Earlier this afternoon on New York’s WBAI (audio at the end of this post), Hugo Balta, former President of the National Hispanic Association of Journalists (NAHJ), and Carlie Ericksen, one of NAHJ’s original founding members, discussed the controversy from last weekend’s NAHJ convention in San Antonio, where Ericksen said an NAHJ award given to Fox News Latino was “kind of a farce.” According to reporters who were at the event, this is what happened:
The celebratory tone of the closing gala of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention was punctured briefly Saturday night when 84-year-old co-founder Charles Ericksen called it “kind of a farce” for the association to honor Fox News and other media companies when the number of employed Hispanic journalists had declined in recent years.
Hugo Balta, outgoing NAHJ president, apologized to Francisco Cortés, who in October of 2010 launched FoxNewsLatino.com and accepted an NAHJ Media Award on behalf of Fox News Latino.
“I want to personally apologize to you, Fox and the Fox family for what is . . . unacceptable,” Balta said from the stage. “I will not allow any of our guests to be singled out or be insulted in this way. Fox News Latino deserves this award. Frank Cortés was the first Latino to be named VP at Fox. Fox is the reason why we’re here,” Balta said, apparently referring to the participation of Fox News Channel and Fox News Latino as convention sponsors.
The celebration of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ 30th anniversary was brought to a sobering pause last week when Hispanic Link News Service publisher Charlie Ericksen voiced his dissatisfaction with the progress mainstream media have made in diversifying the staffs of their newsrooms.
The story added the following:
During the convention’s final event – the Gala and Awards banquet – the association recognized news organizations that had “increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in cable news,” including CNN, PBS, Buzzfeed and Fox News.
Ericksen, 84, a founding member of NAHJ, was given a chance to speak when he was recognized for his lifetime of work in newsroom diversity.
He told the gathering that celebrating increased visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in the media by honoring a network such as Fox News was a “kind of a farce.” He also said that despite the organization’s 30 years of work on increasing newsroom diversity the number of Latinos in mainstream newsrooms has actually declined.
This afternoon, Balta and Ericksen talked about the incident on the radio. In summary, Balta’s position was that NAHJ needed to be more inclusive, especially since outlets like FOX News do employ Latinos and NAHJ members who work for FOX or its affiliates were at the event when Ericksen made his comments. Ericksen brought up the fact that this is all about how to ethically receive money, and how NAHJ’s awards are now honoring news organizations and not individuals who work in those organizations. In addition, Ericksen did say that he does not watch FOX News or read Fox News Latino—a point Balta emphasized in the discussion. Balta said that Fox News Latino has become a successful digital outlet for Latinos, while Ericksen countered that such an award will make FOX News think that it is doing a good job with the Latino community.
Here is the entire 33-minute segment.