keep things balanced.

Another big story is the tossing of a grenade on the Belize City street recently, which killed a teenage boy.  On Monday a suspect was arraigned and, taking a stroll downtown, my cousin and I watched as local media gathered outside Magistrate’s Court for the “perp walk.” There is something very comforting about see journalists in action, no matter where in the world they may be!  The family of the accused was outside the court too, along with various gawkers.

Coverage about this story has included, “He didn’t do it” and “It’s a police  frame-up job,” from relatives members of the community. One of the most interesting stories last night asked the question: “How did a grenade get onto the streets?” The reporter asked pointed questions of the Commander of the British Army Training Support Unit in Belize (BATSUB), who admitted that somehow 25 grenades disappeared from BATSUB facilities.  That means someone out there has quite a few grenades to lob in the future.

Good stuff.  The coverage, not the grenades.

Here are a few more media items about Belize:

* Channel 5 launched a brand new studio for its newscasts and other programming this week.  Channel 5 is a technological and journalistic pioneer in Belize, having aired the first independent (non-government) television newscast in the country, back in 1991. Channel 5 also recently re-launched its web site, allowing for easier perusal and sharing.

* I was reminded that local television news airs at 6:30 pm on both Belize City stations.  They record and re-air their shows at 10:00 pm.  Morning shows are also re-aired later in the day.

* There’s a new radio station to add to the list in my previous blog, MORE-FM.  It’s run by Rene Villanueva who also owns other media outlets.  Mr. Villanueva was a Radio Belize stalwart back in the day and I worked as intern for him one summer when I was in Belize.  Also added to list of media in Belize: PlusTV, KREM-TV, and LOVE-TV.

* Belize does not have a daily newspaper.  At least two, The Guardian and The Belize Times are tied to political parties (see photo below). Newspapers come out on a weekly or twice weekly basis, although the web now allows more frequent news updates.  At least two television stations offer streaming video (not live) as well as verbatim text of their newscasts.  They do not rework the content as many US stations and networks do for online versions of their stories.


That’s all for now.

Blogging from Belize

On Sunday I depart for Belize, so my two weeks as writer for this blog will be coming to you from the tropics.  It’s the only English-speaking nation on the Central American mainland and gained independence from Great Britain in 1981.


So why I am going to Belize? Well, I was born there and have lots of family and friends who still live there.  I plan to do plenty of the cool stuff you can do in Belize, including visiting a Maya ruin I have not yet seen, hanging out on the beach, and — I hope — cave tubing.  But, there will be some journalism involved as well.  I will be meeting with two faculty members at theUniversity of the West Indies branch in Belize City, with an eye to returning later in the year to run a journalism seminar over two or three days.

Not only is Belize the definition of diversity in terms of its people, the local media scene is rich and varied and vigorous.  For a country with a population of around 300,000 there are plenty of opinions and voices on air, online, and in print.


Based in Belize City are the following outlets:


The Belize Times

The Reporter

The Guardian

Channel 5 (News 5)

Channel 7 (Channel 7 News)




In the districts one can find:

EstereoAmor (Radio)


Fiesta FM

Ambergris Today

San Pedro Daily

San Pedro Sun

Toledo Howler

Placencia Breeze

The Star

And these are just the ones I know of!  Radio is especially vibrant, with news, local culture, music, and talk shows that hit hard at politicians and business big wigs. Before independence there was just one station called “Radio Belize,” which was run by the government. It used to air everything from news and music, to death announcements (radio and TV stations still do this), and messages to and from lost or missing persons from concerned family and friends. Several Belizean newspapers today are associated with one political party or another.  The Reporter (which my mother Zee Edgell founded in the 1960s) and Amandala tend to be the most independent, but bias is apparent at times.


In short, Belize’s media scene — like its democracy — is messy, imperfect, well-intentioned, and — as I’ve mentioned — diverse. There is no code of ethics for Belizean journalists to follow, at least none that I know of.  Recently, both TV news outlets in Belize City showed the dead bodies of an adult and an infant on the air.  When I commented about this on Facebook, I got more than a dozen comments from Belizeans — journalists and non-journalists — criticizing the stations.  Information in the same story can diverge wildly from outlet to outlet, from name spellings and ages to the actual facts.  Opinion and bias are rampant in Belizean newspaper stories; I’m talking about fact pieces here, not columns or editorials. Newspapers also print press releases verbatim.  These are just a few of the issues that I’ve run across as I follow Belizean news coverage from here in the USA.

So, I ask myself:  What, if anything, I can I contribute?  I don’t think it’s up to me to “fix” or change Belizean journalism.  So, I did a little survey last year about what journalists there might like to see in a journalism seminar or conference.  Respondents variously characterized the Belize media as amatuer, intensely competitive, fair and balanced, and biased. They described journalists as self-taught, amateur, and dedicated to their profession.  One-hundred percent of the respondents said they would like to see continuing education for journalists (there are no formal university journalism curricula).  More than sixty percent wanted to see a strong professional organization for journalists and a code of ethics.  The top subject areas that interested the journalists? Investigative techniques, interviewing techniques, media management, the laws of Belize on open records, and multimedia basics.


The thing that resonated with me the most was that more than ninety percent of the respondent said they love their profession and can’t see themselves doing anything else.

So, this seminar that I may do later this year could turn out to be part skills-based, part conversation about what Belizean journalism is all about and what it can be in the future.

Stay tuned.



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