Chiecchi recognized in the NAHJ Hall of Fame


Adrian Broaddus

UTEP professor Eraldo Chiecchi will be inducted into the NAHJ Hall of Fame.

Mike Flores , Staff Reporter

For the second consecutive year, UTEP will have another one of its professors inducted into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Hall of Fame with multimedia professor Eraldo “Dino” Chiecchi receiving the 2017 recognition.

UTEP is the only institution of higher learning to have two faculty members inducted into the NAHJ Hall of Fame.

Since NAHJ first began inducting people from all over the world to the Hall of Fame in 2000, most schools have not had one representative, but for UTEP to have two speaks volumes on the growth of Hispanic journalists in El Paso.

The other five candidates to be selected to the 2017 Hall of Fame class alongside Chiecchi are Andres Cediel, a journalist and documentary producer; Jodi Hernandez, an NBC Bay Area reporter; Federico Subervi, a trailblazer of diversity; and Pulitzer Prize winner Nancy Rivera Brooks.

“To be with the people that have been selected now and previously—we’re talking about some of the most elite journalists that are in the country. It is a very prestigious group and it’s amazing to me,” Chiecchi said. “This is hallowed ground. It’s really hard to get my arms around this.”

The five will be inducted into the NAHJ Hall of Fame on Sept. 9 in Anaheim, California, during the annual NAHJ national convention.

Chiecchi first joined NAHJ in 1987, and attended his first convention in 1988. Since then he has been very involved with the program, having been a former president of the NAHJ and a treasurer for them since 2012. Since attending his first convention in Dallas, Texas, Chiecchi still tries to attend every convention that the NAHJ has to offer.

NAHJ has taught Chiecchi maturity, brought him many great contacts, taught him how to build important relationships, how to come out of his shell, taught him how to conquer public speaking and most importantly to him, to grow his career. The contacts and people Chiecchi has met helped him guide students to internships and a path to start their careers.

The current President of NAHJ, Brandon Benavides, made his very first phone call to Chiecchi from the five Hall of Famers for 2017.

“Brandon told me ‘your years of service, the things you have accomplished and continue to do—the board thought you were the perfect selection at the perfect time. I was surprised and shocked; I was not expecting it. I’m extremely honored,” Chiecchi said. “This is an accomplishment I deeply appreciate.”

Being a 30-year veteran in the newspaper industry, Chiecchi has built up his resume since he attended UTEP—where he graduated in 1985. His career began at The Prospector and the El Paso Herald-Post, and then he went on to work in reporting and management positions at the Associated Press, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong—a place he said changed his entire life and career.

Now looking back at his career, Chiecchi’s biggest advice to young journalists is to take every opportunity that comes your way and be willing to learn every day.

“All the years of doing all that I’ve done, especially with Hispanic journalists’ organizations, it means a big deal to me that someone said, ‘we’ve been watching what you’re doing.’ But I realize this isn’t a situation of a job completed; it’s a job still in progress. There is still much work to be done.” Chiecchi said. “We still have to get more Hispanics in the newsroom, better pay, better working conditions and we need to reach parity in our newsrooms everywhere.”

Chiecchi has put all his time and effort into advocating for minority groups such as the NAHJ. He is the founding member of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. He served with the Austin Hispanic Journalists, worked with the Hispanic group here in El Paso and even served on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists when he was a student.

Now as a professor—and putting aside his newspaper career—Chiecchi saw the opportunity to teach the younger generations of journalists once again. He was first a professor in San Antonio in the early 1990s at Incarnate Word.

When he came back to El Paso to work for the El Paso Times, the  communication department chair Stacey Sowers called Chiecchi and offered him a teaching position at UTEP.

Chiecchi is set to become the executive editor of Borderzine, UTEP’s bilingual student publication and capstone course for journalism majors. He is also UTEP’s NAHJ club advisor.

The NAHJ is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the U.S and dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry.

“I believe in what journalists do, I believe in the cause. I consider it my calling, and part of the calling includes covering the communities the way they should be,” Chiecchi said. “I’m not convinced that we can do it without having proper representation in the newsrooms. We have to cover the communities fairly and accurately.”