N.C. A&T hosts the 30th annual NABJ short course


Web Staff

From March 16-18, the National Association of Black Journalists hosted their 30th annual short course at N.C. A&T. Aspiring student journalists from up and down the east coast were able to learn from industry professionals that look like them.

Students were given the opportunity to obtain years’ worth of knowledge in front of the camera from seasoned Emmy award-winning anchors like Damany Lewis at WSOC-TV. Participants that are savvier behind the scenes were able to be a sponge all week by working side by side with CNN’s Charlitta Rodrigues and Melody Taylor.

As students arrived in the boisterous halls of N.C. A&T’s Crosby Hall, they were greeted by many members of N.C. A&T’s journalism and mass communications faculty included Gail Wiggins, Michael Carter, Ed Moye, Suzette Philips, Kawana Bowman, Gary Guffey and Caroline Jones. 

After the initial greetings concluded, students received intensive shooting and editing sessions. Participants also were given time to familiarize themselves with digital video equipment and Adobe Premiere. After this, the budding journalists were taught various reporting and producing strategies. 

After a rigorous evening of all things journalism, students, faculty, members of N.C. A&T’s chapter of NABJ and other participating members entered Deese Ballroom for the opening reception. At the reception, everyone in the room was given the opportunity to give an in-depth introduction. 

On March 17th, students received their fuel for the day at breakfast and hit the ground running. All students and professionals gathered in Crosby 215 to briefly state their professional goals or expound on what led them to their current role. 

Prior to the participants took a deep dive into their goals. The industry professionals gave the students a pop quiz on politics and current events on Thursday and Friday. On both days, N.C. A&T’s Lucy Pearsall-Finch aced the quizzes gaining the respect of the members and her fellow peers. 

“One of the first things the mentors told us was at the end of the short course we will know if this is what we want to do,” Pearsall-Finch said. “They were absolutely right! I love news; I’m all in and am energized by the incredible work of my peers.”

Following this, students were split into two groups and received their assignments for the remainder of their time in Greensboro, NC. In Group A, Alabama A&M’s Kenzhia Haskins, N.C. A&T’s Charlee Major and Hampton University’s Lauryn Bass served as producers. Group A’s reporters were Mario “Marz” Anderson from Kent State University, Kennedy Buck from Hampton University, Nala Sallie from North Carolina Central University, Melvin Harris from N.C. A&T, and Ciara White-Sparks from Hampton University. 

“It was a great experience! I learned so much,” Buck said. “The mentors not only gave us so much advice and wisdom about the industry but they also connected with us on a job level and made it possible where we could reach out to them whenever we needed. And I met an amazing group of student journalists who I hope will continue to be my friends!”

Group A’s reporters executed a wide range of stories including Mister and Miss. A&T trip to Hollywood, CA to be trophy presenters at the Oscars, food, and grocery robot delivery on N.C. A&T’s campus and local restaurants want student laborers. 

“Attending the short course allowed me to gain keen skills in the art of storytelling through the lens of broadcasting,” White-Sparks said. “I was challenged beyond measure, but through those challenges, I gained something that doesn’t come too often in this industry … that is friends. This experience is something I will cherish forever!”

N.C. A&T’s Jamille Whitlow, George Mason University’s Sydney Johnson, and Manchester Community College’s Deidre Montague made up Group A’s digital and web team. Jaydn James Terrell Chapman from N.C. A&T supported Group A with video production. 

Louis Gasper from Johns Hopkins University served as a producer for Group B. Lucy Pearsell-Finch and Alexis Davis from N.C. A&T assisted in producing and writing for Group B. Group B’s reporters included Syracuse University’s Tonia Brown, N.C. A&T’s Joslyn Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Jessica Johnson N.C. A&T’s Brianna Walton and Georgia State University’s Tyrik Wynn.

“As an aspiring journalist the program has made me better at sharing stories and getting information out to the public as a reporter,” Joslyn Brown said. “I truly enjoyed my experience and meeting other journalism students from other HBCUs and getting the chance to meet journalism professionals already in the field. I especially appreciate my now mentor, Siobhan Riley.”

Group B set out to tackle getting coverage of the new daylight-saving bill, long-term wifi outage, and a free gas giveaway at a nearby church. 

The digital and web team for Group B included Ariyanna Griffin from Clark Atlanta University, Octavia Johnson from Norfolk State University, Rebecca Smith from North Carolina Central University, and Kasonia Smith from Shaw University.  

The newsroom was occupied by Group B on Thursday. While Group B began to get acquainted with the newsroom, Group A participated in news sessions including how and where to find news, writing for the internet, why producing matters and production techniques, digital storytelling across platforms and politics. On Friday, the groups switched to receiving similar instructions. 

To close out the day on March 17th, students were given the opportunity to audition to anchor the newscast. After long deliberation and examining factors outside of how they appear on camera, the mentors decided on Brown and Wynn to anchor the show.

“I have to say the short course was an opportunity I will never forget,” Brown said. “I hope to come back and serve those who participate after me.”

After each group completed each session, everyone gathered collectively to learn how to ace interviews and rehearse for Saturday’s newscast. 

On Saturday, students were able to hear from NBCUniversal about how to make sure their resume best reflects their capabilities and how to win over anyone while interviewing. Students also heard from HEARST Television about the evolving world of television streaming. 

Once these informative sessions concluded, students were able to put all of the skills they gathered during the week to test by attending a small career fair. Kerwin Speight from Spectrum News 1, Lisa Fulk from WXII TV 12, Ben Hart from WJCL TV, Kevin Daniels from WGHP Fox 8, and Jeff Skordas from WFMY TV 2 were all in Crosby Hall ready to give students opportunities. 

As the career fair concluded, all participants had a pizza watch party for the newscast. As the newcast was displayed, the students were continentally cheering and clapping for their peers with joyous expressions across their faces. 

After a tiring week of perfecting their craft, students headed to the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons for the awards dinner. At the awards dinner, Bass took home the Ted Holtzclaw Award of Excellence, and Pearsall-Finch was awarded the Wanda Starke Student Achievement Award. Both awards featured scholarships. 

“It was such amazing opportunity to be in the same with such important people to my industry,” Bass said. “From meeting the NABJ President, interviewing with the NBCUniversal network, and even having a new family of journalism colleagues from all over, the Short Course has truly changed my life.”