Portrait: UC Berkeley Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists

October 13, 2017

Front row (left to right): Eleni Gill (’19), Alondra De La Cruz (’19), Alex Nieves (’19), Sarah Cahlan (’19), Pablo De La Hoya (’18), Nate Sheidlower (’18), Andres Cediel (’04)

Back row (left to right): Francesca Fenzi (’19), Vianey Alderete Contreras (’19), Marian Carrasquero (’19), Karla Caraballo-Torres (’19), Liliana Michelena (’18)

Hours after one of the country’s deadliest mass shootings, the UC Berkeley student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) plunged into a meaty discussion about the ethics and practices of reporting on a crisis; especially one that hits close to home.

Members discussed the coverage of the Las Vegas concert shooting, and how to report compassionately on the community instead of just the tragedy. One question, for example, was whether graphic images of violent crime victims should be published for a broad audience in real time.

By the end of the conversation, it was clear that the impact of the talk went beyond assessing the educational value of critiquing media coverage of a tragic event. The discussion, though it brought a somber mood to a meeting that started with burritos, horchata, and the music of Natalia Lafourcade, proved therapeutic for NAHJ members.

“If you all ever have something you want to talk about, that’s what we’re here for,” chapter President Pablo De La Hoya (’18), said. “Deep down, we’re all just here for each other, beyond NAHJ, just as J-School students.”

The group also shares a deep connection with the local professional chapter. “We are very proud of what the students have accomplished at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism,” says Claudia Cruz, president of the NAHJ Bay Area chapter and technology reporter at CNET en Español.

“As a professional chapter,” Cruz added, “we’ve successfully helped the UC Berkeley NAHJ chapter acquire internships at The San Francisco Chronicle, publish work in other media outlets, get funding to attend NAHJ’s national convention, and network with local reporters.”

Newly-elected Vice President Karla Caraballo-Torres (’19) who has been an NAHJ member for several years, studied film and TV at Boston University and worked on several bilingual programs in Washington, D.C., most recently Efecto Naím. She is currently reporting on immigration, and recently co-authored a piece about DACA for Mother Jones magazine.

Sarah Cahlan (’19) an NAHJ member and Las Vegas native, wasn’t the only one to question the coverage of upsetting events. Nuria Marquez Martinez (’19), had recently faced a similar emotional dilemma of how to experience a crisis as both a journalist and a human, when her home country of Mexico was devastated by an earthquake in Mexico City. Luis Hernandez (’19), also struggled to comprehend the coverage of his community in Brooklyn, N.Y., after Hurricane Sandy.

“It was really hard to see the news describe us as victims when I saw us as survivors,” Hernandez said. “Don’t just report on the tragedy, report on the people who made it through, who came together during the crisis. I think that’s what NAHJ is trying to do.”

And it is. NAHJ’s broader purpose is to make sure Latino and Hispanic populations are represented in newsrooms, to both cover Latino issues and bring a broader perspective to issues outside of the community.

In the last year, Berkeley chapter president De La Hoya said, NAHJ has done a great deal to connect members with mentors in the field. In April, the chapter hosted prominent Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui for an event they opened up to the entire campus.

The room brimmed with students and members of the public, and many others gathered outside the hall to watch a live stream.

“It was really good to see because this is someone who’s not just a journalist, this is a person who a lot of people look up to,” De La Hoya recalled.

Bay Area chapter president Cruz said: “Whether it’s a film screening about the killing of Mexican journalist Ruben Salazar, hosting chats with Isaac Lee, the president of Univision, or securing Jorge Ramos as their 2017 commencement speaker, they’ve shown they can raise awareness about the challenges and triumphs of Latinos in news.”

Beyond their own events, NAHJ members team up with other affinity groups at the J-School, such as the Asian American Journalists Association chapter. In September, the two groups co-hosted Jeremy Raff, who came to speak about his work producing videos for AJ+ and now The Atlantic. NAHJ member JoeBill Muñoz (’19), who, like Raff, is a Texas native, said they have exchanged emails since the event.

In her pitch to serve as the NAHJ chapter’s new vice president, Caraballo-Torres highlighted the importance of having more Latino and Hispanic reporters in newsrooms. And while she doesn’t feel they should be hired with the expectation that they will cover Latino and Hispanic topics exclusively, she said they can sometimes bring something to the table other reporters cannot.

“It’s more than just having more Latinos in news,” Caraballo-Torres added. “It’s about Hispanic and Latino issues being covered by journalists with an understanding of the community.”

By Alex Matthews (’19)

Photo: Khaled Sayed (’18)

Student Bios

Alex Nieves is on the narrative writing track and is interested in covering the environment and politics.

Alondra De La Cruz is a first generation Mexican American on the video track who reports on community, culture, and politics.

Francesca Fenzi is an audio journalism student interested in documentary storytelling and media education.

Jackeline Luna (not pictured) is a journalist who covers housing in the Bay Area.

Karla Caraballo-Torres is a bilingual multimedia journalist with a focus on documentary film production.

Liliana Michelena Rebatta is a multimedia journalist originally from Peru.

Lorin Eleni Gill was born and raised in Honolulu and worked as a business reporter before coming to the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism to study new media.

Luis Hernandez is a first year student on the documentary track. He hopes to report on health and wellness issues centered around masculinity and body image, and would also like to report on issues happening in Brooklyn, specifically in his neighborhood: Red Hook.

Marian Carrasquero is a Venezuelan visual journalist in the New Media track who wants to report on social issues especially concerning youth in Latin America.

Nate Sheidlower is a writer who covers public health issues and attitudes.

Pablo De La Hoya is a documentary filmmaker and photojournalist.

Sarah Cahlan is a multimedia journalist interested in reporting on the earth and its history.

Serginho Roosblad is a visual journalist, hailing from the Netherlands, with roots in the Caribbean.

Spencer Silva (not pictured) is a narrative and radio journalist interested in politics, sports and environmental reporting.

Vianey Alderete Contreras, on the New media track, writes about social trends, immigration, education, healthcare, and politics.


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