WASHINGTON — Several members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists executive board met on Monday afternoon with Helen Aguirre Ferré, the White House Director of Media Affairs as part of ongoing conversations to guarantee that the new administration continues the White House tradition of access to Latino media and the community.
"NAHJ is taking a proactive approach with the administration. We want to make sure that we have access to the White House and that our members have access to the White House," NAHJ president Brandon Benavides told NBC Latino.
"They were very welcoming. We also spoke about access to the vice president's office, and that is something we are working on. The administration is very interested in getting more media involved into the White House. We will continue to work to make sure we have access to the White House, including briefings between the White House and NAHJ members as in the past."
When the Trump administration took over, White House's web pages - including in Spanish - were scrubbed, prompting criticism that the new administration was not bringing back Spanish-language pages. Benavides said he was assured that is not the case. "The previous web pages were archived, so they're starting from scratch, but they are working on a Spanish-language website and it is in process."
One office not returning in a Trump White House is the Office of Specialty Media, which focused on Latinos and other ethnic press, and had been a part of previous administrations from both sides of the political aisle. "I've taken a very different position on this," Aguirre Ferré told NBC Latino. "I didn't like the specialty media category. Specialty media is always pushed back, pushed to the side. It's all media, whether you deliver your information in English or Spanish, I believe we all belong at the same table. We're trying to bring everyone together."
Aguirre Ferré, a former reporter in Miami, says it's a different approach to ensure greater access for all media as there is no one particular issue affecting just one community.
"What's good for the Latino community is good for the African American community, and other communities. Fundamentally we all want better schools for our children, we all want good healthcare, we all want the opportunity to live in peace and freedom, and I think whether you say it in English or Spanish, or you are white, black or Asian, we all feel the same."
Benavides said they got the meeting faster than with previous administrations. "She understands the press; she used to be a reporter herself."