The Washington Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and the Washington Association of Black Journalists (WABJ) honored veteran TV journalist Maureen Bunyan and senior Reporter at WAMU, the NPR news station in Washington, Armando Trull at a reception celebrating diversity held on Wednesday, April 19 at the National Press Club.
NAHJ DC Secretary and longtime National Press Club member Aileen Schlef opened the inaugural event describing her fight for diversity and noted the importance of minority journalism organizations. She told attendees about her activism work in the 60’s and 70’s and reminded them that gains made during that period “can be easily taken away from us.”
“Let’s celebrate us and take us seriously,” Aileen said. “Consider our organizations your extended families, your safe haven. And those of us with longer histories, we still have our hands on the torch and are with you.”
The President of the National Press Club Jeffrey Ballou, the first African-American male to lead the organization, welcomed attendees and urged members of both organizations to join the effort to uphold freedom of the press.
“In this age when people are trying to undermine the core of the Constitution, you have to be there to fight for it,” Ballou said. “We need you to be a part of the action because it’s worth it.”
President of NAHJ DC Melissa Macaya and President of WABJ Donna Walker presented the awards to Trull and Bunyan, recognizing their many career milestones and efforts to help advance diversity in news. Both journalists have left an important mark in D.C. and beyond. Macaya thanked them for paving the way for many journalists of color.
“In the hectic world of journalism, we sometimes forget to stop and honor those who have paved the way for us,” Macaya said. “We are here tonight to celebrate them – two outstanding journalists who are not only excellent professionals, but are role models and mentors.”
Upon receiving the award, Trull, who has actively covered Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years, told attendees that journalism is not a job, but a calling. Trull’s Emmy-award winning reporting, in both English and Spanish, has been seen, heard, and read by millions.
“I care about making a difference,” Trull said. “You have to go in thinking how you will make a difference with each story you do. If you want to make an impact, you have to divorce what your job is from what your mission is. I challenge you all, especially young journalists, to not be afraid to do the stories that make a difference.”
Bunyan, who has been a veteran TV journalist in Washington since 1973 and is one of the founders of NABJ, urged the audience to listen to their hearts and use their work to make a positive impact. “When your heart says ‘you have to do something about something’ find a way to do something about it,” Bunyan said. “Stand up, speak up and keep going.”
Bunyan noted her and Trull’s similar immigrant roots. Bunyan is an immigrant of Aruba and Trull of Cuba. Through their journalism work in the United States, they aimed to advance the freedom of the press they did not experience in their home countries.
This was the inaugural “Recognizing Journalism Excellence: Celebrating D.C.’s diverse voices” awards reception. NAHJ DC and WABJ plan to make it a yearly tradition and hope other minority journalism groups join. Macaya discussed the projects of the D.C. Journalism Diversity Coalition, of which NAHJ DC and WABJ are a part of. The most noteworthy of these initiatives is the Washington Journalism Job Fair which has been held for four years to hire more diverse candidates in top media outlets.