Hugo Balta for NAHJ President

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is going through some tough times. I do not envy the current board for the difficult decisions they have had to make over the last two years, and I will not second-guess them. I applaud President Michele Salcedo and Vice President/Financial Officer Russell Contreras for taking their roles seriously and making tough calls without worrying that their decisions might not be popular.

Contreras is now running for president. If elected, I think he would do a good job and I would offer my support, counsel and assistance without hesitation.

But at this point, I think Hugo Balta would do a better job. He has my endorsement.

Hugo Balta for President of NAHJ

As I’ve looked at this campaign, I’ve seen Contreras point to his record in putting NAHJ back on a sound financial footing. We can bicker over how NAHJ achieved this worthy goal, but Contreras and the board did not have the luxury of just bickering. Their job was to do something about it, and they did.

The key question is, now what? And that’s where I believe that Balta represents the better choice.

I share his concern that we have not chosen a site for the 2013 convention and don’t have a clear idea what will happen.

I share his belief that we need to shift quickly from crisis-management mode to visionary-rebuilding mode.

I share his belief that we need to formally address the changes that have affected our membership. Our bylaws (with its then-appropriate restrictions) were written at a time when the journalism profession was growing and thriving. The contraction of the last decade and the societal changes that have redefined “journalism” compels us to rethink the way we categorize and limit the participation of members, especially those who made a “lifetime” commitment to its mission.

And I share his belief in transparency and responsiveness to members’ concerns and ideas.

Michele Salcedo and Russell Contreras saved NAHJ. But it’s going to take leaders like Hugo Balta to restore it.

Two years ago, when I endorsed Hugo’s opponent (Michele), I privately made it clear to Hugo that I would still do anything he asked of me if he won. I publicly extend the same offer to Russell Contreras. This is not about personalities. It’s about an organization of people we are committed to serve.

In addition to Hugo Balta, I support the return of Rebecca Aguilar to the board as VP/Online and the election of Mekahlo Medina, a relentlessly positive and enthusiastic supporter of our mission, for VP Broadcast.

With respect, I’m keeping my choices in other races to myself. I also do not want any of these endorsements to be construed as criticisms of the opposing candidates. You earned my respect the moment you put your name up for consideration.


Published by Olmeda

At-large director on the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists. Former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and of UNITY: Journalists of Color. An extreme moderate, not committed to political ideology. Stepfather to two wonderful daughters. Father to two wonderful sons. Husband. Rogue karaoke singer. Humanist

5 thoughts on “Hugo Balta for NAHJ President

  1. I love the tone of your endorsement. Thanks for being and staying involved, for being proactive and diplomatic, and for reminding us that NAHJ is much more than any individual or personality. Gracias.


  2. I don’t think you’ve listened enough to Russell’s ideas. Many of the things Hugo has talked about have already been in the works by Russell, such as partnering with another group for conferences and finding ways to modernize NAHJ. There already has been discussion about whether NAHJ needs to rethink membership. There are critics who say Russell and Michele didn’t do this, but it is the kind of criticism that is not considering all that was on the plate of the NAHJ board. I also think that Rebecca Aguilar had her shot at doing work for NAHJ’s online presence. She was on the board two years, even if she wasn’t online representative. It’s time for someone new who will take the bull by the horns, use Russell’s idea of revamping the web site while providing members online training and boost NAHJ’s brand online.


  3. I respect the rights of members to disagree with my assessment and to express that disagreement. I’ve listened carefully to both sides and expressed my belief who offers the better alternative. A reasonable person could disagree with me. I do not concur with the argument that Rebecca had two years to make her mark for two simple reasons. First, the same argument could be made for Russell and applied to other areas [ie, what ARE we doing next year?]. Second, I don’t see the VP Online job as merely one of overseeing NAHJ’s online presence: the job is to represent and offer training to our members, not to be an NAHJ webmaster extraordinaire.
    Don’t take this reply to be critical: I know Russell accomplished a lot and I applaud him for it. No one who has ever held office in NAHJ has “finished the job,” so I don’t mean to insult him by pointing out that some important things have been left undone. I wish Russell the best of luck in what I hope to be a spirited and positive campaign.


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