Meeting the Moment — CA Ethnic Media Front and Center at Expo & Awards Event

Ethnic media from across California gathered in Sacramento August 31 to meet with state leaders and decision makers and to celebrate outstanding journalism in the sector during the 2023 Ethnic Media Expo & Awards event.

“We met the moment,” said EMS Executive Director Sandy Close, adding that now comes the next part—to continue the conversation with leaders in the state capital.

The event was co-hosted by EMS and California Black Media. “Ethnic media need a presence at the table,” said CBM Executive Director Regina Brown Wilson. “For the first time we’re coming together to meet and brainstorm with decision makers about how to build more inclusive communications.”

Wilson noted that when communication campaigns get planned and implemented at the state or local level, “the initiative lies with us.”

Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Government Operations Secretary Amy Tong and Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin were among the speakers and panelists during the daylong event.

Michelle Baass, Director of the Department of Health Care Services, Susan DeMarois, Director of the Department of Aging, Becky Monroe, deputy director of Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs at the Civil Rights Department, and Marcela Ruiz, director of the Office of Equity for California Department of Social Services also shared their priority issues and the challenges of reaching and engaging California’s diverse communities.

“This event aimed to build a direct channel of communications with the state to bridge a vital information gap between government and an increasingly diverse public,” says Close. “The response from both sectors is inspiring. Ethnic media came from as far away as El Centro in Imperial County and Hoopa in Humboldt — representing both long time veterans and emerging outlets serving newcomer audiences.”

“We met the moment.”

EMS Executive Director Sandy Close.

Leaders from community based organizations working to build stronger ties with ethnic media on campaigns such as Stop the Hate and health care access disparities were also on hand. US Census Director Robert Santos gave opening remarks on the demographics behind the enduring power of ethnic media.

“I’m excited to participate in this ground-breaking event and share what we learned from our communication campaigns, including the 2020 Census and our pandemic response, and the important role that ethnic media played” in those efforts, says Senior Advisor on Civic Engagement and Strategic Partnerships for the Office of the Governor, Maricela Rodriguez.

Check out the program guide for more information on the day’s events.

Photo credits: Robert Maryland/CBM

And the Winner Is…

A record number of entries — close to 300 — were submitted for this year’s California Ethnic Media Awards, covering print, broadcast, English and in-language outlets across California.

The 26 judges, who were hand-picked for their cultural and in-language fluency, ranged from professors of journalism to writers, editors, researchers and policy makers from across the state.

“Original,” “extremely unique,” “a critical examination,” “comprehensive”: just some of the comments elicited by this year’s entries.

See the full list of the finalists.

If ethic media is not paying attention, mainstream media is not paying attention.

CA State Controller Malia M. Cohen

CA State Controller Malia M. Cohen opened the awards portion of the event with an impromptu speech. “Ethnic media is closing the gap,” she told the audience, “giving voice to people who sometimes feel invisible.”

“If ethic media is not paying attention, mainstream media is not paying attention,” she told the crowd to loud applause.

The ‘Jewel in the crown’

The winners of the 2023 Ethnic Media Expo & Awards are:

In-language reporting

Reporting in English

Photo credits: Robert Maryland/CBM

“The awards are the jewel in the crown of an event that brings ethnic media representatives together with decision makers and their communication experts for the first time,” says Close. “The mission driving ethnic media is to produce better reporting for their audiences – having 300 submissions speaks to that aspiration.”