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Hispanic Journalism Organization Kicks Reporter Out of its "Open" Board Meeting

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is coming under fire from its own members after a reporter and a videographer were kicked out of an open board meeting during this week’s Unity conference in Las Vegas.

Although this is mainly an internal political squabble, it is ironic considering the lack of transparency within one of the nation’s largest journalism organizations.

But it’s also refreshing to see a young reporter taking a stand against media restriction in what was supposedly an open meeting.

Unfortunately student journalist Nadia Khan stuck to the outdated media convention of writing about herself in the third person to avoid looking like she was, well, writing about herself.

But she didn’t refer to herself in the third person when she sent out several tweets hashmarked #Unity12 after her and videographer Joe Vazquez got kicked out, ensuring that the issue became the talk of the conference on Tuesday.

NAHJ President Michele Salcedo, an Associated Press political editor, came across looking like a dictator when she forbade board member Rebecca Aguilar from talking to Khan after the meeting, saying that only herself and the executive director can speak for the board.

aguilar.jpg

Salcedo also claimed that it’s in the organization’s policies and procedures not to allow reporters to cover its meetings or tweet about it, but it says nothing about that in its bylaws and the meetings have been covered by reporters in the past.

Not surprisingly, the main reason for all the secrecy involves the use of organizational funds.

Despite this obvious lack of transparency, the meeting was open to all NAHJ members. But most members won’t take time out of the convention to attend a boring meeting, unless, of course, they’re covering it.

You would think Salcedo would appreciate a reporter attempting to report on the meeting for the other members.

Here is how Khan explained it in her article:

Khan talks about the incident in the video below.

A UNITY News reporter who had been assigned to live tweet the board’s discussions was asked to stop reporting and to leave the room. The reporter sent out three messages on the social media network before she left and waited outside the meeting room, at the request of her editor.

The incident further enflamed board critics’ existing concerns that the NAHJ leadership has lacked transparency during its two years in power.

Members discussed the UNITY News ejection on Facebook and Twitter, which have frequently hosted past debates about the organization’s future, finances, minutes and elections.

Last year’s controversial board decision to lay off a majority of staff, including Executive Director Ivan Román, upset many members, but Salcedo insisted that tough financial decisions had to be made because of past excess and deficits that ran in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Salcedo said the board’s financial austerity measures led to $339,000 in net income for the organization.

Khan talks about the incident in the video below.

UPDATE: Student journalists at Unity continued following up on this story with Salcedo refusing to talk on camera, ordering them to stop recording her as it was an “unauthorized interview.”

But Manuel de la Rosa, NAHJ V.P. for Broadcast told reporters that lawyers advised them not to allow reporters into the meeting because it could get them sued.

In other words, he was talking out of his ass.

When I posted this story on Facebook last night, Alicia Wagner Calzada, an attorney for the National Press Photographers Association, also one of the largest journalism organizations in the country, stated the following:

National Press Photographers Association’s in person board meetings have always been open and now are typically live- streamed.

De la Rosa said that because NAHJ is a non-profit, that allowing reporters into the meetings would leave them open to liability.

NPPA is also a non-profit but it doesn’t seem to have an issue with live-streaming meetings. NAHJ is classified as a 501c(3) while NPPA is classified as a 501c(6).

So maybe there is something in those differences that allows one organization to live-stream its meetings and not the other?

I didn’t find anything on this link that describes the differences between the two types of non-profits to indicate such a thing.

Also, if it was indeed such a legal issue, then where are NAHJ lawyers to explain this to us?

They probably know better than to stick their foot in their mouths.

In full disclosure, I am a former member of NAHJ and a current member of NPPA.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is coming under fire from its own members after a reporter and a videographer were kicked out of an open board meeting during this week’s Unity conference in Las Vegas.

Although this is mainly an internal political squabble, it is ironic considering the lack of transparency within one of the nation’s largest journalism organizations.

But it’s also refreshing to see a young reporter taking a stand against media restriction in what was supposedly an open meeting.

Unfortunately student journalist Nadia Khan stuck to the outdated media convention of writing about herself in the third person to avoid looking like she was, well, writing about herself.

But she didn’t refer to herself in the third person when she sent out several tweets hashmarked #Unity12 after her and videographer Joe Vazquez got kicked out, ensuring that the issue became the talk of the conference on Tuesday.

NAHJ President Michele Salcedo, an Associated Press political editor, came across looking like a dictator when she forbade board member Rebecca Aguilar from talking to Khan after the meeting, saying that only herself and the executive director can speak for the board.

aguilar.jpg

Salcedo also claimed that it’s in the organization’s policies and procedures not to allow reporters to cover its meetings or tweet about it, but it says nothing about that in its bylaws and the meetings have been covered by reporters in the past.

Not surprisingly, the main reason for all the secrecy involves the use of organizational funds.

Despite this obvious lack of transparency, the meeting was open to all NAHJ members. But most members won’t take time out of the convention to attend a boring meeting, unless, of course, they’re covering it.

You would think Salcedo would appreciate a reporter attempting to report on the meeting for the other members.

Here is how Khan explained it in her article:

Khan talks about the incident in the video below.

A UNITY News reporter who had been assigned to live tweet the board’s discussions was asked to stop reporting and to leave the room. The reporter sent out three messages on the social media network before she left and waited outside the meeting room, at the request of her editor.

The incident further enflamed board critics’ existing concerns that the NAHJ leadership has lacked transparency during its two years in power.

Members discussed the UNITY News ejection on Facebook and Twitter, which have frequently hosted past debates about the organization’s future, finances, minutes and elections.

Last year’s controversial board decision to lay off a majority of staff, including Executive Director Ivan Román, upset many members, but Salcedo insisted that tough financial decisions had to be made because of past excess and deficits that ran in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Salcedo said the board’s financial austerity measures led to $339,000 in net income for the organization.

Khan talks about the incident in the video below.

UPDATE: Student journalists at Unity continued following up on this story with Salcedo refusing to talk on camera, ordering them to stop recording her as it was an “unauthorized interview.”

But Manuel de la Rosa, NAHJ V.P. for Broadcast told reporters that lawyers advised them not to allow reporters into the meeting because it could get them sued.

In other words, he was talking out of his ass.

When I posted this story on Facebook last night, Alicia Wagner Calzada, an attorney for the National Press Photographers Association, also one of the largest journalism organizations in the country, stated the following:

National Press Photographers Association’s in person board meetings have always been open and now are typically live- streamed.

De la Rosa said that because NAHJ is a non-profit, that allowing reporters into the meetings would leave them open to liability.

NPPA is also a non-profit but it doesn’t seem to have an issue with live-streaming meetings. NAHJ is classified as a 501c(3) while NPPA is classified as a 501c(6).

So maybe there is something in those differences that allows one organization to live-stream its meetings and not the other?

I didn’t find anything on this link that describes the differences between the two types of non-profits to indicate such a thing.

Also, if it was indeed such a legal issue, then where are NAHJ lawyers to explain this to us?

They probably know better than to stick their foot in their mouths.

In full disclosure, I am a former member of NAHJ and a current member of NPPA.

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