Miguel Perez, an acclaimed award-winning journalist and former chair of the Journalism, Communications, and Theater Department at Lehman College, recently achieved a major career milestone. On September 19, Professor Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, an organization that he co-founded in 1984. The Hall of Fame honors journalists “whose efforts resulted in a greater number of Latinos entering the journalism profession or have helped to improve news coverage of the nation’s Latino community.”
“It’s wonderful to be recognized in this way,” said Perez, reflecting on his induction. “This is one of the most highly respected journalism organizations in the world presenting me with a lifetime achievement award that recognizes my entire career.”
“At first I thought it was funny that they were giving me a lifetime achievement award,” he adds. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not dead.’”
Perez made his reputation as an indomitable reporter and columnist covering issues of importance to the Latino community at the New York Daily News, the Miami Herald and The Record. He also achieved major success on both English and Spanish radio and television stations and as an insightful political analyst who has appeared on Telemundo 47, CNN, Univision, and the Fox Business Channel. His admission to the hall of fame is the culmination of these and many other achievements in an extraordinary career that has spanned more than three decades.
Making the honor even more special was that his nomination came from three association members who worked at other New York publications when Professor Perez was at the Daily News. Professor Perez’s daughter Lilia Perez, a photography major at New Paltz University celebrated the event with her father in Orlando.
“He deserves the recognition for his contribution to the Hispanic media,” says Rafael Prieto, the editorial director of the Charlotte-based, Spanish language publication, Qué Pasa-Mi Gente. “Miguel embodies everything we expect from mainstream journalists and especially Hispanic journalists. He’s always been a beacon on the critical issues affecting the Hispanic community.”
Perez considered that he had reached the “height of his career” during his years at the Daily News. But as he was increasingly offered radio and television gigs and then teaching opportunities at Lehman, he realized that each new job offered its own rewards.
He’s especially proud of his time as a journalism professor and former department chair at Lehman for three years, during whose tenure the school’s state-of the art multimedia center was established. “It was a great opportunity because I became chair just as we were opening the multimedia center,” he said.
“We were able to change the curriculum and improve the courses and because we had the facility, we were able to offer many more innovative programs. My major role was making sure that the transition took place and we could teach multimedia journalism.”
His recent passion project has been HiddenHispanicHeritage.com, a website that includes the columns, photographs, and videos of a 47-day, 9,000-mile journey across the U.S. in 2013, chronicling the fascinating but underreported Hispanic history found in cities from St Petersburg to Tucson. He’s planning to publish this continuing work as a book and frequently updates the site with new and compelling stories.
He is also a columnist for Creators.com, an online outlet that publishes the work of many well-known writers and politicians. “I’ve loved it all,” he admits about his life in the media. “I’ve loved every single thing I did with my career.”