By Will Norton-Mosher
Norman Solomon, journalist and author of War Made Easy, received the third annual Ruben Salazar Journalism Award in the UC Santa Cruz College Nine/Ten Multipurpose Room, on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
Solomon told City on a Hill Press that he appreciated the influence that Salazar had on his career.
“People who live their convictions through their work are very relevant to all of us,” he said. “We’re living in a time of war, a time of demagoguery in high places, and we need to be conscious of what’s going on in the world.”
Salazar, the late Chicano journalist, was slain covering the National Chicano Moratorium march when a police tear gas canister fired from close range struck his head while he was inside a bar.
Jose Reyas-Olivas created the award to honor journalists, coinciding with the elimination of the journalism minor at UCSC in 2003 due to budget cuts.
“We started it knowing that the journalism minor was going to be reduced and basically eliminated, so that sparked some interest in me and some colleagues in the irony that an organization like UCSC was eliminating the journalism minor,” Reyas-Olivas said.
He said that Ruben Salazar’s name had been ignored and forgotten by people today and that it was time for students to remember his work as one of the only Spanish-speaking journalists in the Los Angeles area.
“I think a lot of non-Latino folks don’t understand the impact that [Salazar’s death] had on the Spanish-speaking community. For a Spanish-speaking community it was on the level of the assassination of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Courtney Miller, a fourth-year student and member of Journalism Now!—an organization that demands the resurrection of the journalism minor—holds similar sentiments toward Ruben Salazar, but remains critical of the university’s lack of a journalism program.
“I still appreciate that our school shows that they value journalism,” she said. “Inevitably we’re going to talk about how silly it is that our school recognizes esteemed journalists while it neglects its own budding journalists.”
Solomon had not been informed that the journalism program had been cut. He said that the importance of Salazar’s message went beyond the field of journalism, and that it applies to sociology, politics and history.
“I think these concerns of the first amendment transcend any category,” Solomon said. “Any sizable university should have a journalism program.”
Solomon read a speech at the event that he said illustrated the subtitle of his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, and screened footage of a documentary on the Middle East.
Other journalists who have received Ruben Salazar awards include Amy Goodman, who hosts Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! and Juan Gonzales, Amy Goodman’s co-host and a New York Daily News columnist.