Friday, November 18, 2016

90 Minutes with Russell Contreras

Vanessa Copetas

On Wednesday night, Russell Contreras spoke at a 90 minute series. Contreras is from New Mexico and is the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Recently, the election has harmed America. Regardless of who voted for whom, there was name calling and vote-bashing towards our acquaintances based on who we voted for. Grown adults called others “bigots” and “liars” because of which party they associated themselves with.

That is why I was pleasantly surprised with Contreras’ speech. Contreras was not biased and only presented facts.

To begin his presentation, he began by talking about the election. We, as journalists, look to present a story based on the facts and the truth to allow society to make their own informed decision. This includes reporting about the presidential candidates. However, since 1994, instead of candidates in the presidency debating on facts, we have progressed into a country that focuses on arguing rather than discussing.

Take this article from While it is supposed to focus on the high points of the debate, it references Trump calling Clinton  a “devil” and Clinton firing back saying that no one with Trump’s “temperament” should be president.

As reporters, Contreras believes that reporters are partially responsible and “dropped the ball” this election season. We look for what “the people” are interested in. We don’t look to inform the public on their stances on climate change or gun control, we’re more interested in who won the debate with a surprising response rather than a strong debate.

Additionally, we have forgotten about the middle of the country. We look at the big states and the coasts but we forget about the others. We make assumptions about these small states and then when we speak to them, they become suspicious to us as reporters.

So what does this mean for our jobs as journalists? Well, seeing as one of our codes is to “seek the truth and report it” we need to shed light on what’s important. Rather than fall into the “soft news” and what is entertaining, we need to report the whole truth so people can make educated decisions.

Additionally, another code is to “be accountable and transparent”. Contreras stated that “it’s not about the journalist, but about the journalism”. It is important for us to not let our own biases get in the way of our reporting or show the audience how we are affected by a certain interview or reaction we receive while on the job.

In addition to that, Contreras informed us that it’s important that we don’t lose sight of this goal because in recent years if a voter’s desired candidate does not win they begin to lose faith in the country. Americans have the responsibility consume news that is outside of their own world but we need to provide them with this in order for them to be able to.

We, as Americans, have the ability to choose the leader of our country, which is a privilege many countries do not have. However, we need to do our part and vote in the primaries. This election was so important because many Americans felt the two main party candidates were not qualified enough to hold the position. However, many forget that we had the ability to chose different candidates to represent those parties.

 An article on, claimed that voting in the primaries is “a key role in shaping the final platforms of the major candidates in the November election”. If we take the time to open our mind to the possibility of another candidate winning we will be less upset with the end result, even if our desired party does not win.

It is our ability to provide the country with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. However, in order to reach this we have to be truthful and transparent in order to give an unbiased report and allow Americans to make their own decisions.

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