By Daniel Muñoz
San Francisco On November 18th at the New California Media’s (NCM) annual EXPO and Awards banquet, dubbed “the Ethnic Pulitzers” by the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, at the Westin St. Francis hotel, La Prensa San Diego was honored with a Special Achievement Award as a “Bridge Builder” for their biweekly column “La Prensa Persa.”
The awards banquet honored 19 ethnic media journalist in categories ranging from investigative reporting to health and environmental coverage.
La Prensa San Diego was given a Special Recognition Award for embodying the ideals of the New California Media with “La Prensa Persa” which is a cross cultural exchange of ideas and stories.
“La Prensa Persa” was an idea that developed after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Ramin Moshiri, an immigrant from Iran, approached the editor of La Prensa San Diego, Daniel H. Munoz, Jr, to talk about the fallout of the tragedy on his community.
Moshiri expressed that for the first time as a citizen of the United States he felt like a minority. Iranian Americans, Arab Americans and other immigrants, expecially Muslims, were being eyed as suspects and treated with disdain. Moshiri, an engineer and president of the Iranian American Professional Association, asked his friend Daniel if he would speak before his group about how Hispanics dealt with being treated as if they lived in the margins of society. Muñoz enlisted his father, Daniel Muñoz, Sr, a veteran Chicano activist and founder of the 30-year old La Prensa San Diego.
Daniel Muñoz Sr., stressed the importance of media in shaping thought. Moshiri liked the idea of creating a newspaper but thought it wouldn’t happen soon.
The community was facing the Patriot Act and special registration of Iranian new-comers, a process that saw hundreds detained while others disappeared for days. Muñoz offered space in La Prensa, and that was the birth of “La Prensa Persa” a forum that might eventually become its own newspaper.
La Prensa Persa like all bridges, goes two ways. “I thought it would be educational for the Hispanic community to see how another culture addresses the same issues that we have been facing,” says Daniel Muñoz Jr. “It would also expand the possibility of working together to address these issues.”
Moshiri started La Prensa Persa but he soon handed over the reigns of the column to Kathy Hadizadeh who for the past year has continued to bring the column to the readers of La Prensa San Diego, addressing common issues and putting a human face to the Persian community.
The New California Media consists of over 600 ethnic media partners in California with the goal of working together to raise the visibility of their news content. Their editorial exchange brings the stories of more than three dozen ethnic media participants to wider audience their own and those of general market media, state Sandy Close, Executive Director of NCM.
“At a time of aggressive ownership consolidation and media homogenization, ethnic media’s great value is that we are embedded in the communities we serve,” stated Close. “We, too, face the mega-merger challenge. But the hunger for voice and visibility is so strong that ethnic media continue to multiply.”