President’s message: To the volunteers who make a difference, no matter how small

Dear CCNMA members,

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to take a moment to share an appreciation for the many volunteers who have made a difference in the work that we’ve done this year.

Last month, we launched our second annual mentoring program at KABC’s studios in Glendale, and we were fortunate to have almost two dozen professional journalists step forward as mentors.

The mentees, primarily students from CCNMA’s Cal State University Northridge chapter, told me earlier this year that they lacked connections with seasoned journalists who could guide them as they created their résumés, applied for internships and prepared to graduate. When we put the word out at our CCNMA open house this summer, the response from our members was immediate and positive. We quickly reached our space capacity for the event, and had to create a waiting list for those students whom we couldn’t accommodate.

That the mentors were in such high demand was a reminder to me of how essential these professionals will be to these students – some who are the first in their family to go to college – as they navigate through a tough profession.

At KABC, our students received a tour of the studios, heard some heartfelt advice from longtime CCNMA member and KABC reporter Sid Garcia, and then connected one-on-one with their mentors. As I left that night for another appointment, the room was abuzz, filled with conversation, ideas and excitement.

Many thanks to Diane Medina, KABC’s vice president for diversity and community relations, who so warmly hosted us that night and has long supported CCNMA’s diversity initiatives.

Having watched my mentees thrive and succeed with a little advice and encouragement, I can say the mentoring experience has been rewarding and well worth the time I’ve invested.

Last month, CCNMA also hosted its annual Journalism Opportunities Conference, which went smoothly thanks to the hard work of our staff and volunteers. However, I want to highlight the commitment of one our volunteers in particular, Ana Facio-Krajcer, a longtime CCNMA member. You’d likely recognize her face, as Ana has for many years given her time at not just the JOC, but at our annual scholarship banquet as well.

She recently moved to the Washington D.C. area, but didn’t let the distance stop her from volunteering at the JOC once again. It’s because of members such as Ana that CCNMA is able to accomplish so much. That commitment, hard work and dedication are very much in the spirit of what our founders envisioned when they created this organization. It’s about giving a hand to the next generation, and it’s about giving what you can.

I keep a mug with the image of Frank Del Olmo, one of CCNMA’s founders, on my desk near my laptop. The mug is inscribed with a quote from Frank: “My hope has been for a career that will allow me to make a difference in the world, no matter how small.”

As we head into the busy holiday season, let’s remember that our actions, no matter how small, really do make a difference to those around us. For anyone interested in serving as a mentor, please contact the CCNMA office as we would still like to connect the handful of students on the waiting list.

CCNMA has some exciting possibilities percolating as we head into the New Year, which we will share soon with all of you. In the meantime, thank you all for being a part of the CCNMA family and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Yvette Cabrera, president
CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California

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Veteran reporter, first-time teacher introduces the craft to non-journalism students

By Louis Sahagun:

After 34 years as a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, I just finished my first semester of teaching journalism at the college level.

I’m feeling pretty good about my experience and what my seven Antioch University Los Angeles students accomplished in the 1-unit Master of Arts in Urban Sustainability course titled “Introduction to Environmental Journalism.”

The students came up with real-life controversies and issues brewing in their own neighborhoods. Then, just as I do with my editor at  the Los Angeles Times, we discussed how best to investigate and write about them.

Overall, I shared tricks of the trade learned on the job over the past three decades and introduced them to the complex and nuanced relationships between journalists, scientists, regulatory agencies, non-profits, landscapes and the public.

One student investigated a nonprofit dedicated to training a new generation of community activists to improve the quality of life in the Los Angeles housing project known as Ramona Gardens. The nonprofit, she discovered, had plenty of recruits, but little money to implement projects on its wish list.

Another student examined the City of South Pasadena’s efforts to transform itself into an environmentally sustainable oasis on the southern flanks of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Other articles were about the health benefits of hiking the trails of a scenic state park south of downtown Los Angeles; a massive fish die-off in the seaside community of Playa del Rey; a neighborhood campaign to reduce the noise and air pollution resulting from Santa Monica Airport’s aviation activities, and the plight of four lonely “ladies in waiting” — California condors at the Santa Barbara Zoo not yet needed to participate in captive breeding programs across the nation.

Every student who enrolled completed the class offered at the small non-profit private liberal arts school in Culver City.

Their success was especially gratifying to me because after graduation, they will be applying some of the journalistic tools and insights they learned in class at jobs in social services, philanthropic organizations and government agencies across the nation.

Louis Sahagun is a CCNMA board member and staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. Follow him on Twitter @LouisSahagun.

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In photos: CCNMA’s 36th Journalism Opportunities Conference

CCNMA wrapped up its 36th Journalism Opportunities Conference on Friday. Didn’t go? Here’s what you missed.

 You can also get a taste of what happened via JOC panelist and John S. Knight journalism fellow Eric Ortiz’s Evrybit conference story.
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Claudia Núñez: Break routine, take the first step, lose fear

Claudia Núñez assists participants at Mexico Migrahack in April 2014. Claudia Núñez assists participants at Mexico Migrahack in April 2014.

Claudia Núñez was a reporter for La Opinión in Los Angeles when she became a 2012 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University. During her fellowship, she developed what eventually became the Migrahack project, trainings and hackathons about immigration data. Now, she runs Migrahack, which is part of the Institute for Justice & Journalism, and works as Spanish web editor for Human Rights Watch.

Applications are currently open for the JSK fellowship and are due on Dec. 1. In an interview, Claudia offers advice for potential fellowship candidates and how her life has been changed by the experience:

1. Why did you decide to apply for the JSK fellowship?

Routines are a journalist’s worst enemy. They can slowly invade the editorial newsrooms, like a spider web that traps ideas and devours passion. Perhaps those were not the precise words I was thinking, but that sensation invaded my being when I decided to apply for the JSK fellowship.

During that time, I was inspired by two great journalists. When I saw the multimedia and data journalism piece, “Not Just a Number,” a project on homicides in Oakland by Katy Newton (Knight Fellow ‘12), I thought about the possibility of creating an organization that would assist ethnic media journalists in realizing projects of that quality. The big push came after I met Phuong Ly (Knight Fellow ’11) during a conference at UC Berkeley. She gave a presentation about her project, which was similar in idea to mine – it was related to immigration. The energy with which Phuong presented her project gave me the confidence that I needed, to present my proposals.

2. How did you spend your year at Stanford?

I would be lying if I said that I only spent my time there expanding my vision of journalism in technology. The year at Stanford was a mixture of renewing my ties with my family, an opportunity to make new friends, ponder my health, and gain the understanding of the importance of collaboration – something that ultimately was my greatest lesson.

3. How did your project evolve during the year?

The first phase of my project involved my complete immersion into classes of statistics, data journalism, and visualization techniques. At the same time, I took the opportunity to meet and chat with a number of experts regarding my idea. Each and every one of them provided valuable insight and advice that further developed the Migrahack project, training and hackathons on immigration data.

4. What have you done since the fellowship, and what are your future plans?

The fellowship has been a total game changer. Thanks to the relationships that I developed as a result of the fellowship, my project was able to launch. I set a goal to hold a Migrahack in Los Angeles as a pilot.

We had little money, but a lot of volunteers, including several of my fellow Knight Fellows as well as a professor at Stanford and open-data advocates from Los Angeles. Afterward, I continued to collaborate with Phuong Ly, another Knight fellow, who was executive director of the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Migrahack became part of IJJ, and Phuong and I collaborated to improve the project. IJJ was able to bring fundraising resources to make Migrahack a bigger and more effective event. We organized two multi-day hackathons in Chicago and Mexico City and two smaller training events.

Migrahack became a symbol of collaboration journalism, a new way to generate stories based on the power of the diversity of backgrounds. With the help of many of my Knight Fellows (Wilson Liévano, Nuno Vargas, Martyn Williams, Carlos Martinez de la Serna, Cindy Royal, Teresa Bouza) as well as the people who believe in a better journalism (Periodistas de a Pie, Margarita Torres, Patricia Carbajales, David Eads, and many more) we have trained dozens of journalists and nonprofit staffers on the importance of using data and technology.

Through Migrahack, more than 20 interactive projects have been developed and widely distributed on social media as well as in traditional media outlets in the U.S., Mexico and Central America.

In parallel with my Migrahack work, the fellowship has opened the door to participating in numerous conferences throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Europe.

This has all been made possible due to this fabulous year spent at Stanford. New opportunities have presented themselves to me, including becoming part of the leading human rights organization in the world, Human Rights Watch, where I am now the Spanish web editor.

5. What advice do you have for journalists who want to apply for the fellowship?

I would tell them to take that first step. One of the best lessons that Stanford ingrained in my mind was to lose the fear of failure. Previously, the fear of failure and a lack of confidence in my ideas paralyzed me to the point that I couldn’t take the first step. I invite all of my Hispanic colleagues to overcome that first barrier and submit your ideas. It will be an unforgettable experience.

My second piece of advice is to embrace your diverse background. The fellowship certainly does. During my time as a fellow, I felt the support that the fellowship directors provided to journalists from minority groups. They value the array of experiences and perspectives that journalists of color bring to the program. We ethnic media journalists provide a unique vision not just to the program but to other international and national fellows. Our participation is important!

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Diversifying online journalism is the next frontier

BuzzFeed Latino editor Adrian Carrasquillo addresses 2014 NAHJ conference-goers in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Adrian Carrasquillo)

BuzzFeed Latino editor Adrian Carrasquillo addresses 2014 NAHJ conference-goers in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Adrian Carrasquillo)

By Dennis Romero:

The lack of diversity in the online journalism world has often dodged criticism by minority journalism groups focused on traditional broadcast outlets and dead-tree media. But, to be sure, it is a serious issue that has been ignored for far too long.

We should be pleased that BuzzFeed, one of online journalism’s shining stars, has announced to the world that it is making the diversity of its workforce a priority.

The operation noted that its editorial staff is about 10 percent Latino, and it’s clear that this percentage is only going to increase.

BuzzFeed Latino editor Adrian Carrasquillo, who is based in New York, said this was not a flash-in-the-pan move to get some quick hits from America’s growing audience. His employer sees the writing on the wall: Latinos already comprise California’s largest ethnic group, and the United States could be a so-called majority-minority by 2050.

It’s a business decision, Carrasquillo said. Editor Ben Smith said the number of Latinos in BuzzFeed’s younger-leaning audience was huge. His publication needs to speak to its audience, or the effort is futile, he indicated.

At CCNMA, we hope news organizations like Yahoo News, Google News, the Daily Beast, TMZ and even trade publications like the Hollywood Reporter and Variety get the message and follow Buzzfeed’s lead.

It’s time to reflect your community — particularly if your operations are based in California and, more importantly, in Los Angeles, where half of your potential audience is Latino.

Dennis Romero is a CCNMA board member and news writer at LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @dennisjromero.

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