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Hispanic Hall of Fame Inductees Lead the Way

Jun 9, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The modern history of Latinos in the media is writ large at NAHJ’s Hall of Fame, which will add three inductees at the 25th-anniversary Celebration Gala, 7 p.m. June 16 at the Fairmont Plaza Hotel in downtown San Jose. This year’s inductees are Cecilia Alvear, Rigo Chacon and George Ramos.
Created in 2000, the NAHJ Hall of Fame honors journalists and industry pioneers whose national or local efforts have led to a greater number of Latinos entering journalism or helped to improve news coverage of the U.S. Latino community. Mr. Ramos, Ms. Alvear and Mr. Chacon will be NAHJ’s 17th, 18th and 19th Hall of Fame inductees.
“We were extremely pleased this year to have a really good list of 10 candidates to choose from,” said Ivan Roman, NAHJ’s executive director. “It was very hard to choose. They are models of our mission of diversifying media.”
Ms. Alvear, a former NAHJ president, was a field producer with NBC network news in Burbank until she retired in February. She has been a TV producer at all three network-owned local stations in Los Angeles and won an Emmy while at the local CBS station.
“She was the very first Latina producer for a network, and she’s got extensive experience,” said NAHJ 2007 co-chair Veronica Villafane.
Born and raised in the Galapagos Islands, Ms. Alvear moved to the U.S. in the 1960s and became a citizen in 1984. She became NBC’s Mexico City bureau chief in 1982, later serving as senior producer for Latin America and then as a field producer on the West Coast. A 1988 Nieman Fellow, Cecilia is a member of the advisory board to the Nieman Foundation for Journalists at Harvard University.
As a producer, she has covered numerous major news stories, including the 1980s wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua; the 1985 Mexico City earthquake; the Mengele investigation in Brazil; the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas; and the takeover of the Japanese embassy in Peru by the Tupac Amaru guerillas. In 1998, she was part of the NBC News team that covered Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua and Honduras and Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to Cuba. She also has done two interviews with Fidel Castro in Cuba.
In 2000, Ms. Alvear made Hispanic Business magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States. The California Chicano News Media Association honored her in 1996 for her “pioneering efforts.”
A cancer survivor, Ms. Alvear serves on the board of Padres Contra el Cancer, a nonprofit group that helps Latino children with cancer and their families.
“I feel honored, humbled and grateful,” said Ms. Alvear. “It is very special to be recognized by one’s peers. In retrospect, it is amazing to realize that my fellow Hall of Famers and my peers, by entering this profession when we did, in effect ended the ‘apartheid’ that existed in the media. There were very few women, very few Latinos, very few people of color in journalism. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Until we have diversity at the top, our mission will not be completed. And despite the profound crisis that confronts mainstream media, we have to position ourselves to find our way in the brave new world of the Internet. Adelante!”
Mr. Chacon was with KABC-TV for 29 years, joining the station in 1974 as a general assignment reporter and opening up the first Santa Clara County bureau of a San Francisco-based TV station. While at San Jose’s KNTV (1971-74), Mr. Chacon won his first Emmy as a producer. He received his second Emmy in 1985 for excellence in general news reporting, including coverage of the Mexico City earthquake, the Lexington Hills fire and his tribute to four of his friends whose names are on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. In May 2003, Mr. Chacon received his third Emmy, the Governor’s Award for lifetime achievement.
The fifth of 10 children, Mr. Chacon moved with his family from a small community in Mexico to El Paso, Texas, when he was 8. He worked with his family in the orchards and fields, and later attended San Jose High School, which lists him as one of the top five alumni in the school’s history.
Other accolades include induction into the Silver Circle for the Bay Area chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The Mexican government gave him its Ohtli Award for native sons and daughters of Mexico or their descendants who have excelled on foreign soil.
Mr. Chacon founded Abrazos & Books in 1990, an organization that raises money for scholarships. More than half a million dollars has been awarded to more than 400 students of all ethnicities throughout Santa Clara. Mr. Chacon is now president of Rigo Chacon & Associates, which provides voice work, video production and motivational speaking.
Mr. Ramos joined the Los Angeles Times in 1978, was a reporter, editor, bureau chief and columnist and during his tenure won three Pulitzer Prizes. In 1984 he received the first Pulitzer awarded to a Hispanic journalist, for meritorious public service for a series about Latinos in Southern California. He is currently the chair of the journalism department at California’s Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, from which he graduated in 1969.
According to Mr. Roman, two President’s Awards will be awarded at the Celebration Gala, to former NAHJ deputy director Joseph Torres, government relationships manager for Free Press, a nonprofit organization that advocates for media reform, and Free Press policy director Ben Scott. Also, the gala program will acknowledge the NAHJ’s 90 pioneer members.
“We’ll be showing people how the organization has matured and evolved,” said Mr. Roman. “The vision they had back then has turned into what we are today.”
25TH ANNIVERSARY NAHJ CONVENTION
Theme: NAHJ@25: Building Today, Shaping Tomorrow
Where: McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, Calif.
When: June 13-16
Details: nahj.org

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