Local Media Pros United
By Baldemar Rodriguez
This story from 1998 appeared in Nuestras Vidas. It is an excellent summary of the organization’s history up until that time. Look to this web site for future articles on the history of HAHMP after this piece was written.
Positive images of Hispanics are often difficult to come by in television, motion pictures, print media, and other outlets. The silver screen usually portrays Hispanics as bandits, car thieves, drug addicts or other unsavory characters. While Hispanics comprise approximately 13% or this country’s population, only 2% are seen on television. Sound alarming? A local group already is making a difference.
The Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals (HAHMP) is a non-profit organization with several lofty goals. Members meet at least once a month to discuss issues and topics in the community, country, and the world, and how they affect the Hispanic community. The organization’s main goal—to raise money for its scholarship fund while simultaneously promoting and encouraging young, aspiring journalists to follow in the footsteps of people like John Quiñones, ABC´s PrimeTime Live; Giselle Fernandez, Access Hollywood; Elizabeth Vargas, ABC’s Good Morning America; and Art Rascon, CBS. So far, it’s been nothing but success for HAHMP, with tens of thousands of dollars raised since the organization’s start eleven years ago and at least 30 scholarships awarded to deserving recipients. Thanks to corporate donors, these scholarship recipients are now busily working at becoming the next generation of Hispanic media professionals.
It was July of 1986 when Dianne Solis, a locally-based Wall Street Journal reporter, became the first president of what was then called the Houston Hispanic Journalists Association. Richard Longoria, of KTRK-Channel 13 was vice-president, and Cindy Garza, KTRK-Channel 13 was the group’s secretary. Other founding members included Fernando Dovalina and Jo Ann Zuñiga, both with the Houston Chronicle, Elma Barrera, KTRK-Channel 13 and Sylvan Rodriguez, KHOU-Channel 11. These well-known media personalities all set out to accomplish common goals—from raising the voice of the Hispanic community as it relates to the media to raising funds for scholarships. The group later changed its name to the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals.
In 1988, Fernando Dovalina, the Chronicle’s Assistant Managing Editor, became president of the group. This was his opportunity to “encourage students to go into journalism/media careers” and for the association to find different fundraising venues for scholarships. He conducted a local essay contest and affiliated the effort with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). The contest involved writing published and non-published essays and articles in both English and Spanish. The response was tremendous. The concept was a major hit with the participants! The winners traveled to Capitol Hill to receive their scholarship awards. “It was a wonderful experience for the students. They were able to get experience in writing, have exposure at school, receive an award, and have an opportunity to travel,” Dovalina remembers.
After four years of fundraising and awarding scholarships, HAHMP faced an ever-increasing problem with membership. Word of the organization had not spread far enough nor quickly enough for Channel 11 anchor Sylvan Rodriguez, the organization’s third president and the first to serve two terms. He attempted to solve the problem by hosting several successful membership parties at his home and it worked. During his tenure, the membership quickly grew to approximately sixty members.
As with any other group, not all members were active in the organization. Rodriguez attributes the low activity to the media business. “Members in the media have very demanding careers. We have crazy shifts. We have to emcee functions, make speaking engagements, and perform a host of other activities. We have rotating shifts…it’s the nature of the business. Your whole life is a balancing act,” he says.
While this may be the case for many media professionals, Rodriguez urges, “This is a critical time to join. We are hosting the NAHJ conference in the year 2000 and we have a lot of work ahead of us. The organization needs people to get involved now more than ever.”
HAHMP’s first real success occurred in 1992 when the group raised approximately $10,000 at its first major scholarship banquet at the Westin Oaks Hotel. ABC News Correspondent John Quiñones served as keynote speaker for the event. The money raised was a very modest attempt compared to other organizations,¨ Dovalina reflects.
In 1994, Jo Ann Zuñiga began her term as president, knowing full well the problem of getting more members to join. Still, she lobbied NAHJ to bring the national conference to Houston in the year 2000. Zúñiga attended that year’s conference in Seattle and was amazed at the turnout. “There were more than 1300 attendees from all the media including radio, television, newspapers and magazines,” she says.
By hosting the conference in Houston, Zuñiga is trying to get more media professionals involved with HAHMP. “With so many newspapers, magazines, and television stations closing nationwide, we are either losing members, or staying the same. The importance of keeping the industry diverse must be stressed to ensure fair and accurate portrayals of Hispanics in the media. All the stories about Hispanics shouldn’t be about gangs or prostitutes. There are a lot of Hispanic experts like doctors and lawyers that are positive role models. Let’s write about them,” Zúñiga adds.
The Conference in 2000 will take place at the Westin Galleria with reservations and arrangements already being made for the grand millennium event! But that’s not all. Zuñiga made an even bigger contribution to HAHMP when she masterminded the biggest fundraising even to date. She organized a concert starring comedian Paul Rodriguez at the Arena Theater in September of 1995 with an elegant VIP reception immediately following the concert. It brought in more than 2000 patrons and netted just over $25,000. “The concert sold out. I had to delay the starting time fifteen minutes because a lot of people kept coming in. It was great,” she said. Some of the money raised was put into a CD account, some was used for seed money for the organization, and $10,000 in scholarships were awarded to several students attending a variety of local and state universities. Meantime, Zuñiga continues to prepare for the 2000 Conference.
HAHMP’s newest president, David Medina, a Rice University staff writer, brings his own agenda on expanding the organization. Aside from raising money for scholarships, he wants to expand the board and increase membership to college students and Spanish-speaking organizations. Mission accomplished! Medina organized a fundraising Christmas party at Rice University last year, raising more money for scholarships. In February, HAHMP participated in the Houston Hispanic Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Medina also entered HAHMP in a panel discussion sponsored by the San Jacinto Girl Scouts. In March of this year, he added five new officers to the board—Manny Santos, PBS, Channel 8, membership; Connie Barrera, City of Houston Public Information Officer, scholarship committee; Lisa Hernandez, Canela Promotions, public relations; Rosie Carbó, Nuestras Vidas staff writer, fundraising; and college students Pat Bermudez and Sylvia Barrera serve jointly as student liaisons and historians for the group. Jaime Zamora, KTRK-Channel 13 news photographer is treasurer, Margaret Garcia, Fox 26 Community Affairs is secretary and Lisa Hernandez is vice-president.
“By expanding the board, more members are involved in the organization. I delegated the responsibilities to different people. I want them to feel they are doing something,” Medina relates. This past April, he set up the “Hopwood & Affirmative Action” panel at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Region 5 conference in Austin. Several HAHMP members attended the conference. In May, Medina, with the help of board members, organized “La Pachanga,” a very successful membership drive party. It was a fun way to recruit more students and media professionals. Board member Jaime Zamora hosted the event at his home. It proved to be a huge success. More than a hundred people attended the function and several became new members, bringing the total membership to 150.
HAHMP recently held its scholarship banquet at Rice University and awarded a total of $10,000 to eight university students majoring in media-related careers. CBS corresponden Art Rascon was the keynote speaker. KTRK-Channel 13 reporter Elma Barrera generously donated $1,000 to establish a scholarship for a female student seeking a career in journalism. The scholarship committee, chaired by Connie Barrera, was comprised of Channel 2 producer Dena Marks, Houston Chronicle Religion writer Richard Vara, Ruben Gonzalez of Compaq Computers, the Houston Chronicle’s Zuñiga and University of Houston journalism professor Fred Schiff.
“If we are really going to get ahead as Hispanics in the media, we as Hispanic media professionals need to stick together and become prominent nationwide. This organization allows that,” Barrera explains. Students interested in a career in the media are encouraged to apply for a scholarship. Barrera reminds students, “If you can dream it, you can do it. With faith and perseverance, anything is possible.”
By-Laws of the Houston Association
of Hispanic Media Professionals
Adopted June 6, 2005
The Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals, or, HAHMP. The principal office for the transaction of business of the corporation is located in the State of Texas, County of Harris.
The Purpose of HAHMP is to:
1. Raise scholarship money to help deserving students pursue a college degree in journalism and communications careers.
2. Advance and be an advocate for Hispanics in journalism and communications careers.
3. Encourage and support professional development of members.
4. To help provide fair and accurate media coverage of the Hispanic Community.
A. Journalist membership
General membership is open to all professionals in electronic and print media who support themselves principally from income earned in the gathering, editing or presentation of news. All general members are eligible to vote and hold office. Annual dues are thirty five (35) dollars.
B. Communications membership
Open to journalism educators, professionals in advertising and public relations and media freelancers. Communications members are eligible to vote and can hold can hold office except that for President or Vice President. Annual dues are thirty five (35) dollars.
C. Supporting membership
Open to entities and individuals that support the goals of the Association. There shall be two classes of supporting members:
1. Individual, whose annual dues shall be one hundred (100) dollars.
2. Corporate, who annual dues shall be five hundred (500) dollars.
D. Student membership
Open to college students involved in the study of journalism or communications. Student members may not vote or hold office. Annual dues are ten (15) dollars.
1. Fixed annual dues must be paid by date by January 31st.
2. Dues must be up to date for a member to vote on Association issues or elections.
3. Membership fees may be modified by a two thirds vote of eligible members present at a general meeting.
Meetings and Elections
A. Association general membership meetings will be held a minimum of six times a year. All meeting times and locations will be posted on the Association website at least ten days in advance. Board meetings will be held thirty minutes prior to general membership meetings, and/or, when and where called by the Association president.
B. Election of board members shall take place every other August, the term of office being two years. Should a board member resign a post, a special election will be called within thirty days. If the President resigns or is unable to serve, the post will be filled for the duration of the term by the Vice President. In the event the V-P assumes the office of President, he/she may appoint a V-P to serve the duration of the term.
C. A majority of the elected board is required to conduct association business at an officially called meeting posted to the general membership.
All board members will serve two year terms and may serve no more than two consecutive terms of office. Board members may also serve on any of the asssociation committees.
Must be a working electronic or print journalist. Will preside over meetings and develop the meeting agenda. Will serve as the association spokesperson.
B. Vice President:
Must be a working electronic or print journalist. Will assume the duties of the president in the president’s absence.
C. Immediate Past President:
Will provide continuity of leadership by assisting the newly elected president with guidance and organizational assistance.
Will record the minutes of meetings of the members and the directors. Will post notice of meetings.
Will keep a record of all financial transactions and deposit all money in the name and to the credit of the association. Will disburse funds at the order of the President who shall sign or co-sign all disbursements. Will provide an account of all transactions and account balances at each meeting of the members and/or directors. May also be charged with the responsibility of collecting annual dues and notifying members when they are in arrears of dues payment.
F. Membership Director:
Will keep records of membership showing names of all members, their addresses, type of membership and a record showing dues payments. Will collect annual dues and notify members when they are in arrears of dues payment. Will help plan events aimed at increasing association membership.
G. Scholarship Director:
Will post notice of annual scholarship awards and distribute applications to qualified students. Will form a committee to screen applications, select scholarship award recipients, and notify such recipients of their selection.
Removal or Resignation of Board Members:
A. Elected board members may resign by providing a letter of resignation to the President and board.
B. Any elected board member may be removed by the majority vote of the board with or without cause.
C. Committee chairs may be removed by the President without any vote.
D. Board members may be subject to removal for missing three meetings per year.
E. Vacancies of any elected position may only be filled by special election.
The Association will have several standing committees including but not limited to:
- Professional Development
- Student Activities
All committee chairs and members must be current Association members and will be appointed by the Association president who may also remove designated chairs with or without cause.
Amendments to the By-Laws:
A. The Association By-Laws may be amended by recommendation at general membership meetings. Amendements will be voted on once a year during officer elections.
B. Amendments must be approved by board members present when the vote is taken.
These By-Laws replace and supercede the previous By-Laws of the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals, HAHMP, and were approved at their meeting on (Date) in Houston, Texas
Anthony Yanez, KPRC Channel 2
Fabian Gutierrez, KPRC Channel 2