For five days in the middle of March, Capitol Broadcasting welcomed 12 top journalism students from universities around the country into the WRAL newsroom for a hands-on learning opportunity. The 7th annual CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship included students from the University of Florida, UNC Chapel Hill, Georgia State, Kent State, Virginia Commonwealth, West Chester, Howard, High Point, and State University of New York at Fredonia.
Many WRAL employees and UNC faculty members took time out of their busy schedules to lead workshops, and mentor the fellows both in the newsroom and out in the field. Over five days in mid-March, the students produced nearly a dozen stories and two newscasts.
“This was the second year that I have worked with the diversity fellows, and I’m happy to do it,” said WRAL.com Managing Editor Alfred Charles. “The college students have so much enthusiasm and it’s great helping them understand how our business works. These are our newsroom leaders and reporters of the future. So, it’s exciting for me to see them as they are about to begin their professional careers”
WRAL-TV staffers mentored the Fellows as they practiced live shots, sitting at the anchor desk and working in the control room.
“I have no doubt that our fellowship makes a big difference in the lives of 12 students each year,” said WRAL-TV Assistant News Director Aysu Basaran. “I’m so proud to coordinate such an important program that gives a diverse group of students the confidence and skills needed to break into our industry.”
“This is an experience that will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I’m so thankful to WRAL for recognizing the importance of diversity.”
– Fellow Maryam Mohamed, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill
The staffers look at helping with the Fellowship as a way to pay forward help they received at the beginning of their own careers.
“In this industry, there are things you can’t learn in a classroom,” said WRAL-TV Producer Stephanie Beck. “My co-workers here at WRAL took me under their wings and taught me. I’m thrilled to pay it forward and do the same for today’s new journalists. It’s impressive that they are willing to give up their spring breaks to improve themselves and learn new skills. I’m honored to be a part of this fellowship each year, and if this year’s group is any indication, journalism will be in good hands moving forward.”
The mentors say they learned as much from the students as they taught them.
“It’s not a classroom, it’s a collaboration,” said WRAL-TV Photojournalist Richard Adkins. “I walked away from this learning 3 new apps from the fellows, apps I can use in my daily workflow. The energy is infectious; I get a recharge from this program every year.”
The students were full of praise for the program.
“The legacy of the program will live on through us all, so that one day the next generation of journalists will look like the communities that they represent,” said Fellow Madison Jones, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The fact that so many people chose to sacrifice their time just shows how much you all believe in us, and that we do matter. The genuine kindness and support did not go unnoticed. I hope to make everyone proud one day. I have so much love and respect for you all.”
Fellow Sunny Morgan, a student at West Chester University, agreed as she shared her thanks, “You’re all changing lives and inspiring students year after year. I hope we make you so proud.”
The 2019 UNC-Diversity Fellowship class included:
- Tony Betton Jr., Georgetown University
- Christiana Ford, Kent State University
- Kimothy Jones, UNC-Chapel Hill
- Madison Jones, Virginia Commonwealth University
- Monica Manney, State University of New York at Fredonia
- Clarisa Melendez, University of Florida
- Sofia Millar, University of Florida
- Maryam Mohamed, UNC-Chapel Hill
- Sunny Morgan, West Chester University
- Claudia Perez Brito, University of Florida
- Maya Reese, Howard University
- Courtney Wallen, High Point University
The fellows’ finished product – stories, videos, the full newscasts and digital extras – are available HERE
Capitol Broadcasting was happy to once again partner with UNC on the program, to help prepare minority students for a career in broadcasting.
“Thanks to everyone here who contributed, another group of fellows had a terrific experience and left with greater confidence that they have a future in this business,” said WRAL-TV News Director Rick Gall. “It would be hard to overstate the impact this fellowship had on them.”
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Aysu Basaran for contributions to this Capcom article and for Capcom photos. Thanks also to WRAL-TV’s Richard Adkins, Dave McCorkle & Stephanie Beck, as well as to various Fellows for these Capcom photos.
SLIDESHOW: 7th Annual CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship