NAHJ Re-Evaluating Membership in Unity

The group cited the same concerns of NABJ when it pulled out two years ago.

Courtesy of NBC Universal
Courtesy of NBC Universal

Concerns Similar to Reasons NABJ Left Two Years Ago

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is re-evaluating its membership in the Unity: Journalists for Diversity coalition, citing reasons of governance, finances and mission, the same reasons the National Association of Black Journalists listed when it pulled out two years ago.

On Saturday, NAHJ President Hugo Balta confirmed his statements in the Latino Reporter, a student project at the NAHJ convention in Anaheim, Calif., reporting that the NAHJ board discussed NAHJ’s relationship with Unity during closed-door sessions on Friday and that the discussion will eventually open up to all NAHJ members in a future town hall meeting, possibly in September.

“Two voices are stronger than one,” Balta told reporter Maria Camila Bernal. “But regardless of my personal feelings and philosophical feelings about UNITY, I need to protect and defend and champion the best interest of NAHJ.”

NABJ left amid concerns about how the Unity proceeds were split among the partner organizations — then NAHJ, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association; governance and transparency issues; and a feeling by some NABJ members that Unity had strayed too far from its origins as an umbrella organization that staged conventions and become a year-round fifth organization that competed with them for funds.

When NABJ departed, the remaining Unity groups invited the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association to join, and changed the coalition’s name from the race-based Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., to Unity: Journalists for Diversity.

Paul Cheung, national president of AAJA, said Saturday that AAJA has concerns about Unity’s governance just as it has with concerns about its own organization, which created an AAJA committee on governance. If there are issues, “it’s important to get back to the table,” Cheung told Journal-isms at AAJA’s convention in New York.

However, he added, “The issue of diversity can’t be solved by any one organization. We need to have a unified strategy.”

Doris Truong, Chung’s predecessor as AAJA national president, now acting president of Unity, told Yumi Araki in the AAJA convention newspaper that Unity should expand to include organizations that aren’t defined by race or ethnicity.