The celebratory tone of the closing gala of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention was punctured briefly Saturday night when 84-year-old co-founder Charles Ericksen called it “kind of a farce” for the association to honor Fox News and other media companies when the number of employed Hispanic journalists had declined in recent years.
Hugo Balta, outgoing NAHJ president, apologized to Francisco Cortés, who in October of 2010 launched FoxNewsLatino.com and accepted an NAHJ Media Award on behalf of Fox News Latino.
“I want to personally apologize to you, Fox and the Fox family for what is . . . unacceptable,” Balta said from the stage. “I will not allow any of our guests to be singled out or be insulted in this way. Fox News Latino deserves this award. Frank Cortés was the first Latino to be named VP at Fox. Fox is the reason why we’re here,” Balta said, apparently referring to the participation of Fox News Channel and Fox News Latino as convention sponsors.
Ericksen, founder of the Hispanic Link News Service and an honoree himself as an NAHJ Hall of Fame inductee and member of NAHJ’s founding committee, told Journal-isms afterward that Balta was correct in saying that “Fox isn’t the only one. There’s a lot of them that are just as bad. But anyone who says positive things about Fox has cotton in the ears and blinders in the eye.”
Cortes told Journal-isms, “That’s his opinion.” Others told Journal-isms privately that they were glad that Ericksen spoke up.
In a 2012 story on Fox News Latino, David Folkenflik reported for NPR that, “some Hispanic activists and critics on the left say there is a pronounced divide between their treatment on the Fox News Latino website and on Fox News itself, especially on the cable channel’s highly rated opinion shows.“
Folkenflik also wrote, “Fox News Latino doesn’t treat American Hispanics as a monolithic cultural, economic or political force. And that can be credited with some of its early fortune.
“The site started up in late 2010, with a push from Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. Fox News Latino Director Francisco Cortes was rising through the ranks — from an apprenticeship named for Ailes to a senior producer for Fox’s news programming — when he was summoned by his bosses.
” ‘Mr. Ailes himself … wanted to see how to strategize on how to speak to the Latino community,’ Cortes recalls. ‘They wanted to know … how do we go about talking to one of the most influential groups in the U.S.’