‘Missing’ NAHJ archives were actually mislabeled

The announcement last year that more than two decades of archives and documents might have been lost sent ripples of concern through the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, whose members worried that many of the organization’s historical documents might be gone.

But they weren’t actually lost, said Alberto Mendoza, the organization’s executive director. They were mislabeled by the data and records company responsible for archiving the documents.

The documents were found two months after the organization’s board meeting, Mendoza said. The news was shared with NAHJ’s membership in a tweet, but Latino Reporter staff were unable to find the social media post.

“There aren’t any missing documents,” Mendoza said.

National Association of Hispanic Journalists documents once believed to be missing were mislabeled by Iron Mountain after they purchased Recall Holdings. Iron Mountain’s San Antonio, Texas office is pictured on September 5, 2019. (Latino Reporter/Laura Romero)

During the organization’s annual conference in 2018, board members revealed that the records, which included photographs, records and documents dating back to 1984, disappeared.

The organization transferred the archives to Recall Holdings about nine years ago when the organization’s main office — where they had been stored — was shut down due to financial hardships NAHJ faced after the recession.

In May 2016, Iron Mountain bought Recall Holdings. The association didn’t ask to retrieve archives since before the company was sold in 2016.

After purchasing Recall Holdings, Iron Mountain mislabeled the files, according to Mendoza. 

Iron Mountain is the company responsible for mislabeling more than two decades of NAHJ archives. After widespread confusion and worry among NAHJ members who believed history was gone, the files were found. Iron Mountain’s San Antonio, Texas building is pictured on September 5, 2019.

Staffers from NAHJ were sent to the storage company to verify that the archives were complete.

Iron Mountain declined to comment. 

The NAHJ board are holding discussions on whether to move the files to another location. There are no plans on digitizing them, according to NAHJ President Hugo Balta.

“It’s going to cost money to get the archives and move it to wherever,” Balta said. “There are interested parties that want to donate their time and resources to make it happen.” 

When asked to elaborate on the contents of the documents, Mendoza referred the Latino Reporter to former President Brandon Benavides. He declined to comment.

Laura Romero is a 2019 NAHJ Student Project participant. She is a junior at American University with a major in communications, law, economics and government. She is an intern at ABC News with the investigative and justice department. Reach her at lr6714a@student.american.edu and on Twitter at @lauraromero1207.

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