President’s Message: October 21, 2013

Dear NAHJ Nation,

I have only one topic to discuss in this edition of the president’s message: UNITY Journalists for Diversity.

It’s been nearly two months since we started the conversation about NAHJ seeking independence from UNITY. In the last eight weeks we’ve discussed via social media the need for our association to exercise autonomy in producing events, advocacy and fulfilling mission. The financial perils of being part UNITY were illustrated on our website. An unprecedented virtual town hall meeting was held last week giving members additional opportunities to ask questions and voice their opinions – a link to the recording is available on the NAHJ website.

This process comes to a conclusion this week. On Tuesday the NAHJ national board will vote on leaving UNITY. We will hear from two guests: UNITY president David Steinberg and former NABJ lifetime member Roland Martin each will share their insights before the vote

Many board members, myself included, have already made a decision.

As one of the four NAHJ representatives, which includes Mekahlo Medina, Yvonne Latty, and Maria Burns Ortiz on the UNITY board, I join them and NAHJ executive director Anna Lopez Buck in recommending NAHJ leave UNITY.

To those who simplify the crisis by saying, “go back to the negotiating table,” and “how about one more chance?” – I say how many chances do you need?

It’s been more than a year for the NAHJ representatives, more than two years since NABJ warned and ultimately left UNITY….and still no changes. NAHJ depends greatly on volunteers (two who are on the NAHJ board and the UNITY board.) We cannot afford to continue to deplete our limited resources on an organization that does not represent the best interests of NAHJ or her mission. Our leader’s time must be focused on NAHJ.

Sponsors, members/leaders of like-kind journalism associations and NAHJ members have repeatedly brought up to me UNITY’s inconsistencies with accounting and accountability.

This is a serious mode of operation that at best is consistent mismanagement and at worst a threat to UNITY’s 501(c) (3) status.

NAHJ cannot afford to be part of any organization that doesn’t hold itself to the same high standards of financial decision making and transparency as NAHJ.

We, the members of NAHJ, have sacrificed, worked tirelessly and endured too much to risk losing the credibility and faith we’ve built and earned with each other, our sponsors, like-kind associations and the community we serve.

I will inform you immediately of the outcome of the board’s vote.

Thank you.

Hugo Balta
NAHJ President.

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