Board Member: Society of Professional Journalists

Rafael Olmeda

“We are biased. The truth is biased against lies. And our job is to tell the truth.”

Goals and Strategies (this page is a work in progress from a successful campaign to a touchstone for accountability).

My name is Rafael Olmeda. I have been a journalist for 27 years, and for much of that time I have been an advocate for change in how the news business covers, recruits and hires in communities of color. In Sept. 2020, members of the Society of Professional Journalists elected me to serve as an advocate for the principles that make our profession a vital one in a functioning democracy.

I believe the values that drive the push for diversity are a logical extension of the core values of journalism: to get the story, to get it right, to expose injustice, and above all, to get to the whole truth.

Too often, we have allowed journalism’s self-appointed and self-serving critics to define our profession for the public. Nearly half of this country routinely disbelieves anything the news media have to say, whether it’s about politics, public health, the economy or even the weather. This is no accident. It is the intended result of a sustained attack on our credibility, an attack that has served a partisan purpose for more than 50 years. And it’s working because we have been too concerned with the appearance of balance and impartiality to fight back. We’re afraid they’ll call us “biased.”

Well, we are biased. The truth is biased against lies. And our job is to tell the truth.

I intend to help elevate SPJ’s role as an advocate to the general public for media that accurately reflect and accurately cover all communities, with “all” being as inclusive as the word is supposed to be. I intend to foster more active relations between SPJ and other associations representing journalists of color. And I intend to aggressively defend our profession’s reputation against dishonest critics whose only goal is to misinform the public for partisan gain.

My background

Senior writer, South Florida Sun Sentinel
(1999 – Present)
General assignment, crime, courts, breaking news, Black communities, LGBTQ issues, and education. Served three years as an assistant city editor. Worked on the team that won the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for coverage of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Reporter, New York Daily News
(1993-1999)
General assignment, public housing, crime, religious communities. Winner of numerous service awards for coverage that aided in the capture of over 40 fugitives in my hometown of the Bronx.

National Association of Hispanic Journalists
(2000-2008)
Served as at-large officer, regional director (southeast U.S.), vice president/print and president from 2006-2008. Simultaneously served as secretary of UNITY: Journalists of Color in 2007 and 2008, then as president of UNITY in 2009. Commissioned a study on the coverage of Latinos by news magazines in 2006. Lobbied Congress on behalf of net neutrality and in opposition to excessive media consolidation. Defended members against public vilification and wrongful termination.

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