At the 25th anniversary of its founding, the Dallas-Fort Worth Network of Hispanic Communicators inducted three people — Gilbert Bailón, publisher and editor of Al Dia; Gloria Campos, WFAA-TV Channel 8 news anchor; and Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism — into the group’s newly formed Hall of Fame. The three were honored for their crucial roles in the organization and development of the group.
In 2007, the Hispanic Communicators inducted Elena Cortez, longtime member and chief financial officer. A look at the hall of fame inductees:
Gilbert Bailón began his career at The Dallas Morning News as a reporter in 1986. He later held positions as assistant metro editor, day city editor, metro editor and assistant managing editor/metro. In January 1996, he was named deputy managing editor for metro, state and business coverage. A year later, he was named executive editor.
Bailón, who served as president of the Network of Hispanic Communicators from 1989 to1990, was instrumental in organizing and establishing the Network’s Hispanic Media Fair, which sought to reach out to Hispanic community and make the media more accessible to readers and viewers.
In January 1998, Bailón became vice president and executive editor of The News. In June 2003, he was named president and editor of Al Día, a Spanish-language daily serving North Texas. And in April 2004, he became publisher and editor of Al Día. In September 2004, Bailón received the prestigious ñ leadership award given by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Bailón previously worked as a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Los Angeles Daily News, San Diego Union and Kansas City Star. Among his reporting awards were: the 1988 Katie Award for Best Series and the 1987 Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Award for Team Effort for immigration coverage.
Bailón is past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and served for a number of years on the boards of NAHJ and Unity Journalists of Color, a consortium of the four national minority journalist associations. He also belongs to the National Association of Minority Media Executives. Bailón is a former member of the board of directors of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Bailón was on the nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prizes for 2000-2001 and served in 1993-94. He is currently serving a two-year term as NAHJ representative on the Unity Journalists of Color board.
He was selected as the outstanding journalism graduate at the University of Arizona in 1981 and earned his master’s degree in American History from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1992. Bailón was twice named “One of the Top 100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business magazine.
Gloria Campos joined WFAA-TV in 1984 as a general assignments reporter. She had been the first Hispanic female reporter and weekday anchor at KGBT-TV in her South Texas hometown of Harlingen.
In Dallas, she has become one of the most visible Hispanics in the community as a news anchor on Channel 8. She also has developed an extensive network of community organizations that she has devoted much time, effort and money, becoming a role model for many in the Hispanic community.
She serves on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of North Texas, on the foundation board of the Press Club of Dallas, an advisory board member to the Crystal Charities Ball, advisory board member of Wednesday’s Child Benefit Corp., and is a member of the College of Fine Arts and Communications advisory council at Texas State University in San Marcos. In 2004, she established the Gloria Campos Endowed Scholarship Fund at the university.
Campos joined the Network of Hispanic Communicators in the late 1980s, and immediately became a key person in the organization’s efforts to raise scholarship monies. Over the years, she has become the Network’s largest individual donor for scholarship funds.
“I think as a true American success story, it is my responsibility and duty to ensure that there are plenty of qualified, educated young Latinos to be the next generation of communicators,” Campos said. “The success of our scholarship fund is very important to me, given Latinos’ poor graduation rates and of course, our terrible high school drop-out rate. I believe the DFW Network of Hispanic Communicators and NAHJ are helping create a lasting legacy that benefits all Latinos.”
Some other awards and recognitions Campos has received include 2002 Mother of the Year (one of 3 recipients) from Dallas Can! Academy; the 2001 Buck Marryat award for career achievement from the Press Club of Dallas; the 2001 Woman of the Year award from Les Femmes du Monde; the Lifetime Achievement award from Women in Film, in 1997; the 1995 Women Helping Women award from the Women’s Center of Dallas; the 1994 Association of Radio and TV Women “TV Personality of the Year” award; and the 1991 recipient of Girls Inc.’s “She Knows Where She’s Going” Award.
Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez spent more than 17 years working on major daily news outlets including newspapers, television and wire services. Her most recent journalism job was as the Border Bureau Chief for The Dallas Morning News, covering the U.S.-Mexico border out of a one-person bureau in El Paso.
She earned her Ph.D. in mass communication as a Freedom Forum doctoral fellow from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August 1998. Her master’s is from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (1977) and her bachelor’s in journalism is from the University of Texas at Austin (1976).
Rivas-Rodriguez became involved with the Network of Hispanic Communicators in 1982 when she came to Dallas to work as a reporter for WFAA-TV. At the time she already had been working with the committee organizing the first National Hispanic Media Conference, which took place in 1982. That meeting eventually led to the formation in 1984 of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
In 1983, Rivas-Rodriguez conceived and organized the DFW Network’s first high school writing contest. While the first effort was a modest event, the contest has continued for more than 20 years and the Network has added a substantial scholarship program. She also served as president of the DFW Network from 1984 to 1985.
In 1988, when the National Association of Hispanic Journalists had its national convention in Dallas, Rivas-Rodriguez spearheaded the first Latino Reporter, a convention newspaper produced by college students and professionals. That conference newspaper has become the model for other newspaper industry organizations, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.
In 1999, Rivas-Rodriguez initiated the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project, a multi-faceted effort to document the lives and times of Latinos during that time of war. The project has included a conference, an edited volume of academic manuscripts, a play, educational materials, a book that summarizes hundreds interviews.
Rivas-Rodriguez said she has been involved in organizations of Latino journalists since she was in college.
“From that time, I saw a great need to assure that we incorporate more Latino content into the news media and that we make sure that there are enough Latinos in the newsrooms who care to do so,” Rivas-Rodriguez said. “I knew that we could serve as role models and motivators. But I also have always felt that we journalists … need to speak up and insist on change and improvement. Nobody will do us any favors, we need to make sure to make our case.”
Elena Cortez has been an integral part of the Network of Hispanic Communicators for nearly 20 years.
“I find it a little funny because I’m not even a working journalist and never have been,” said Cortez, the Network’s chief financial officer and the 2007 inductee into the organization’s Hall of Fame.
Ever since she joined the group, not long after the Network hosted the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 1988, Cortez has been a tireless worker, devoting countless of hours helping with the yearly writing contest, scholarship brunches and just about any event that called for volunteer help.
These days, even though she now lives in her hometown of Beeville, south of San Antonio, Cortez continues to serve as an officer in the organization and participates in any way she can. It’s the kind of involvement she has always enjoyed and cherished.
“I’ve always thought that if you isolate yourself, and don’t do anything, life get dull and stressful,” Cortez said. “By keeping busy with organizations like the Network, I’ve get to meet new people all the time who have different and interesting jobs. It keeps everything fresh for me.”
A native of Beeville, Cortez said she went to work for Southwestern Bell as an operator shortly after graduating from high school. She said chose that career path after deciding she didn’t want to work at a “five-and-dime store” and realizing that civil service jobs were difficult to get.
“I was the first Hispanic the company had in that office,” she said. “The only other minority was the janitor, who was an African-American.”
She moved to Dallas in 1984 to take another job with the phone company, one that included “media distribution” in her title. People automatically assumed she was involved in contact with news media, when in fact it was more of an “internal post office” for the company.
Around 1989, Cortez read an item in Mercedes Olivera’s column in The Dallas Morning News about a meeting of the Network of Hispanic Communicators. She decided to attend, and has been a major part of the organization ever since.
“It’s been great for me. Most people don’t get the opportunity to actually meet the people who write for newspapers and are on TV,” she said, adding that the contacts she’s developed have helped her with volunteer work she’s done for several other nonprofit organizations.
When she retired from Southwestern Bell, after 25 years, she began working for La Voz de Anciano, an organization that helps elderly Hispanics. She worked at La Voz for eight years, before returning to Beeville.
Cortez said she enjoys running into young journalists and professionals throughout the state and recognizing that the once were Network contest or scholarship winners.