My Platform for Vice President of NAHJ NYC

My name is Monica Castillo, and I am running to be the next Vice President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ New York City Chapter. I would like to share a few of my ideas that have inspired me to run for this position, as well as a bit more about my work and experience:

Living far away from my family has given me a deep appreciation for the sense of community NAHJ offers. We have many Latino journalists in the NYC chapter. Why should any of us be strangers? I’m hoping to increase the number of networking events so journalists have more opportunities to meet their representatives and each other.

NAHJ has given me many mentors over the years when I could find few in my field of film criticism. Because I know the benefits of having a close colleague you can talk to, I would like to see us develop a mentorship program for our chapter members. We can learn so much just by connecting with each other.

Covering last year’s Emmys in the press room for both online and social outlets.

The second thing I want the organization to work on is job opportunities and skill building for every stage of a journalist’s career. This will require listening to our members’ needs, and if we can’t provide the training, then we can be a resource for academic programs or other training opportunities like Poynter’s Leadership Academy. We should help our members achieve their career goals.

We should also recognize it’s not just students on the job hunt. Ahead of the next job fair, NAHJ NYC should hold resume critiques and mock interviews so that job seekers are ready for their one-on-one time with recruiters. For applicants looking to step up their social media presence, we can hold an assessment night that will give feedback and tips for better social strategies. Panels on perfecting your next pitch, applying for grants and navigating the workplace can help those already on a career path.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to see media diversity in action. This is why I would work with other neighboring journalist chapters to pool our resources for panels, mixers or workshops. Let’s meet with members from the National Association of Black Journalists, South Asian Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, Journalism and Women Symposium, Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Online News Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Possibly more, if our members are involved in other groups. As part of my focus on diversity, I would make sure we can serve as a bridge between journalists in digital, television, radio and print. Our board should reflect that variety as well.

As part of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute this past summer, we were the first combination class of NABJ and NAHJ members.

With the number of journalism programs in the city, we should ensure our local student groups feel supported by co-hosting events and including student chapter leaders in our planning process. As the recipient of a journalism stipend last year, I would like to see NAHJ NYC offer scholarships to local undergrad and grad students. Every bit of help we can offer can make a difference.

It’s a tough city to make it in, but if I may paraphrase, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” NAHJ NYC can be the support our community needs.

Taking judges’ questions at last year’s Media Shift VR Hackathon at USC Annenberg.

Over the past six years, I have worked as a critic, staff entertainment reporter, a freelancer, a social media manager and web assistant. I held leadership positions as the co-founder and co-chair of the Boston Online Film Critics Association and as a digital video manager during my master’s program at University of Southern California, where I was also the inaugural recipient of their film critic fellowship. Currently, I am the film writer for The New York Times’ Watching, a new site and newsletter that recommends TV shows and movies available to stream.

I’m no stranger to the work NAHJ accomplishes every year. For the first Latinas Regional Conference, I worked with then-Regional Director Ivette Davila-Richards to organize and moderate a panel on Latina Images in Media. We discussed harmful stereotypes in pop culture, and how reporters and writers can change those narratives.

(L to R) Janel Martinez, Trilce Ortiz, Andrea Gompf and myself at the Latinas Region 2 Conference after our panel.

In addition to the experience and enthusiasm I bring to the board, I have already spoken to members of my outlet, The New York Times, for their support. The Latino Network here has pledged resources to NAHJ on my behalf. It is important that we have representatives from several different outlets in order to expand our shared knowledge, resources and capabilities for the coming year.

Thank you for your consideration.