Benavides ready to take NAHJ’s reins
Journalist runs unopposed for 2016-2018 presidential term
With no opposition and a full resume of leadership positions, Brandon Benavides already has plans for his assumed presidency of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Benavides, who has served in a variety of leadership roles with the organization, is the only NAHJ presidential nominee for the upcoming election. He said he wants to dedicate part of his presidency to helping more members get jobs, especially at the decision-making level.
SERVING ON THE BOARD
It’s not rare for an NAHJ president to run unopposed — in 2010,the presidential race between Michele Salcedo and Hugo Balta broke a 10-year streak of uncontested races.
This year, all 18 board positions are open and only three races are contested.
“I think the biggest challenge we have was to get a good group of people to run for the board because all 18 positions were open,” said Benavides, who has served as Region 6 representative, general at-large officer and president of the D.C. chapter. “So, all of us worked together to get the signatures we needed to get on the ballot.”
Ken Molestina, NAHJ elections committee chair and general at-large officer, said he thinks members don’t show interest because of uncompensated travel costs and the difficulty of balancing their NAHJ duties and a job.
“I’m very lucky that my boss, Bernice Kearney, supports my candidacy and is giving me the opportunity to do this,” Benavides said.
Balta said an employer’s support is vital to the success of a presidency.
“It’s a difficult job,” he said. “If you are not realistic of what the commitment is to be a board member, certainly to be president, and then not have your employer support that mission, you’re going to be unsuccessful.”
Benavides said he’s open to having another joint convention with the National Association of Black Journalists, with whom NAHJ partnered for first time at this week’s event.
Benavides said he wants to focus his time on helping more people of color get top-level jobs in newsrooms.
At a time when minorities make up a fraction of news staffs, that effort is sorely needed.
In 2013, the American Society of Newspaper Editors found 15 percent of daily newspapers had a person of color in one of their top three newsroom leadership positions.
According to ASNE, the number of minority leaders in newsrooms fell by 3 percentage points in 2015 compared with the year before, with 12 percent of participating organizations saying at least one of their top three editors is a person of color.
Benavides plans to expand the NAHJ-commissioned Network Brownout Report, which collects more data about Latino journalists in the media industry. Past reports included the number of Latinos on air, but not in other platforms.
“We don’t necessarily know the exact numbers across the country,” Benavides said. “I think that’s important for us to look into it.”
More about Benavides
Name: Brandon Benavides
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Occupation: Executive producer of Good Morning San Antonio at KSAT 12.
Previous Employment: Content producer at NBC News 4 in Washington, D.C. He has also worked in other cities, such as St. Paul, Minnesota, and Tyler, Texas.
Education: Master of Arts in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University
Recognition: Several Emmy Awards, including for coverage of the 35W bridge collapse at KTSP in Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2007
NAHJ Member: Joined as a student in 2004