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Volume 68, Isuue 80, Thursday, January 23, 2003

News

Hispanic pros address media jobs

By Ray Hafner
Senior Staff Writer

Some of Houstonis top Hispanic journalists told UH students Wednesday that they had better be talented in order to make it in the media business and that they should start trying to land a job right now.

"Donit wait until you graduate to start finding a job," Fox News anchor Mike Barajas said to more than 50 students at a Hispanic Media Association meeting.

"Regardless of your skin color, you have to be good," he said. Because newsrooms across the country actively seek diversity "it might get you an interview, but its not going to get you a job."

Barajas was one of many speaking to raise awareness of the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals, a local non-profit organization with goals of supporting Hispanics in news businesses, studying Hispanics in communications and promoting an accurate depiction of Hispanics in the media.

The association also boasts one other thing that really got students listening: scholarships.

Each yeah HAHMP (<I>www.hahmp.org<P>) doles out several $1,500 dollar scholarships and "we donit have enough good quality applicants," said ABCis Minerva Perez, a former president of HAHMP.

Marisa Lopez, senior broadcast journalism major, is president of HMA and practically got her start from an HAHMP scholarship.

After graduating from high school in 1999 she won a scholarship and at the awards gala got to meet many of Houstonis TV personalities.

"I was so excited to be there and meet all those people," she said. After joining HAHMP she began going to meetings and helping out. It eventually landed her an internship at Channel 2, thanks to Bill Balleza. 

Balleza personally walked her to the door of the intern coordinator and introduced her.

"It doesnit phase me anymore, working with these people," she says now.

Many of the speakers Wednesday stressed the importance of just getting your foot in the door.

"Itis very important to butter up that receptionist," said Jo Ann Zuniga, long-time Houston Chronicle reporter. Zuniga also said it was important for students to be bilingual.

After the introduction the professionals fielded questions. One student wondered about the effect being in the news business could have on a personis family life.

"They will suffer," said Perez.

"People who were willing to sacrifice everything included their wives," said Barajas. Barajas made the decision to stay a local anchor because it gave him some regularity in his job. 

Not to scare students too much Barajas said students had to do "some soul-searching" to figure out what was important to them.

"It is a brutally hard business," he said. "But if what you want to do is be in front of a camera then get yourself in front of the camera."

Barajas encouraged the students to join HAHMP and "find out what is going on in your business."

 Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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