Friday, October 19, 2007

NAHJ Urges Reporter’s Reinstatement

NAHJ urges Dallas' KDFW-TV Fox 4 to reinstate reporter Rebecca Aguilar immediately. Aguilar was suspended after interviewing a 70-year-old man who shot and killed two burglars at his business. She was suspended after a deluge of calls and criticism by bloggers. NAHJ affirms that journalistic principles, not special-interest driven community response, should determine if a reporter stays on the air.

UNITY Journalists of Color statement of support
Aguilar's first interview since suspension - click and scroll down
An alternative weekly's commentary supporting Aguilar

What do you think?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Risk/reward. She could have slightly altered the phrasing and been given another award. Unfortunately she aggressively pushed a few of the wrong buttons of viewers. She gets a brief vacation and comes back a little bit wiser. The old man was obviously torn up about the situation. She should have left him alone when he requested it. How about if that were your Dad? Would that change how you would feel? I think so. My 2 cents.

October 19, 2007 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your organization is about as credible as making up the National Association of White Journalists.

October 19, 2007 at 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isnt the National Association Of Hispanic Journalists a special interest group?

On your website it says "Journalistic principles, not special-interest driven community response, should determine if a reporter stays on the air."

This coming from a special interest group? Doesn't make much sense.

For the record I believe she crossed the line of journalistic principles with her ruthless and VERY aggressive behavior in this interview. She doesn't work for the National Enquirer! That is the reason she should be terminated from FOX 4. Also, she should apologize face to face on live TV to the elderly gentleman she ambushed. I still will never watch another news cast that Rebecca is a part of.

October 19, 2007 at 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I checked the "special interest driven community" is what pretty much pays the reporters salaries. Ratings are everything in this business and if FOX 4's ratings continue to drop as a result of this, bye bye Rebecca!

October 19, 2007 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: I’m a proud NAHJ member. But…

This story reeked of tabloid journalism at its worst (or best?). The man has not been charged with a crime. (A fact that was not revealed until the end of the piece). It seemed to me the reporter was on a mission to slant the story no matter what to have the man appear to be a trigger-happy gun-toter when, in fact, he was well within his right to protect his property and himself. (He lives at his place of business). He did not break any laws. So what was the point of this story?

From what I can tell, the station has not suspended the story’s producer and news director. Someone had to OK this story for air. They should pay the price as well. While I agree that news organizations should remain steadfast while upholding its high journalistic principles, such a stance is not required in this case. This was just plain bad journalism. This should have never aired.

October 19, 2007 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

What she did is just plain stupid. When the journalism lose its common sense. Was she just that hard up for a story, or is she just stupid. She could have told it from a more human angle, good guy survives, or even what happens when a good person is pushed to far what do we have to do to protect those around us. Instead she attempts to make him the villian. Moron. as a hispanic i'm embarressed

October 19, 2007 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Xlr8torZ28 said...

I for one, were disgusted when I first watched the interview. And to treat an elderly person like that, especially one that served his country, is even worse. Rebecca, who have you served other than the hispanics and yourself? Would you have been just as aggressive if he had been hispanic?
It cannot be made to sound better than what it is. The tone in your voice during the interview, in which you harassed and elderly man, says it all. You being hispanic should appreciate the most, our freedoms and way of life in America and the rights we are given by our government, even to protect ourselves and our property from people like Mr. Gannon, who was a second time criminal. I hope you are permenently terminated, and used as an example for other journalists in "what not to do".

October 19, 2007 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger SoyChingon!TasCabrone! said...

You can attempt to uphold YOUR special interests all you want by demanding that slimey woman be reinstated but, as a member of the hispanic community I am not going to support her and I am also going to remove support from you if you do. I will continue to push for all who support the station financially to remove their ads from the station and I will tell all my wealthy friends who have in the past helped me to support you to put their money elsewhere.
She could never make me ashamed of my heritage but, I am ashamed of hers and if you support her then I am ashamed of you as well.

October 19, 2007 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger SoyChingon!TasCabrone! said...

Having now read the entire body of your letter to fox4 I will say outright that you are liars. You want to spin the facts and we in Texas are not so stupid as you damn Yankee watered down Mexicans think we are. One look at the video tells it all. There is one more thing you have not considered. With all the RAZA here in Texas (we are the majority) don't you think if we thought that bruja was wrongly targeted we would have hit the fox4 with everything we've got. All you are doing by supporting her when we will not is proving the racistas correct when they say that we will support our own no matter how wrong they are. She was wrong and you need to stay out of Texas bussiness if you are going to make our people look bad. This is simple. She has lost her crerdibility with the viewing public and we don't want to watch her reports anymore. The question you must now ask yourself is how are you going to maintain your credibility when you are going against the wishes of the Tejano community.

October 19, 2007 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Steven Anderson said...

Two thoughts:

First, how ironic that you would criticize "special-interest driven community response" as suitable cause for the disciplinary action against Aguilar. As others have noted, it makes it easy to dismiss anything else you may have to say, inasmuch as you are a special-interest group yourselves.

Second, if Aguilar's conduct was, as you describe it, "professional," you all are due for a trip to the woodshed.

It's disgusting that the interview was conducted, even more so that it was aired. Aguilar and whomever else was involved in putting that piece to yellow journalism on the air all deserve to the scorn that is being heaped upon them.

A dose of humility and an act of contrition are more appropriate than a comically outrageous defense of the indefensible. Shame on the NAHJ.

October 19, 2007 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Dear Mr. Olmeda,

I just read your letter to KDFW urging the reinstatement of “reporter” Rebecca Aguilar.

This has to be a joke, right?

You urge reinstatement “for the sake of good journalism”. Did you even see the broadcast? You call that “good journalism”? Ambushing a 70-year old vet and asking him if he was trigger happy and if he wanted to kill? When he was defending his own life, livelihood, and property after forty-two calls to the police?

If you want good journalism, have Aguilar interview the families of the criminals. I think the public would want to know how their lives of crime affected their families. I’d like to see the families break down in tears. I’d like to know why these career criminals chose to die while breaking into a poor old man’s home instead of getting a job to support themselves and their families. I’d like Aguilar to interview the Dallas Police Department and demand answers about why Mr. Watson had to resort to killing his attackers. Why didn’t the police respond? Why didn’t the police serve and protect Mr. Watson?

It’s really sad to me that you made this a race issue. You lowered yourself to the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton by defending a person who is clearly in the wrong, simply because they are the same race. When Michael Vick was under fire for having dogs fight to the death in his home, the subsequent backlash had nothing to do with his race, just like this situation has nothing to do with Aguilar’s Hispanic heritage. I think you should choose your battles more carefully, for the sake of all Hispanics.

I strongly urge you to retract your demands for Aguilar’s reinstatement as soon as possible.

October 19, 2007 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger LawDog said...

What Ms. Aguilar did was despicable, and to attempt to justify her behavior by cloaking it in "journalism" is even more so.

To ambush a 70 year-old man already suffering the effects of not one, but two critical incidents, so that you may accuse him of being "trigger happy" and "wanting to kill" -- is not journalism.

When your victim -- excuse me, interview -- starts crying (as she so piquantly commented on) and trembling (as the camera showed even after he requested that it be turned off), it is jolly well time to go chase a different ambulance.

No. Rebecca Aguilar gets no pass from me. If Fox4 reinstates her, I will never watch that channel again, and I will send letters to their major sponsors telling them so -- and why.

This interview by Rebecca Aguilar is proof that reporters are every bit as bad as the jokes and the rumours state. Supporting her furthers the proof.

Y'all may want to keep that in mind.

October 20, 2007 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger LawDog said...

By-the-by, the Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics posted on their homepage:

The section of the Code of Ethics -- "Minimize Harm" -- is particularly interesting. It reads:

Journalists should:

— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
— Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
— Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Highlighting is mine.

Might be that Ms. Aguilar forgot these standards of ethics in her pursuit of a story.

Of course, might also be that Ms. Aguilar never heard of them.

October 20, 2007 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I agree. Journalistic principles should govern here. Unfortunately, journalists don't appear to have any, or at least don't enforce them. That being the case, it's nice to see the community stepping up to the plate.

October 20, 2007 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Hugo Anaya said...

I can't state my outrage of your blind support of Ms. Aguilar, or the irony of your special interest group slamming the legitimacy of special interest groups, any better than has already been posted here. I hope the NAHJ can redeem itself after this, and Ms. Aguilar learns a lesson about journalistic ethics.

October 20, 2007 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Alex Gonzalez said...

Rebecca Aguilar did a fantastic job.

Asking tough questions is in a journalist job description, and Aguilar did just that.

She interviewed with journalistic integrity. There was a story and it had to be told. The man she interviewed killed two men, and shot a third. Someone needed to ask the simple question: Why?

If the man really did not want to get interviewed, he could have kept his lips shut. The man obviously wanted to express his side of the story.

It's clear many of the people posting negative blogs about Aguilar have never compiled a news story.

NAHJ picked this fight wisely. Dallas KDFW-TV Fox 4, please reinstate Rebecca Aguilar.

October 20, 2007 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger DFWHispanic said...

Our Dallas-Fort Worth chapter's blog "El Reportero" is closely monitoring the situation and just posted a few more bulletins, including the Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News opinions on this story.

Realistically, there are two sides to every story and many bloggers have only read one site and speculated on the issue. So before throwing "ignorant" views, please attempt to read both Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News opinion-ed pieces.

Let's really not be "trigger-happy" on our thoughts until we know the "whole" situation.

October 22, 2007 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger DFWHispanic said...

oops here is our

October 22, 2007 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger 10% said...

"If the man really did not want to get interviewed, he could have kept his lips shut. The man obviously wanted to express his side of the story." - Alex Gonzales

So, when he said he wasn't interested in talking, you think he didn't really mean it?

How about when he told her to turn off the camera, did that make you think he wanted to open up to the viewing public?

How about when she stands in the way of his door, effectively trapping him in that location, would you consider that good interviewing techniques?

The man did nothing wrong, he broke no law. Yet he had to face accusations from someone who wouldn't let him leave and continuously provoked him, to the point where he broke down. That isn't the news, it's blatant sensationalism. Then again, "If it bleeds it leads!" isn't just a slogan to some.

October 22, 2007 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Reportera said...

Everyone seems to think Rebecca was ambushing the man. Have you considered that the man told her where he was going to be. Have you considered that a viewer called the assignment editor and he sent her out. I know the newsroom goes crazy when we want to get someone on camera. As a reporter I know there is a lot of behind the scenes calls, contacts, information we collect etc that goes on before a story airs. If we knew Rebecca's side we would be more wise to call her names and put a bad light on her. Second of all Yes the producers, assignment editors and whoever reads her story should be to blame. If she air the video this is bad light on the station--who's policy ok's this. Its not about ethnicity---its about journalism. I too am a member of NAHJ but they too have failed me in other instances, so we don't always see eye to eye.

October 22, 2007 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger OlmedaNAHJ said...

A few comments.

First, we did not come to Ms. Aguilar's defense because of her ethnicity. We came to her defense because she was singled out for a punishment that was both extreme and unevenly applied.

Second, this was not an ambush. Mr. Walton told Ms. Aguilar where he would be, and she told him she would catch up with him there.

Third, Ms. Aguilar did not block Mr. Walton from leaving by standing in his doorway. View the video again, from the beginning, and you can clearly see he had two opportunities to shut his door and be on his way without further comment before Ms. Aguilar gets on the inside of the door. She could only have gotten there if he agreed to keep talking to her.

Another point: journalists ask questions to get the subjects to respond, not to reflect their personal biases. The only way to get Mr. Walton to say he's not a trigger happy person who wanted to shoot to kill was to ask him if he was that type of person. Like lawyers, journalists sometimes know the answers to questions before they are asked. The point is not to learn new information, but to get the subject of the interview to express the answer in his or her own words. Mr. Walton did so, quite eloquently. He should be proud of his answer, and Ms. Aguilar should not be ashamed of her question.

Rafael Olmeda

October 23, 2007 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger bhunstad said...


the president of the NAHJ's response clearly shows where rebecca's lack of decency stems from.

at least this associations true colors are now very, very clear.

i'll be keeping a wary eye out for it.

ms aguilar needs to apply for a job as a waitress, soon.

October 24, 2007 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger mariposa said...

As a longtime NAHJ member, I must strongly disagree with our president's statement and the decision to take a stand on this case.
First of all, NAHJ is - or should be - first and foremost a journalism organization that stands for the highest ethics and standards. To defend a reporter who used questionable methods to get an interview, then asked questions designed to provoke a certain response is just plain wrong. We should not be defending that type of sensationalist journalism. Good journalists go into an interview in order to gather the most accurate, and informative answers that will shed light on a story or issue - not to get soundbites that will snare ratings.
Second, and more importantly, there are much more immportant issues that we should be taking on as a journalism organization. At a time when the business is changing, layoffs are rampant, and minority representation at news organizations are dropping or staying stagnant, don't you think our energy would be better spent elsewhere?

October 24, 2007 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger OlmedaNAHJ said...

NAHJ is still at the forefront of the fight on media consolidation and advocating for an effective federal shield law. We're still on target and not allowing this issue, on which we respectfully disagree, to slow us down in our overall mission.

October 24, 2007 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Xlr8torZ28 said...

this is funny... The people on Rebeccas side say, "he told her where he was going"... did he say "meet me there"... hell no. She made the decision to go "seek" him out instead of asking him to set up an interview, which he didnt want, thats why he said "his plate was full" when she asked on the phone! Dont be so damn ignorant, and make her apologize to him. It would look way better on her part.

October 24, 2007 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Xlr8torZ28 said...

Oh, almost forgot... If he was so willing.. then why did he almost close the door on her when he was trying to get away?

October 24, 2007 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger noaguilar said...

Now she acts like a victim and its everyone else's fault at the station?


What a completely unapologetic, clueless person.

"Nothing was done about my protection. My suspension was a priority over my safety."


Call the cops 41 times just like Mr. Walton did. You're entitled to the same protection he was afforded.

Oh wait, since you know where the gun shop is, why don't you just go buy a shotgun.

October 25, 2007 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Digger said...

Aguilar's recent statements were BS. Quit whining about what did or didn't happen to her superiors for letting the story air. It was her vile mouth that got her into this mess. I didn't hear one ounce of remorse in her interview. We won't let up until we hear her publicly apologize to Mr. Walton. And I'm beginning to think Olmeda has some backtracking to do also.

October 25, 2007 at 1:08 AM  
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