Maritza Félix is the recipient of the 2022 Cecilia Vaisman Award from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Félix is a freelance journalist, producer and writer in Arizona. She is the founder of Conecta Arizona, a news-you-can-use service in Spanish that connects people in Arizona and Sonora primarily through WhatsApp and social media. She is the cofounder, co-producer and co-host of Comadres al Aire and the executive producer and host of Cruzando Líneas.
The Vaisman award honors an individual working in audio or video journalism who works every day to shed light on the various issues affecting Hispanic and Latinx communities inside and outside the United States and is an active member of the NAHJ. It is given jointly by NAJH and Medill and includes a $5,000 cash prize. The award is named for Medill faculty member Cecilia Vaisman who died in 2015.
“The work that Maritza has done in the Latinx community to fight misinformation about the pandemic has undoubtedly saved lives, and the relationships that she is building in her community have helped to strengthen their trust in journalism,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “For these reasons and more, I am delighted to honor her with the 2022 Cecilia Vaisman Award.”
Félix’s nomination was reviewed and selected by a jury of Medill and NAHJ representatives, including members of the NAHJ Chicago chapter. The award criteria was determined by the jury.
“Border journalists who work in Spanish fight against the odds to show that our narratives, our voices and our accents matter,” said Félix. “Non-traditional, community-inspired journalism takes time, perseverance and a genuine commitment to two-way communication. This award helps to shine a light on what we have achieved at Conecta Arizona. At a time when public confidence in the news media is eroding, we have built a community that trusts us to bring them honest and reliable information. Our community knows that we listen and respond to their needs and concerns, whether it’s in our daily cafecito on WhatsApp, or our weekly radio call-in show. We don’t assume what our audience needs, they tell us. We don’t shy away from controversial topics, we uphold the highest standards of journalism ethics and excellence, and we treat everyone with respect. We are a Spanish-language news and information service for Spanish-speakers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. I’m so proud of the journalism we do con acento y con talento.”
Félix’s work has been published in major newspapers in Mexico and other countries and broadcast on Univision and Telemundo. She is an independent journalist whose work appears in The Nation, The Hechinger Report, Organización Editorial Mexicana, Channel 4 in the U.K., Feet in 2 Worlds, Slate, The Americano, Proyecto Puente, Uniradio Noticias, Telemax, and Prensa Arizona. She hosted the documentary “Mysteries of Faith” for Discovery Channel and contributed as producer to “The Wall,” a worldwide investigative documentary for Rondo Media in the UK. She has worked as special project producer for Al Jazeera and was the investigative producer for award-winning special reports for Channel 4 in U.K.
“As a trailblazing NAHJ member and palabra. contributor, we are thrilled to announce Maritza L. Félix as the 2022 Vaisman award recipient,” said NAHJ National President Yvette Cabrera. “Maritza shares the same tenacious spirit and innovative approach that Cecilia had for multifaceted storytelling that reflects our community’s diversity.”
In 2011 Félix was named one of 40 under 40 Arizona Hispanic Leaders by Chicanos Por La Causa in recognition of her influential work in the state. Félix has won five Emmys and is the recipient of the inaugural award for Best Chronicle Written in the US by Nuevas Plumas. She also has won multiple awards from the Arizona Press Club. In 2012 and 2013 the Phoenix New Times named Félix Best Spanish-Language Journalist in Arizona.
Félix’s work will be highlighted during an award ceremony hosted by Medill on Monday, October 3, 5:30-6:30 CT, in partnership with NAHJ.