Entries by Pablo Manriquez

Pablo Manriquez

Bilingual Is Why A Strong NAHJ Is So Important For American Journalism

By Pablo Manriquez, Apr 7, 2012 11:57 PM

Last year the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) faced a budget crisis, moved out of the National Press Club offices in Washington, D.C., and watched the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) leave the Unity Conference over conflicting interests in the conference's structure. By all accounts, the NAHJ seemed doomed to follow innumerable professional advocacy organizations down the Great Recession's toilet. I did not renew my membership.

Now, NAHJ President Michele Salcedo (Associated Press) reports, "NAHJ ended 2011 strongly in the black for the first time in three years following a number of painful but necessary austerity measures. According to our final financial numbers, NAHJ finished 2011 with revenues of more than $111,000 over expenses, leaving us with more than $104,000 in investments at the end of December." I swell with ethnic pride.

Salcedo's results are remarkable, and her presidency the finest since I've been a member. I joined NAHJ in 2009 at the National Press Club, paying an intern named Pablo my membership dues in what looked like the chaos of a political campaign's command center. When NAHJ moves back to the Press Club, and I have every faith in Salcedo and the Board to win this comeback tour, I think the office rented should be tidy, and be well-crafted with powerful interior design, that it may relay the thriving American success stories of Hispanic careers in media that it creates and accelerates.

Why is a strong NAHJ so important for America? While I find no data to prove that NAHJ members are overwhelmingly more likely than any other professional advocacy organization for media professionals to be bilingual in English & Spanish, I'd bet pounds to pesos that we are. In Washington, we read Washington Hispanic and watch Telemundo and Univision. The Spanish-language press in Washington covers immigration with immigrant zeal, and amplifies the our gruesome policy negligence on the issue Southward.

However, politicos on Capitol Hill can ignore Univision and Telemundo much easier than they can any major news network broadcasting Washington politics in English. Outside of Washington, as America knows, politicos on Capitol Hill can ignore everything failing to donate to their reelection campaigns. Immigration advocacy organizations fail to bribe our Congress with enough to take seriously obvious legislation like the Dream Act, which like all immigration reform is disproportionally critical to the American future of Latinos.

Spanish is an essential skill to responsibly cover immigration in the United States, whether on Capitol Hill or out in the field. Eighty-one out of every 100 undocumented immigrants and 97 out of every 100 deportees is a Latino. I'm guessing Kirk Semple of the New York Times is not a Latino. On 27 July 2010, the Times published "Illegal Immigrants Caught on a Yacht, in a Web of Maritime Laws", a story about Ralph Lauren fashion designer Gaea Rich's boyfriend, an undocumented immigrant discovered on Ms. Rich's yacht during a routine Coast Guard inspection off Long Island Sound. Rich reports in the 2nd paragraph of his story that "two passengers -- a Guatemalan caterer hired for the day and Ms. Rich's boyfriend, David Quinn, an Irishman who had worked for years as a horse-carriage driver in Central Park" were detained and faced deportation. That's all we hear of the Guatemalan caterer, who disappears, never to be mentioned again, in final 24 paragraphs of Rich's story about the Irishman.

Does Kirk Semple speak Spanish? Was a Latino editor at the New York Times involved at all in the newspaper's immigration coverage? Does a bilingual edit immigration coverage at the New York TImes today? I hope so. If not, it would behoove The New York Times Company to immediately call Michele Salcedo and find the right hire, that the crimes of Guatemalans and all Latinos be absorbed on an equa-lingual playing field in our nation's journalism.

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