New America Media Holds Awards Ceremony
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The New America Media (NAM) held “The 2017 NAM California Ethnic Media Awards” ceremony at the PG&E Auditorium in San Francisco on Tuesday, September 19th.
For those who may not be familiar with the organization, “New America Media is the country's first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 3,000 ethnic news organizations. Over 57 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries and to America through 3000+ ethnic media outlets, the fastest growing sector of American journalism. Founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996, NAM is headquartered in California with offices in New York and Washington DC, and partnerships with journalism schools to grow local associations of ethnic media.”
Incidentally, this writer (if memory serves me right) was in attendance at the meeting when New California Media (NCM), as it was initially known, was launched with just a handful of participants. Who knew then that it would one day morph into NAM?
The lobby where the reception was held before the formalities was reflective of the networking energy that NAM has accumulated over the years. Over 200 people, mainly ethnic and some mainstream journalists, representatives of business sponsors and our host PG&E attended the awards ceremony this year. Co-emcees Odette Alcazaren-Keely (NAM 2017 Awards Chair and Director) and Martin G. Reynolds (Co-Executive Director External Affairs and Funding Maynard Institute for Journalism Education) conducted the event proceedings in a very professional manner. Travis T. Kiyota (VP, California External Affairs, PG&E) made the introductory remarks and added his words of welcome. Lorena Hernandez, California Director Community Development at Comcast followed.
That segment was followed by an acknowledgement of the 2017 Awards Sponsors and Judges plus a tribute paid to the founding members and original supporters of the organization on stage. This was followed by a presentation of Merit Awards during which Pakistan Link was a recognized recipient in the “Outstanding Cross-Cultural Reporting” category for a December, 2016 article titled “Jews and Muslims Hold a Joint Vigil at the California State Capitol” written by this writer. It was nice for a change to be in the news instead of reporting it, but one cannot be distracted for too long from the prime purpose of journalism, which is to keep the public informed on news made by others! Congratulations are in order to all of the award winners this year.
The ethnic diversity amongst them was amazing but not unusual because the “New America” was mirrored here. And one would be remiss if the Ethnic Media Champions Regina Brown Wilson (California Black Media) Jarrette Fellows Jr. (Compton Herald) Dong Kim (Hyundae News) and Joseph Orozco (Hoopa Tribal Radio-KIDE, FM) did not get a mention in this article for their immense contributions to this collective effort.
And speaking of collective efforts, Sandy Close, Executive Director and Executive Editor (and primary Founder) of New America Media deserves kudos and applause for bringing all this ethnic media diversity together on one platform. Sandy has been in journalism for over 40 years now, and NAM was incubated under her leadership. To close the evening Sandy took to the stage and first presented a bouquet of flowers to Odette Keely for doing a great job organizing this event. She also thanked all the NAM staff for their effort and support. She looked back about 20 years ago and shared how after winning an award and thinking how she could use it. That question led to an idea and a lunch which brought the area ethnic media together. Sandy gave a special shout out to The San Francisco Foundation for the original seed funding for that Chinese meal. We would do it better together, was the spirit that has driven New America Media from the start. She talked about the struggle that journalism is facing today and how the ethnic media helps a significant part of California’s adult population that does not speak English and spoke of people moving to survive, migration, Diaspora. She said that she wanted to end the evening with a salute to all of us and that there had not been a dull day in 20 years. She added that the work is all that matters and we (ethnic media) have a future because we serve a community which might otherwise not connect to one another and not have a collective presence in the public culture.