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NAHJ rescinds Fox News sponsorship offer for upcoming conference

Hugo Balta, NAHJ President, announced that the organization is rescinding Fox News' invitation to serve as a sponsor for the EIJ conference in San Antonio in…

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The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has rescinded an invitation from Fox News to serve as a sponsor for the upcoming Excellence in Journalism (EIJ) conference in San Antonio next month.

NAHJ President Hugo Balta announced the decision in a press release on Aug. 22.

“My decision comes following the remarks of Fox News Radio Host, Todd Starnes. Starnes, justifies his prejudiced language directed against Latino immigrants as opinionated commentary,” Balta stated in a press release. 

“Starnes unapologetically states that America has ‘suffered’ from the ‘invasion of a rampaging hoard of illegal aliens’, claiming that most ‘illegal immigrants’ are violent criminals,”  he further explained.

The comments came less than two weeks after a mass shooting in El Paso, TX, resulted in 22 lives lost, many of whom were Hispanic.

“Starnes’ brazen language is symptomatic of a culture that provides a megaphone for disinformation by those in power with agendas, including the Trump administration at the cost of the most vulnerable – immigrant communities,” added Balta. 

As a journalism organization that aims to report and portray a fair and accurate treatment of Hispanics, Balta said, there is no way to allow others to “shelf” lies under the pretext of exercising the First Amendment.

Journalism organizations have a responsibility to report facts, without bias, and allow the public to form their own perspectives based on those facts – opinions should not be coming from the news organization, itself. 

“It is important that news organizations do not use or give a platform to slanted jargon disguised as opinion that misconstrues the facts,” said Balta. 

That can often lead to feelings of fear and dissent that negatively impacts the audience.

As a result of the conversations that may direct from the comments, the NAHJ will be returning the sponsorship dollars given by Fox News. 

“To accept financial support from an entity that perpetuates the spread of disinformation to the public about the Hispanic and Latino community risks the integrity and credibility of NAHJ’s 35 year mission,” said Balta. 

“To sit silently by is, in essence to be complicit in the act itself,” he added. 

NAHJ has asked co-conference partners – the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) to join in returning their share of the sponsorship dollars. However, each declined in favor of giving Fox News a larger platform to discuss what they label as a “teachable moment.”

The 2019 Excellence in Journalism conference will take place Sept. 5-7 in San Antonio, TX. The conference is a partnership between the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. It has taken place annually since 2011, and provides journalists with the industry's best training and networking opportunities. 

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