(Washington, D.C.) – The National Association Of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is committed to ensuring a welcoming and safe environment at its national conference and all events and activities hosted and supported by the association.
Last year, a former NAHJ board member posted a letter to his Facebook page alleging sexual misconduct at the 2010 NAHJ national convention in Denver within the student projects program.
Upon receipt of this letter, the NAHJ national board of directors assigned a special committee to investigate the allegations. The special committee initially consisted of Laura Castaneda (chair), Blanca Rios, and Javier Palmera. Subsequently, Mr. Palmera dropped out and two other board members were added to the team: Nick Valencia and Robert Hernandez.
The special committee has now presented a full report including recommendations.
The special committee devoted countless hours to this investigation, including interviewing 16 people. The author of the original letter did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Additionally, during the course of the investigation, the special committee was made aware of other allegations of misconduct, and addressed those within the scope of the investigation.
Ultimately, the special committee was unable to confirm the specific allegations, including whether the NAHJ board at the time was aware of the original complaint involving incidents as far back as 2010.
However, the special committee did find a culture of unacceptable behavior at past NAHJ conferences.
Protecting our membership is NAHJ’s highest priority, and the Board is committed to a safe and inclusive culture at its events. The NAHJ National Board has now voted unanimously to adopt a slate of recommendations made by the special committee. Two of these recommendations were implemented at the Excellence In Journalism Conference in San Antonio, Texas in September. The other recommendations are being implemented immediately.
- Establish a hotline at conventions for members to report any harassment or other concerns. 1. Implemented at the EIJ 2019 conference, (VitaActiva)
- Establish an NAHJ response team to immediately respond to hotline reports during conventions. 2. Implemented at the EIJ 2019 conference (VitaActiva)
- Establish a permanent reporting mechanism for NAHJ members to file complaints, such as calling or emailing the NAHJ executive director or board president. 3. Permanent Reporting Process TBD by 3/31/2020
- Require periodic anti-harassment training for board members and student mentors, to commence by the end of 2019 4. Board Leaders, Staff, and Chapter Leaders will be required to complete online anti-harassment training by 3/31/2020, training costs will be covered by NAHJ national office.
- Require rigorous reference checks for student project mentors. 5. Will begin 2020, mentors will also be required to sign Code of Conduct and complete anti-harassment training prior to becoming a mentor.
- Develop, publicize and enforce a code of conduct for attendees and recruiters of any conference, workshop or event coordinated by the national board and staff. 6. Code of Conduct was adopted by the National Board in 2018 for all Board and Staff. At EIJ 2019, the Code of Conduct was adopted by all the partners of the EIJ conference and Code of Conduct was publicly posted at multiple locations. In 2020, chapter leaders and mentors will also be required to sign Code of Conduct and at the 2020 convention, those registering in the NAHJ convention registration portal will have to acknowledge they reviewed Code of Conduct before they can finish registration process.
- Publicize and reinforce other codes of conduct that have already been adopted. 7. Adopted at EIJ conference in 2019
- Require that the suite rented for the NAHJ president at the national convention be limited only to the president and his/her spouse/partner and family. 8. Adopted at the 2018 NAHJ National Conference
- Require the NAHJ board to create record or documentation of every incident. 9. Documentation process TBD by 3/31/2020.
About NAHJ The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States and dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. The mission of NAHJ is to increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms and to work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news media. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. NAHJ has approximately 2,500 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators. For more information please visit NAHJ.org or follow on Twitter @NAHJ.
Veritas Group for NAHJ