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Sunday, September 08, 2013

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 9-8

Just a Thought: SA Association of Hispanic Journalists
By Steve Walker

As an active dues paying member of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists (SAAHJ) for a few years, I am proud of what our organization accomplishes in promoting the next generation of young aspiring journalists and honoring its own.

Established in 1987, the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists is composed of local Hispanic, African-American, and Anglo journalists, public relations professionals and students interested in communications or the public relations industry. In the past two years we have noticed the increased interest of local college students as well as high school students wishing to pursue a career in journalism joining our ranks as members.

At a recent monthly meeting held at the Express-News building in one of their meeting rooms, students from two high schools and three colleges with their journalism sponsors showed up to participate. Most of the student advisors were former working journalists at one time or other in their career.

Our organization takes great pride in our effort to continually raise funds as part of our charter to offer young students an opportunity to qualify for scholarships for college and pursue a career in one of the communications field.

One of our notable success stories is our current President Francisco Vara-Orta who is a past recipient of more than one scholarship from the organization. Vara-Orta is currently the Education Reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. Our two immediate past presidents are Express-News Metro Editor Nora Lopez and Express News Columnist Elaine Ayala.

At our recent SAAHJ 15th Annual Gala in July, the 2013 recipients of scholarships included: Katherine Benavides, St. Mary’s U. Angelica Maria Casas, OLLU, Neida Alejandra Escamilla, OLLU, Lucia Espino, TAMU SA, Joshua Fechter, UT Austin, Sarah Gibbens, UTSA, Alma Linda Manzanarez, TAMU SA, Mariah Jasmin Medina, Texas State University, Darian Mendez, OLLU, Malik Mingo, Texas State University, Marques Mingo, Texas State University, Jesse Salazar III, UT Austin and Bria M. Webb, New York University.

During our gala we awarded $25,000 in scholarships to the next generation of media and communications professionals. As part of our mission we also honored one recipient for their contribution to the community and another for their lifetime achievement in Journalism.

This year’s honorees included: Univision-41 Anchorwoman Monica Navarro who was named the recipient of the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism and Fox 29 News Anchorwoman Karen Martinez who was named the recipient of the  Community Service Award. It was presented posthumously to Martinez’s family since Martinez passed away earlier this year losing her battle with cancer.

Last year’s recipients included KSAT-12 Reporter Jessie Degollado who was the recipient of the Henry Guerra Award and Father David Garcia recipient of the Community Service Award. On a personal note, I was privileged to work with Degollado in 1983 at the ABC affiliate in Weslaco where she anchored the five o’clock news while I served as a general assignments reporter.

With more Hispanic media markets opening up and competing with the mainstream media for the Hispanic viewers, and a push for more Hispanic Journalists working in the mainstream media, the SAAHJ is doing its part to promote quality and excellence over quantity.

Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.

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