The CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship returned to WRAL last week after a two-year break due to the pandemic. This year, the program welcomed 12 student journalists from UNC, the University of Florida, Florida A&M, High Point, the University of Miami, and West Chester University. They spent five days at WRAL reporting and producing. New this year, two of the fellows received training on how to produce for WRAL News+.
Staff members from WRAL and UNC provided sessions on topics ranging from active live shots to mental health and deadline pressure. The fellows soaked in as much information as possible to leave the program with an eye-catching reel and knowledge about how to land that first job. “I’m incredibly grateful that we continue to provide this opportunity,” said Aysu Basaran, assistant news director and fellowship coordinator. “These students give us hope about the future of this industry. It’s important that their voices are heard in newsrooms across the country.”
The producer fellows worked to create two different newscasts and WRAL News+ segments. “The CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship might be my favorite thing about WRAL,” said executive producer of WRAL News+ Jeremy Spearman. He adds that the fellows are “on the cusp of launching their careers and the future of broadcast journalism is in great hands.” Senior producer Stephanie Beck has been with the program since its first year in 2013. “I wasn’t sure what to expect from a group whose educational experience was shaped so strongly by distance-learnings and lockdowns,” she said. “Turns out, they have the same drive, dedication, and curiosity as our previous groups.”
The reporter fellows went out in the field with MMJs and photographers to turn stories and produce live shots. Each one turned in a digital version of their story to WRAL digital director of content Jodi Glusco. “The fellowship weekend is always a reminder of the changes in our industry, the passion with which we should approach our craft and the lived experiences of our colleagues,” Glusco said. “It is an opportunity for seasoned journalists to step back and consider what the core values are and how to impart them. It is also a breath of fresh air and a reminder that the future is bright.”
Louis Fernandez, WRAL Sports+ executive producer, coached some of the fellows and participated in several sessions. “The fellows were able to come away with a renewed passion for their future and insights into navigating the industry,” he said. The program has special meaning for Fernandez. “My time as a fellow back in 2016 left a mark. I hope this year’s group can say the same.”
The fellows expressed their gratitude at a dinner celebration in Chapel Hill Sunday where they received certificates for completing the program. Afterward, many of them posted their thanks on social media to spread the word to future applicants. Here is a sampling of their posts:
“I am abundantly grateful for the friendships and connections I made in 5 days. The work WRAL does every day is impeccable. Giving minorities an opportunity to be a part of that is just the cherry on top.” – Lisbeth Ramirez, High Point University.
“To everyone at WRAL and everyone who put this together, thank you so much for giving us the chance to step into your studio, work with you and create our own official newscast! This is an experience I’ll never forget.” – Cherry Kivumbi, West Chester University
“What an amazing opportunity to learn from an award-winning news crew at WRAL, work with talented reporter fellows, and produce/anchor in the studio I grew up watching!” – Cassia Sari, UNC
“This was the chance of a lifetime, and I’m so grateful … I am leaving more confident, more passionate, and even more excited than ever to get my first job as a reporter.” – Camila Pereira, University of Florida
Congratulations to the CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship class of 2023. You can see their work on WRAL.com.
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Aysu Basaran for this Capcom story & for these Capcom photos.