Tag: National Association of Black Journalists

BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press”

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Now that the government shutdown is over and national museums are open again (unless that mess happens again), Black History Month is an especially poignant time to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) if you are in the D.C. area.

I had the good fortune to visit NMAAHC two years ago, and still remember acutely its “Making a Way out of No Way” exhibit, which focusses on the six avenues African-Americans pursued post-slavery to gain equity and agency in the United States – Activism, Enterprise, Organization, Education, Faith, and… the Press.

Because of my lifelong interest in journalism, I am personally drawn to stories about the Black Press, which has existed in some form since antebellum times (the first black publication of record is the Freedom Journal in 1827), and exists to this day.

Yet so many don’t know about its rich history and how its presence and its reporters not only served often unrecognized communities, but also were (and still are) deeply involved in activism and social justice at every turn in every era on local, state and national levels.

Enter Ethel Lois Payne.

Long before former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to call out American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan for giving him what he thought was a disrespectful headshake while simply trying to do her job, Ethel Payne was agitating White House officials in the press room on a daily.

Payne set the standard in the 1950s when she became one of only three black journalists to be credentialed as a member of the White House Press Corps.

Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, and was known for asking questions others dared not ask.

It was just unheard of for blacks to be standing up and asking presidents impertinent questions and particularly a black woman. – Ethel Payne

Payne became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories, and questioned every president from Eisenhower to Reagan.

As Payne’s biographer, James McGrath Morris, who wrote Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press says, “Her not being known today is really a legacy of segregation, in that she was iconic to a large segment of the U.S. population, but like most black institutions, the Chicago Defender was entirely invisible to white Americans. So the notion of discussing civil rights with the President of the United States, in that case Eisenhower, she felt she was part of ‘the problem’ and couldn’t pursue typical objective reporting. Instead she adopted a measure of being fair. It may seem like a small distinction but it wasn’t. Her questions were laden with an agenda.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois, the granddaughter of slaves, Payne’s father worked as a Pullman Porter, one of the best jobs open to African Americans in those times. He died at age forty-six after contracting an deadly infection from handling soiled linens and clothes on the train, when Ethel was fourteen years old. Her mother then took various domestic jobs to support the family, which made it difficult to educate all of her children.

Ethel spent her childhood in the predominantly black neighborhood of West Englewood bit attended Chicago public schools, notably the mostly white Lindblom Technical High School. Payne longed to be a writer and pushed to continue her education at Crane Junior College and the Chicago Training School for City, Home, and Foreign Missions.

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White House Correspondent April Ryan Named NABJ Journalist of the Year

April Ryan (photo via huffpost.com)

by Lilly Workneh via huffpost.com

Journalist April Ryan’s impressive body of work and cutting analysis has landed her a top honor in her field. The National Association of Black Journalists announced Tuesday that Ryan has been named the organization’s 2017 Journalist of the Year, an annual award given to a black journalist with a distinguished resume including in-depth work that is of importance to people of the African diaspora.

Ryan, who has been a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks since 1997, is the only black female reporter covering urban issues from the White House, NABJ reported. With over 30 years of experience, Ryan has helped to provide media coverage of the nation’s last three presidents and also just recently signed with CNN as a political analyst.

“April Ryan is a true trailblazer and truth seeker. She’s dogged and unapologetic about her pursuit of the story,” NABJ President Sarah Glover said in a statement on Tuesday. “In the White House press corps circle, where too few black women have been given an opportunity to report, April has excelled and persevered in spite of the many obstacles she has confronted. Her work has risen to the top.”

Ryan has been heavily praised in past months for the professionalism she has shown during press briefings with White House press secretary Sean Spicer as well as news conferences with President Donald Trump. One encounter she had with Spicer in April sparked widespread criticism after he told Ryan to stop shaking her head as he spoke. The hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork immediately went viral as women of color everywhere shared similar experiences of disrespect in the workplace.

“We all have a job to do and some of the stories we are doing wouldn’t be told if it weren’t for us,” Ryan said of her responsibility as a journalist in a statement Tuesday. “We all need to keep pressing because the First Amendment is under attack.”

To read full article, go to: April Ryan Named NABJ Journalist Of The Year, Honored As A ‘True Trailblazer’ | HuffPost

“Belle” Director Amma Asante on How the Indie Drama Turned Her Into a Hollywood Player

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Amma Asante on set of “Belle” (Photo Courtesy Fox Searchlight)

If you asked most people in Hollywood who Amma Asante was just a few months ago, you’d probably get a blank stare. Now, after the release of her critically acclaimed film “Belle,” the British writer-director is a certified Hollywood player.

Asante’s life and career took a dramatic turn in May, when “Belle” hit theaters in North America. TheWrap spoke with her this past weekend in Boston at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention, where Asante introduced clips of the film during a presentation by Fox Home Entertainment.

“You make a movie essentially in a bubble, I think, especially when it’s your second movie,” Asante said. “So, I was certainly making this movie in a bubble, and wondering whether my concept of the world, and my concept of the world back then as well, would connect to an audience today.”

It seems Asante had no reason to worry. “Belle” received an impressive 83 percent positive rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and the independent film earned a respectable $10 million at the box office via Fox Searchlight.

RELATED: “Belle” Does Well in Limited Release; Expands to 10 More Cities Next Weekend

The movie is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) – the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of Royal Navy Captain, Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Lindsay leaves Belle to be raised by her aristocratic great uncle, Lord Mansfield, in 18th century England. Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson) are already taking care of another niece, and the two girls become inseparable. But while Belle’s lineage allows her certain privileges, her skin color prevents her from having the traditional noble social status.

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Amma Asante speaks at NABJ in Boston, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 (Credit: Brett E. Chambers)

“Initially this project had started off with my producer and the writer who’s credited on the film, with HBO in America. Then HBO dropped the project,” Asante said. After the script passed through several different hands, Asante decided to give it a more personal touch.

“What I did was, I put my experiences into Dido’s life. That was the easiest way of connecting the historical facts and to try and make it personal … There are many lines in it that are quotes from my father and quotes from my sister,” Asante said, referring to the fact that she grew up in England, but felt like an outsider because she is black and of Ghanaian descent.

“We lived in an area where we were one of only two black families on the street,” Asante explained as she opened up about her personal experiences with racism. “We went through that period of having feces through the letterbox (mailbox) … and graffiti on our walls.”

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Dean Baquet Becomes NY Times’ First African American Executive Editor

 

dean-baquet-300x208Dean Baquet, managing editor of the New York Times and former top editor at the Los Angeles Times, was named Executive Editor on Wednesday after Jill Abramson stepped down from the New York newspaper’s top editorial job.  Baquet, 57, becomes the first African American in the job.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a  generation ago,” he said in a New York Times account of the development, “one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day.”

Baquet’s ascension was big news for black journalists, whose ranks have been buffeted by newspaper staff contractions and indifference to diversity concerns.

“He has reached a height many can only dream about,” messaged Don Hudson, the executive editor of the Decatur (Ala.) Daily who tracks the number of black top editors for the National Association of Black Journalists. “He’s an inspiration to all of us editor types out here in the trenches. I know I’m proud of him.”

Hudson added, “It’s a good day. God is good. First a president and now the top journalist.”

Get the rest of this story at Journal-isms.

NPR Announces Plans To Form Race, Ethnicity Coverage Team At UNITY 2012

National Public Radio, criticized in recent years for a lack of diversity of its staff and coverage, is using a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to put together a six-person team to report stories on race, ethnicity and culture.
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Black Journalists Honor CNN’s Soledad O’Brien

The National Association of Black Journalists named CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Journalist of the Year at its spring Board of Directors meeting.  O’Brien is the impetus of CNN’s acclaimed “In America” franchise, which began with CNN’s “Black In America” in 2008, a groundbreaking documentary, which took an in-depth look at the challenges confronting blacks in America.

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via www.todaysdrum.com