The Results of Dedication
For those of us on staff who are responsible for producing this magazine every two weeks, our annual journalism edition is one of our
favorites, because, well, we’re all journalists, and it’s an opportunity for us to take a look at what’s going on in the academic community to train and educate journalists .
In Black Issues In Higher Education, we often write about the challenges academia faces in not only the recruitment but, more importantly, the retention of minority students, faculty and staff on college campuses and universities across the country.
The journalism industry faces a similar challenge, because just as quickly as new minority journalists are hired, almost as many leave their respective media organizations. I imagine their reasons for leaving the industry are varied. Some may be disenchanted with the types of stories they’re assigned to cover or that seem to be of priority to their employer. Others may feel like their voices and perspectives are not valued in the newsroom. Regardless of the reason, the retention of Black and minority journalists is essential. Notes Adam Clayton Powell III, the author of our “Last Word,” “The demographic gap between overwhelmingly White newsrooms and a rapidly diversifying America is growing.”
The package of stories in this edition well represents the steps academia is taking to train minority journalists. From the profile on Black College Wire, which gives journalism students on HBCU campuses the opportunity to perfect their craft — to the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies housed at North Carolina A&T State University, which seeks to nurture Black mid-career journalists — journalism professionals and scholars are taking a proactive role to ensure that students get the best training possible, all resulting in what they hope will make for a smooth transition into the journalism profession.
The impact journalism professionals and scholars are having on aspiring journalists is evident in almost every article included in this edition. For
example, in “Worthy of Recognition,” Black Issues intern Michelle Nealy profiles North Carolina Central University’s student newspaper, the Campus Echo. The paper had long been considered an extra-curricular activity until Dr. Bruce dePyssler, the Echo’s faculty adviser, turned things around. This year alone the Echo staff has racked up a number of awards from organizations such as the Black College Communications Association and the Society of Professional Journalists — and keep in mind that the university does not yet have a journalism department.
It was Pearl Stewart, the former internship director at Florida A&M University’s journalism school, who secured the $200,000 grant to get Black College Wire up and running. And DeWayne Wickham, a columnist for USA Today, a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists and the subject of our cover story, hopes his institute will inspire both aspiring and mid-career journalists to keep doing what they do. The articles highlight what colleges and universities are doing to train and educate journalists, but they’re actually more about the work of individuals and how their dedication to their students and to journalism is creating opportunities and subsequently launching careers.
And in an industry that decides who and what will receive news coverage, the importance of a diverse newsroom cannot be exaggerated.
Hilary Hurd Anyaso
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com