This afternoon Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), posted the following statement on his public Facebook page in response to accusations from Hector Barajas, a Latino GOP strategist that hE was kicked off an NAHJ Latino vote panel this weekend, because California’s Speaker of the Assembly John A Pérez, a Democrat, did not want Barajas on the panel.
Here is what Balta posted:
This type of communication would normally not be delivered via social media first (NAHJ issues statements via its website www.nahj.org). The pressing issue and fact that NAHJ leadership and staff are traveling after the Excellence In Journalism (EIJ13) conference forces me to use this platform.
I acknowledge and take responsibility for Mr. Hector Barajas trepidation and that of Mr. John Perez with respect to some of the decisions made by NAHJ organizers of the Latino Vote session. As president I am ultimately responsible for all the actions of NAHJ members and staff (in the planning and execution of such programs).
The Latino Vote session’s intent as described in the program book was to have “Elected Latino politicians discuss the coverage of this voting group (Latinos) in the 2012 elections and beyond…” I strongly believe that regardless of the behind the scenes turmoil the end result was faithful to the session’s vision.
Still, I recognize that despite NAHJ organizers’ best intentions, an uncomfortable situation was created that affected panel guests. For that I am sincerely sorry and pledge that NAHJ will do better in organizing similar sessions moving forward.