Posts Tagged ‘NAHJ’
06 Sep

UPDATE: Hartford Courant scraps Google Translate site

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Richard Prince‘s Journal-isms reports that Hartford Courant has killed it’s embarrassing Google Translate site. If you recall, I wrote about the horrible site last month.

Instead the Courant has developed Noticias, “a 100-percent Spanish language news site produced by our newsroom,” said Gary Weitman, spokesman for the parent Tribune Co.

Glad they came to their sense. And I sincerely wish them luck in their new venture.

17 Aug

My response to The Hartford Courant’s “Spanish-language strategy” with Google Translate

Como una cortesía para The Courant, por demostrando ignorancia y falta de respeto a su propia comunidad, déjeme decir: lo cagaron.

If you were to translate this using Google Translate, guess what… it would be wrong. Anyone who is bilingual wouldn’t be surprised. But they would be surprised in hearing that a news organization would solely depend on using this primitive service as their “Spanish-language strategy.”

Sadly, this isn’t a joke: Hartford Courant’s Spanish site is Google Translate by Poynter

But, instead of just being disgusted or insulted by The Courant’s “strategy,” let me offer some tips for an actual strategy:

1. Hire a diverse staff, and in this case, a Spanish speaker. Listen to them. Anyone in their right mind would have told you this was a bad idea.

2. I know resources are tight, as an affordable alternative to hiring more staff, partner up with the local Spanish-language news organizations. Believe me, they are there. And they’d love to help you inform the community. (Hey Courant, have to tried working with Connecticut’s Latino News Source:

3. No Spanish-language news organization in your town? Look again. Think radio, newsletters or neighboring towns. Any of these will be better than an automated site.

4. Still confused? Reach out to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to find local members in your area, including Spanish-language news organizations.

5. But, let’s say there are no Spanish-language news outlets. Partner up with the largest, Spanish-language local business. They know their community and are fully aware of the information network that is functioning now.

Lastly, apologize to the fastest growing demographic in your community for treating them with such little respect. It’s not a smart business move to belittle them, especially if you want to tap into their growing influence.

I preach experimentation, risk taking and embracing failure. You experimented and took a risk… and you failed. Oh, did you fail.

Learn from your big mistake and start genuinely engaging with your own diverse community.

Do you have any tips for The Courant or any other news organization trying to serve its Latino community? Please share them in the comments.


Oh, and if you are wondering, here’s how I’d translate my statement:

As a courtesy to The Courant, for displaying its ignorance and lack of respect to its own community, let me say: you fucked up.

23 Jun

Sign up for the Unity 2012 journalism conference!

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Friend and colleague Mekahlo Medina, who is the NAHJ Unity board representative and who is also running to be on the NAHJ national board of directors, has created a series of promotional videos to get people excited about this summer’s journalism conference in Vegas.

I’m Unity’s co-program chair (along with AP‘s Paul Cheung, who is running to be AAJA‘s next president), and one of our goals was to truly take advantage of the conference’s diversity and have a fully integrated and progressive convention.

Here’s a video Medina produced after a quick interview with me yesterday:

Unity 2012 Las Vegas Robert Hernandez from Mekahlo Medina on Vimeo.

In case you don’t know, the Unity conference brings the Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalism Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalism Association together for a MEGA convention that happens only every four years.

Clearly I am biased, but take my word for it… this will truly be a progressive, diverse conference. Cheung and I did a BlogTalk radio discussing why you should attend UNITY12.

For the lastest Unity 2012 news, make sure you check out the conference Tumblr:

19 Jan

Crowdsourcing ‘web journalism rockstars of color’

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review:

For this week’s blog post, I chatted (through e-mail) with up-and-coming journalist Emma Carew, the driving force behind a new Web journalist of Color spreadsheet.

Recently, there seems to be an ongoing conversation about diversity in our newsrooms (especially Web newsrooms) again. One of the results from that conversation is the spreadsheet you created. Can you describe this project and how it came about?

Following Retha Hill‘s post on MediaShift IdeaLab about diversity at recent ONA and Newsfoo conferences, I was excited to weigh in during the Twitter chat on #mediadiversity. People mentioned hearing, “we can’t find any qualified minorities,” for speaker presentations and conferences. I was shocked to hear this, because I could have easily listed a dozen or more journalists of color doing amazing things with journalism and the web — these are people I look up to, who have mentored me. We all left the chat on Twitter promising to take action and spread the good word. A few days went by and when no list to promote these fine folks appeared, I knew it was something that I could initiate. By reaching out to my network, we were able to assemble about 75 names, all top-notch journalists of color working with journalism and the web. Anyone looking to put together panels of amazing journalists looking to share their story, no longer has an excuse for putting together an all-white, all-male conference.

How have the names been selected? What has been the process? Is there a general criteria for who makes this list?

About eight contributors are continuing to cultivate the list, which is open for public viewing. Anyone can nominate themselves or others by contacting one of the authors. Our loose criteria have been these: journalists of color, doing great work in web journalism, and who would have something interesting to share on a panel. The goal is to identify as many web journalism rockstars of color as possible.

NOTE: Full-disclosure, I am one of the eight that curates the list and am also hosting the spreadsheet on my server. Others include Sharon Chan, Michelle Johnson, Doug Mitchell, Juana Summers and Benet Wilson.

What is your vision, your goal for this project? What would you like to see happen here?

My hope would be to see better representation of journalists of color, both as attendees and speakers, at journalism conferences such as the UNITY organizations, SPJ, ONA and IRE. The leadership of these associations have a great opportunity to widen their circles. I’d love to see the project embraced and promoted by the national journalism leaders. Diversity shouldn’t only be a priority for the UNITY groups.

Diversity is more than ethnicity. Is there any thought to expanding the spreadsheet to include gay/lesbian, women or other communities that are under represented in our newsrooms?

I definitely agree, and we are certainly open to representing diversity of all types. In the current setup, there are eight authors who are collaborating to keep the list organized and “vet” the names when we come across an unfamiliar name. We currently have representation of some kind from all four UNITY organizations. If there are leaders (official or unofficial) from NLGJA or other journalism associations who would like to get involved, please contact us.

So what has been the reaction to your project so far?

I think it’s been well received in the smaller UNITY org circles. The list is growing slowly and each of the authors has continued to reach out to leadership in our respective associations. It’s an important time for the list to be circulating and continue the conversation with summer journalism conventions coming up.

What have you learned from the project?

Working on this project has been a great reminder of a few things. First, being that it’s not enough to idly sit by and try to tweet the the change you want to see. At some level, you have to just take a leap and try. This project has also been a good reminder of the importance of good mentors. This project would not have gotten off the ground as neatly or quickly had it not been for some excellent guiding hands

Tell me a little about your journalism background. I hear you recently took a new job.

I got my start in journalism at a high school program called the Urban Journalism Workshop, now called ThreeSixty Journalism. During college, I interned at the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, the Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education, mostly focusing on business, education and data journalism. I spent six months working for the Chronicle of Philanthropy working on data projects, especially on how to best present them online. Next week I will be joining the team as a home page producer.

The struggle for journalism diversity has gone for years, decades even. How have you personally benefited by those who have worked hard for diversity?

The program I got my first start has its roots with the Twin Cities Black Journalists association (our local NABJ chapter). From the start, I was surrounded by talented journalists of color who had an interest in my success. Being a member of AAJA for six years has filled in the gaps of all the things they forget to teach you in J school: networking, mentorships, how to be a great intern, and how to fight for the things you believe in. I’m grateful to those who have blazed the trail before me, and I’m excited to continue in their path. There’s still a lot of work to be done around diversity in the media.

When I can, I like ending my interviews with journalists with the same question … In an environment of furloughs, layoffs and budget cuts… where we work more with less … in these ‘tough times,’ where we are in constant evolution … Why are you a journalist?

Unfortunately as a first-year reporter, these times are the only ones I have ever known firsthand. I remain an optimist, especially the more I move toward digital and multiplatform work. I firmly believe in the need for excellent journalism in our communities, for it’s role as a watchdog and the art of our storytelling. I became a journalist because it was the only career I have ever considered. I remain a journalist because I know our work is far from done.

Thank you so much Emma. You should be really proud of the work you’ve done, especially this project.

Robert thanks so much for all your work on this. It’s been a great experience and I hope to see its success play out.

07 Jan

Digital + Diversity: What does your newsroom reflect?

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review:

If you ask a Web journalist what the newest, important tool a news organization needs to embrace today, they’d probably say Social Media. They’re right, it’s not a fad.

If you were to ask them to make a prediction or guess where the future of technology is headed, chances are they’d say mobile. Smart phones are getting smarter, smaller and cheaper. (And, one day Verizon will carry the iPhone – I believe!)

If you were to ask me what one element newsrooms need to embrace, outside of technology, my answer is a simple one: diversity. Can we make that a New Year’s resolution?

I’m not talking about being politically correct. I’m talking about having diverse experiences and points of views that shape and literally define what is news.

I believe that the lack of diversity – gender, age, religion, sexual-orientation, socioeconomic background, politics, bus riders, cyclists, video game addicts, etc. as well as ethnicity – in our newsrooms in all roles, especially leadership ones, is one of the main causes of lower circulation and loss of general reader/viewer engagement.

Again, I’m not talking about being politically correct. I’m just saying if we are not made of all our communities, how are we expected to relate and be relevant to all those communities?

Let me give you an example:
One of my early Web specials I did in my career was the 20th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic. I was representing as I sat around the table with print reporters and editors. You have to understand, the San Francisco Chronicle was crucial in the news coverage twenty years before with the incredible work by Randy Shilts.

These people were professionals and I was still the relatively new kid working with that new medium.

But as they spoke, I noticed that all the stories were about gay, white males. No one talked about that the fastest growing HIV/AIDS demographic was straight, black females.

They were the pros. I was just a punk kid.

Staying quiet is one of my biggest regrets in my career. I swore no matter how awkward or uncomfortable, I had to always speak up.

That chair I was sitting in wasn’t just for me. It was for all the communities I was a part of… and all the others that I wasn’t, but weren’t at the table. I have to rep everyone. You know, that voiceless thing.

Here’s another example:
Do you remember when someone tried to reinstate the draft back in 2003? I was sitting at the morning news meeting as the draft talks began to heat up and we started brainstorming on how to cover the story.

In a room of incredibly talented and experienced journalists, the angles included talking to teachers, parents, Vietnam vets, recruiters … but I was shocked that well into the discussion I had to raise my hand and mention, how about talking to high schoolers?

The room forgot to include the demographic that was going to be most affected by the draft.

But the lack of diversity in newsrooms isn’t new. Women have been battling the glass ceiling for decades and studies, like the one from ASNE, have shown a depressing lack of ethic diversity for years.

So, why am I bringing it up?

Let me give you another example:
In a recent PEW study, it found that African-Americans and Latinos “are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white internet users.”

In several not-so-recent studies, they found that Latinos are ahead of the curve in embracing mobile devices and its behavior. They are more likely to text message, download music, play games and access social networking.

Yet, how come there isn’t a reflection of that diversity in those Web journalism jobs? While there is a lack of diversity in newsrooms, why is there even more so on the Web side?

The digital divide? Sure, but not the one you are thinking. Those studies show “minorities” are on the advanced side of the divide and others are behind.

Diversity, and the possible lack there of, was raised as a concern after the recent invitation-only Newsfoo submit.

At last year’s SXSWi panel about the future of news it was all white men.

Look, I’m not saying that your ethnicity or gender or whatever is a requirement to do a better job for any of these tasks.

What I am saying is that if we don’t reflect our communities – both on- and off-line – we’re doomed. If we don’t listen to others outside of our own, individual communities we’ve missed the point of journalism.

This isn’t about hiring “us” over “them” … this is about how all off us strengthen journalism by reflecting our diverse communities through relevant coverage … and that the coverage is shaped by those that make up the newsroom.

That’s the premise of hyperlocal journalism, isn’t it? That a local or insider would know what is more relevant to their community rather than an outsider.

So, why can’t we overcome this challenge? It’s 2011.

PBS’ MediaShift recently held a Twitter chat on media diversity.

Thankfully, it’s on people’s minds again.

I routinely get asked for names of diverse candidates to apply for Web journo jobs… but here’s the thing, while I know plenty of reporters, editors photographers, etc., my network of diverse Web journos isn’t as strong as it should.

Y’all, I’m a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, board member of Online News Association, been to nearly every alphabet soup of conferences and I’m still struggling to diversify my Web journo network.

So what do we do about it? We need more solutions outside of forming another damn diversity committee.

The fact is, these diverse communities are already on the advance side of the tech divide… but they are not on the journalism side. Perhaps they aren’t aware of a journalism career as an option? Perhaps they don’t see themselves in our coverage? Perhaps they feel like there is no place at the table for them to help shape news?

Whatever it is, we need to do something. And I need some help in figuring this out.

In addition to being on the ONA board, I’m overseeing the all day workshops at the next conference, I’m co-program chair for UNITY 2012, I’m the New Media track coordinator for the NAHJ annual conference and I run #wjchat, a weekly Web journalism chat.

If we don’t invest in recruiting and training members of diverse groups to help us do and advanced journalism … we are royally screwed.

My New Year’s resolution is to harness my access and network to improve diversity across the board for Web journalism. But I need your help. I need your ideas.

More importantly, in your newsrooms, your communities (and those you are not a part of) need your help. Reach out, connect, participate, preach and downright fight to ensure your news org’s journalism reflects the diverse community it covers. Help it stay relevant.

29 Sep

I did not do this alone

Next week, I have the honor and privilege to speak to some journalism students at Cal State University, Northridge. They’ve asked me to talk about Web journalism and my career.

NOTE: This is where the journalism stops in this post.

I have to get this out… I don’t know if it’s inappropriate… or TMI… or too whatever… but here goes.

In my life and in my career, I’ve been incredibly blessed. When I stop and think about my roots, my parents, my support network… and where I currently am… a professor… a professor at USC, such a prestigious institution… it is… amazing.

But I did not do this alone.

I get reminders of that all the time… one hit me the first time I walked into this great campus’ food court. And it hit me again realizing that I am going to speak to students at CSUN.

I’m fighting back tears as I type this.

You see… at one point, my mom worked at a pizza joint on the CSUN campus to get by. I had completely forgotten about it until I was ordering food on campus and was speaking in Spanish to the person taking my order.

In a flash I remembered visiting my mom and talking to her co-workers – Latinos also trying to scrap a living. I remember them being supportive of my education and wishing me the best, as they gave me a free slice of pepperoni.

They, like my mom, were struggling so I wouldn’t have to.

I got back to my office and let the overwhelming emotion flow over me. It was intense… my mom’s hard work put her son on the other side of that counter. Not as a student, but as a professor.

I cried like a baby, y’all.

I grew up a few blocks from CSUN. My parents are perfect examples of the American Dream… the good and the bad.

My dad has been running an auto repair shop for more than 30 years. (Y’all, give him your business because like every small business, he needs your support.)

There were times in my life where we had money… lots of it. And there were times in my life where we had none… a whole lot of nada.

But all that struggle… all their sacrifices… put me here. And put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders… one of the many reasons why I got into journalism.

Man, so many different people have done things for me… some things they could never have imagined would have such impact on me. Organizations like NAHJ, CCNMA, ASNE and others. Some institutions like CIIJ, SFSU, LA Pierce Community College.

I am soooooo blessed.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… this is cheesy. Okay, this is a damn cliché. But it’s my reality, y’all. And one I don’t take lightly… especially when I see my toddler growing. He’s going to know my parents’, mi gentes’ and my struggle to advance him.

Because he too, isn’t going to do it alone.

Um…. personal post over. Hopefully this wasn’t too awkward.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , , ,
11 Jun

Polls open for the NAHJ election; Who I’m voting for

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The National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ (NAHJ) conference is about a week away and among the numerous activities is the Board of Directors election.

I’ve had the privilege to serve on the board for about three years, and, as I look over the candidates, I know the organization is in good hands.

Here are my thoughts on the candidates and endorsements… well, endorsements on some of the races.

:: At-Large Officer, Online

This race is first because it’s the position I am leaving behind.

I’ve had the honor of knowing and working with both the candidates for some time. Each brings a great deal of experiences to the board… but for me there is one clear choice.

Hiram Enriquez is also a model Web journalist. This guy is the real deal, with experiences working with CNN, Yahoo! and now Univision. He’s one of the forces behind the excellent panels and workshops we’ve offered at the convention in recent years.

Patricio Espinoza is the model of a hyperlocal journalist struggling to make it with his several sites, including He has served on the board as the At-Large Officer, Spanish Language.

For me, I have to admit that I have been deeply disappointed with the tone of his campaign. Let’s hope it’s in the past.

Who gets my vote: Hiram Enriquez

Why: He is converged in multiple ways. Bilingual, hard-working, well-connected, seasoned Web journalist. We’re lucky he’s a candidate for our board… I know he is being recruited by others.

:: President

For the presidential race, I’ve known these two amazing journalists for years and think they are fantastic candidates. Let me get this out of the way… I’m undecided on who I endorse.

Hugo Balta has been on the board as long as I have, I believe. A victim of the hostile time in our industry, getting laid off, but someone who won’t give up on journalism or the importance of our organization.

There are some topics, and sometimes approaches, that I don’t necessarily agree with, but this guy’s a fighter… and he’s thoughtful when he speaks. He’s going to fight for you and the organization.

Michele Salcedo is a journalism and NAHJ veteran. She too has gone through layoffs and has stuck it out in this downright volatile time, most recently becoming an editor The Associated Press.

I have to admit, I had a concern based on a comment she made about wanting to change people for access to our tweets. But, we talked about it… like many journo veterans, she is protective of our content and wants to ensure we have a stronger footing then where we are.

She’s served in pretty much every role NAHJ has to offer, so she knows our organization. She’s going to get things done.

Who gets my vote: [UNDECIDED]

Why: They are two great candidates!


:: Vice President, Broadcast

I’ve known both of these candidates for a few years, serving on the Board with Manny this past year. I’ve seen their engagement with the organization and both bring valuable experiences to this position.

Manuel De La Rosa, reporter at KII-TV (Corpus Christi, TX), is a hard worker, USC alum and die-hard L.A. fan. He’s served his region well, most recently organizing a conference there.

Mekahlo Medina, anchor/reporter at KNBC-TV NBC 4 News Raw, to me represents the future of broadcast. He’s on the cutting edge and has shared those skills with our student projects. Did you see the promo he made – unsolicited – for last year’s conference? Awesome.

Who gets my vote: Mekahlo Medina

Why: The student projects have a special place in my heart. I co-ran the online one for six years. I know the passion and commitment it takes. If you do that leadership role, you earn a spot on the board in my book. Plus, like I said, this guy is the future.

:: Vice President, Print

Gustavo Reveles Acosta, board member and reporter at El Paso Times, would get my vote even if he weren’t running unopposed. This guy cares. This guy works hard. This guy is a hilarious and wonderful person. We’re so lucky he has served and will serve on our board.

Who gets my vote: Gustavo “Goose” Reveles Acosta

Why: He’s brilliant! Thank him for his serve when you see him at the convention.

:: Financial Officer

Russell Contreras, reporter for The Associated Press, is also someone who would get my vote even is he weren’t running unopposed. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Russell for years and consider him a friend and Web journalism colleague.

Loved his 80s references in the video he made, but don’t agree with the perceived CCNMA beef he invoked. Those are old wounds we don’t need to reopen.

In these tough financial times, this is perhaps one of the most important positions on the board… and I’m glad someone like Russell is going to take on those responsibilities.

Who gets my vote: Russell Contreras

Why: I’ve admired his work and commitment to the organization for years. Plus, he included Ah-Ha in his video ad.

:: Secretary

Erin Ailworth, staff writer for The Boston Globe, is someone I hope to work closer with in the future. I don’t know her well, but am sure she’ll be a good addition to the board.

Who gets my vote: Erin Ailworth

Why: Erin is on Twitter and listed on

:: At-Large Officer, General

Rebecca Aguilar, a freelancer based in Dallas, is someone I’ve kept my eye on for sometime. She won Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award in 2007. She most recently has dove head first into blogging and multimedia.

J. Israel Balderas, a freelancer in Washington D.C., I don’t know much about. I’m sure he is a solid candidate and will serve the board well.

Who gets my vote: Rebecca Aguilar

Why: To me, she represents my vision of this position… someone who represents so many of our membership. Broadcast, freelance, laid off and experimenting on Web.

:: At-Large Officer, Spanish Language

Ada Alvarez, a freelancer in Washington D.C., is a force. If you have not gotten one of her emails or seen her work, let me tell you she works hard… non-stop… driven by passion. She previously served as the student representative.

Who gets my vote: Ada Alvarez

Why: She’s driven and passionate. I get more emails from her about NAHJ, than NAHJ. I think that’s a good thing.


:: Student Representative

Jose Antonio Acevedo, Universidad De Puerto Rico; Jacqueline Guzman, California State University, Northridge; Alejandra Matos, University of Texas El Paso.

I am note eligible to vote in this race and honestly don’t know the candidates… so, like completing my March Madness bracket, I’ll back someone for some random reason. I have a special place in my heart for CSUN. I grew up about a block away and my mom worked in the food court when I was in college.


:: Proposed bylaw changes

Should the bylaws of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists be amended to upgrade the position of At-Large Officer for New media to Vice President for Online?

My vote: HELLS YES! (Although it should be called Digital or Web instead of New Media)

Should the bylaws of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists be amended to expand the Board of Directors to include an Academic Officer At-Large?

My vote: Yes

Should the bylaws of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists be amended to give the Student Representative on the Board of Directors the right to vote?

My vote: Yes

Whether you agree with my choices or not, please go vote!

Help shape the leadership that will guide NAHJ through these incredibly difficult times. The polls are open up until the end of the convention.

Click here to access Election Logon Screen


Categories: NAHJ Tags: , ,