By Omar Sanchez, San Antonio Express News
In an appearance in San Antonio, Jim Acosta, the CNN White House correspondent, had a message for all journalists Saturday evening.
“I came down here to tell people and will tell people wherever I go, just do your job,” he said at a news conference ahead of the 19th annual San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists Scholarships & Awards Gala. “Continue to do your job. We’re not going to be afraid. We’re not going to be intimidated.”
Acosta, 46, was honored with the Corazón de Oro award during the night’s proceedings. The gala, with an expected 466 attendees, featured a keynote speech from Acosta as well as 11 scholars being honored for their work, SAAHJ President Joey Palacios said.
“We are not going anywhere,” Acosta said after accepting the award. “There is too much at stake at this moment.”
He spoke of what he called “self-evident truths,” things everyone in the general public knows for certain: “The sky is blue, two plus two is four … (journalists) are not enemies of the people,” Acosta said. “We are the voices of the people.”
The association provides networking opportunities for Latino journalists in the community and gives scholarships to upcoming student journalists, with a goal of promoting diversity among those working in Texas news media.
It gives the Corazón de Oro to an individual, group or institution “whose work has been recognized nationally for excellence and has served as an inspiration for others,” according to a news release about the event.
The Trump administration has had a running feud with Acosta. On Jan. 11, President Donald Trump dismissed Acosta’s questions during the administration’s first news conference, at which Trump called CNN “terrible” and “fake news.”
At an audio-only White House press briefing June 26, Acosta confronted press secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly about the decision to ban the use of cameras in the briefings.
“You are a taxpayer-funded spokesperson for the United States government,” Acosta said. “Can you at least give us an explanation for why the cameras are off?”
Spicer later was asked about this exchange on Fox News and replied, “I think some of these reporters are more interested in their YouTube clips than they are in getting factual news.”
Acosta on Saturday defended the confrontational style as necessary given what he considers the administration’s attempts to trivialize news and news professionals.
“It’s a different kind of president, so it’s a different playbook as journalists,” he told reporters before the gala. “What are you supposed to do when you’re called ‘fake news?’ What are you supposed to when you’re called ‘the enemy of the people?’”
Palacios recently spoke to the San Antonio Express-News on why the SAAHJ considered Acosta for the award.
“He isn’t afraid to push forward and he doesn’t back down when those he is interviewing try to skirt his question,” Palacios said.
Other notable figures in the San Antonio area were honored Saturday evening. John W. Gonzalez, a recently retired longtime reporter for the Express-News and other newspapers, received the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services was given SAAHJ’s Community Service Award.
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