BY NONI MARSHALL
AND ALEXA IMANI SPENCER
NNPA NEWS SERVICE
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) kicked off the second year of the “Discover The Unexpected” (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program with an “Immersion” event in Detroit, Michigan.
Chevrolet, the sponsor of the program, hosted the student scholars and a handful of NNPA publishers and editors for an interactive experience designed to prepare the fellows for a summer of working with the Black Press.
The 2017 DTU journalism fellows are Alexa Imani Spencer and Noni Marshall from Howard University; Kelsey Jones and Taylor Burris from Spelman College; Jordan Fisher and Tiana Hunt from Clark Atlanta University; and Ayron Lewallen and Darrell Williams from Morehouse College.
The trip commenced with a welcome ceremony at a repurposed firehouse that serves as the commercial studio of Ed Welburn, the former vice president of Global Design at General Motors (GM).
Representatives from GM and the NNPA greeted the fellows. The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox was parked at the entrance.
Chevrolet sent an all-new Equinox to each of the participating NNPA member publications for the DTU fellows to use for a month during the program.
After a welcome from the program’s team, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president and CEO of the NNPA and Michelle Alexander, the diversity marketing manager for Chevrolet, delivered remarks.
Serving as this year’s Road Trip Navigator, Jamilah Lemieux, vice president of News and Men’s Programming for Interactive One’s, expressed the importance of Black media.
“I am a firm believer in the urgency of protecting the future of Black media, of making sure that we have ample opportunity to not just tell our stories well, because we’ve always been able to tell our stories well, but to amplify them,” Lemieux said.
The final day of the Detroit immersion event included an inspirational speech from Chavis at GM headquarters. He reminded the fellows that they represented an emerging generation of journalists.
Chavis also noted that this year marks the 190th anniversary of the Black Press in America.
“This is an opportunity not just to reaffirm [our] 190-year legacy, but to represent that legacy in new and more profound ways that match the challenges and opportunities we face in our communities,” Chavis said.
Time with mentors
The DTU fellows were given the opportunity to meet with representatives from the NNPA member newspapers, where they will work this summer; Shalon Bell from The Atlanta Voice; Adria Jervay of The Carolinian, based in Raleigh, N.C.; David Baker of The Louisiana Weekly, based in New Orleans; and Kevin McNeir from The Washington Informer, in Washington, D.C.
In breakout sessions, the senior newspaper staffers shared their expectations with their new writers.
Anxious to get started, the fellows asked questions and marveled at the history of the newspapers they were soon to join. There was excitement in the air after the student scholars connected with the editors and representatives from the NNPA member publications.
“I was impressed by the immense love we have received from the whole General Motors staff, NNPA, and the fellows,” said Jordan Fisher, who will join Kelsey Jones at The Atlanta Voice. “I don’t take that for granted. It’s refreshing to see that and feel it.”
To learn more about NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” Journalism Fellowship program, visit www.nnpa.org/dtu.
Alexa Spencer and Noni Marshall are 2017 DTU Journalism Fellows and Howard University students, who are creating content for The Washington Informer this summer. Follow Alexa on Twitter @alexaimani. Follow Noni on Twitter @noni_nnpadtu.