Thursday, November 14, 2019

Largest Latino journalists’ organization drops FOX News as sponsor

The largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States disinvited Fox News from its national conference, taking place in San Antonio next month.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) published a letter written by Hugo Balta, the association’s president, announcing the decision yesterday afternoon. “Today I am announcing the decision to rescind the invitation of Fox News as a sponsor for NAHJ at the upcoming Excellence In Journalism (EIJ19) conference,” said Balta, who is also a senior producer at MSNBC.

The decision was made after Fox News Radio Host, Todd Starnes, used “prejudiced language directed against Latino immigrants as opinionated commentary,” just two weeks after 22 people were killed during a mass shooting in El Paso targeting Mexican-Americans and Mexicans, Balta wrote. In the letter, Balta referenced an instance in which Starnes said that America has “suffered” from the “invasion of a rampaging hoard of illegal aliens” and claimed that most “illegal immigrants” are violent criminals.

Marsheila Hayes, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at Fox News, responded to NAHJ’s letter. “It is unfortunate the country’s main organization for Hispanic journalists has chosen to exclude FOX News from their upcoming convention. As the leading news network in the country, we are committed to fostering a diverse and collaborative workplace environment, and have been recognized in the industry four our advancement in this area, most notably with our multimedia reporter program,” said Hayes in a written statement.

According to Balta, NAHJ asked conference co-partners, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), to also return their respective $16,666 share of the $50,000 sponsorship dollars. Both organizations refused to do so, “opting instead to give Fox News a larger platform to discuss what they label as a ‘teachable moment,'” the letter reads.

“We condemn the unacceptable comments by the Fox contributor, however, as a press freedom organization, we must defend the spirit of free speech inherent in the First Amendment,” said SPJ president J. Alex Tarquinio in a statement. NAHJ said its decision is directed to Fox News management and “in no way towards NAHJ members employed by the media company.”

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