Candidate for Secretary: Sergio Quintana
NAHJ’s recent board elections had a precedent-setting tie. Candidates Chris Ramirez and Sergio Quintana each got the same number of votes. NAHJ has extended the voting period for this race. The race is critical, because the new secretary stands to serve as a tie-breaker between opposing NAHJ blocs. Don’t forget to vote! The South Florida chapter asked both candidates to answer a few questions.
A few responses from Sergio Quintana, a freelance broadcast journalist in San Francisco.
SF: How would you have voted on the recent controversy over whether reporters (student or otherwise) should be allowed to live tweet board meetings?
SQ: I would have voted to overturn the policy against tweeting during an open meeting of the board.
My jaw dropped when i heard about what happened at UNITY.
My first thought was; I’ve covered federal court trials with Twitter, how can our open board meetings be more restrictive than a federal court trial?
When I learned the particulars about why the policy against Twitter coverage was instituted – I understood the reasoning – but I didn’t agree with it.
As an association of journalists – we should reflect the principles of openness and transparency. Of course the board needs to conduct business without having every debate taken out of context – but that is what executive sessions are for.
I’m proud that overturning the “no Twitter” policy was the first official action of the new board leadership.
SF: Which presidential candidate did you endorse? Why?
SQ: Hugo Balta
I respect some of the actions taken by Russell Contreras and his fellow board members during some of the darkest moments of our association. And I have every reason to believe that Russell is a fine journalist. I even have a vested interest in his coverage ofAlbuquerqueand the rest ofNew Mexicobecause I’m originally fromNorthern New Mexico.
However, I quickly saw that Hugo Balta has a stronger skill set that reaches beyond journalism. Hugo has the ability to get business done – and with a positive influence.
Before UNITY – I was able to build a quick working relationship with Hugo. He’s got a deep knowledge about the way our business works, and he has a calming diplomacy about him. I only met Hugo in person last Wednesday in Vegas. With his win, I hope to be part of an exciting building project for NAHJ.
SF: What NEW ideas do you have for NAHJ?
SQ: During our candidates introductions at UNITY I mentioned that I live inSan Francisco- the land of the non profits.
What I’m learning from those non profits is that partnerships are key, not only to survive, but to thrive.
NAHJ should be partnering with groups like theInternationalCenterfor Journalists (ICFJ) and the Knight Digital Media Foundation. They offer free, week long, multi-media training sessions for mid career professionals (ICFJ’s are in Spanish and English). They are free, and I can vouch for how intensive those trainings are, because I’ve completed both of them. And did I mention they are free?
I made a lot of hay about the sorry state of NAHJ’s website. With the help of Mekahlo Medina, Rebecca Aguilar and Hugo Balta, we built a prototype web site for NAHJ that is much more attractive and functional.
But what I’d really like to do is not just make that site be a place for members to get business done through a secure access, but also be a social networking hub for members and journalists in general. The audience for NAHJ.org should not just be for members, it should also be there for outside entities to turn to as a resource.
SF: Why are you running for office?
SQ: I am running for office for two reasons; First, I’ve spent my adult life building a career that’s led me toSan Francisco, a city I want to settle into for a long time. But I don’t want to get comfortable. so I want to devote time to rebuilding NAHJ.
And second, NAHJ was there when I needed it. A couple years ago I was very underemployed. I applied for a fellowship offered by NAHJ,New YorkUniversityand theUniversityofArizona. I was selected as one of five freelancers to work with students at those universities for a reporting project. It was a great opportunity for those students, but it was an affirming experience for me. Working with those students was so fun. It recharged my batteries, and gave me the confidence to apply for two more fellowships (the Knight Foundation and the ICFJ I mentioned earlier).
So, I’m running to give back, basically.
SF: Both platforms seem to focus a great deal on job listings. For those of us who have a job, what benefits will my NAHJ membership offer under your leadership?
SQ: I’m one of the lucky ones who has a job (well jobs, I’m a freelancer). But I’m always thinking about career advancement.
One of the best conversations I had with my friend Mekahlo Medina at UNITY was about encouraging our membership to start pivoting toward executive level positions in our newsrooms and media companies. I think the organization has done an admirable job pushing to make our newsrooms look more like the communities we cover (though admittedly some of that progress has been lost because of the slump in the economy). But we need more Latina/o News Directors and Dditors. heck, we need Latina/o General Managers, VPs and Presidents.
As an organization we should also begin inspiring our membership to be more entrepreneurial. When I look at what leaders like my friend Rebecca Aguilar have done when their careers took sudden transitions – I thank the Lord for the possibilities. I am inspired by the opportunities she is creating for herself.
With the world wide web – we have the opportunity to own our own media – and that is a powerful thing. It’s better to realize that while you’re employed, and can begin building those opportunities with some steady money in your pocket, instead of figuring out how to put the pieces together after the rug has been pulled out from under you.
Those of us with jobs should also be prepared to help our fellow members who need it. Clearly, the best resource for those who are unemployed or underemployed, is someone in a newsroom who has some inside information. I hate to keep returning to the website, but that should be a resource not just job postings, but for members in newsrooms who might be a good contacts for job seekers.
SF: What steps would you take to heal the negative atmosphere at NAHJ right now?
SQ: If anyone has ever spent more than five minutes around me, you’ll quickly learn that I am an almost endlessly positive person. I’m pretty proud of that. Don’t get me wrong, I have a sharpened set of tools I use every day to cut through the“mugrero”of the world.
But my philosophy is pretty simple; be the positive influence you hope to inspire in others.
We’ve seen some tough moments in our association recently. But in the end we should all recognize that we are professionals, and as such, we should act professionally and extend the same courtesy to our fellow members.
SF: What does NAHJ mean to you?
SQ: NAHJ is the first place I got any real constructive criticism about my career and performance as a journalist. In fact Rebecca Aguilar is one of the first people who watched my resume tape (I wont say how long ago that was, but it’s been more than a decade). She pointed out a few things I wasn’t doing well. But more importantly, she told me what I was doing right!
And, she did the exact same thing every year thereafter. Because of her influence, and the influence of so many other friends and colleagues in this organization I know i am a strong journalist. That’s confidence you really can’t put a price on.
So, what does NAHJ mean to me? Can I get back to you when I invent a word or phrase that encapsulates all my thoughts and feelings that adequately answer this question?
SF: What do you want members to know about you?
SQ: About my career – my fellow members should know that I’ve been a broadcast reporter for about 15 years.
I’ve worked in television and radio newsrooms inRoswell,Albuquerque,Los Angeles, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel hill, and nowSan Francisco. I’m currently a freelance reporter at the ABC owned an operated station inSan Francisco– KGO TV.
Most of my experience is in local newsrooms. But I’ve also filed for Sirius/XM Radio, NPR and Al Jazeera English. Along with television and radio experience, my skill set includes some print and online reporting. I’ve filed for the Advocate and I’ve taught myself how to build web sites.
About me – my fellow members should know that I’m a hard worker, and I love figuring out new ways to solve problems. I believe life is a constant class room with new lessons every day.
I’m a sucker for a good joke, so please share as many as you can with me when you see me or contact me.
I love to sing – so I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to a karaoke club when I was at UNITY (and even more disappointed I missed the AAJA sing off competition).
I’m from a little city calledLas Vegas,New Mexico(which more accurately resembles a “meadow city” thanLas Vegas,Nevadadoes, just sayin’).
Hablo español, pero no puedo escribir en español perfectamente. por eso soy reportero en íngles.
SF: Why should people vote for you?
SQ: It’s become crystal clear to me over the last month that NAHJ continues to be in a tough situation. We have funding issues, communications issues, membership issues, convention issues….. It can be overwhelming if you think too much about it. But I’m not afraid of the problems. I’m not even afraid of failing.
Instead, I’m afraid of not being able to help fix those issues because I simply didn’t get a chance to do it.
I tied with my competitor in this race for one simple reason; not enough of my fellow members know me. Well, if you’ve invested enough time to read my responses to these questions, you should know me a little better now.
And you should know that I want to be secretary on the NAHJ board. And I want to do the best job i can for the organization.
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