The Solutions Journalism Network launches its first-ever HBCU/Black Press Academy & LEDE Fellowship with 14 HBCU educators and members of the Black Press. Exciting outcomes are expected to grow from the seed of an idea.
The Solutions Journalism Network is excited to announce the inaugural cohort for the Solutions Journalism HBCU/Black Press Academy & LEDE Fellowship. This cohort of educators from historically Black colleges, universities, and newsroom leaders from the Black Press will spend a year learning how to incorporate solutions journalism pedagogy into their curricula and media operations. Journalists and educators will be paired throughout the year to host community engagement events, collaborate on reporting projects, and provide student journalists the chance to put what they’re learning into practice.
This is Solutions Journalism Network’s first HBCU + Black Press fellows cohort. This initiative deepens SJN’s work with colleges and universities and builds on SJN’s commitment to renewing and refreshing journalism for historically underserved communities.
Each fellow will receive $7,500, training, and support to report on stories and hold community engagement events throughout the 2023-2024 academic year. Meet the class of fellows:
Dana Amihere is the founder, and executive director of AfroLA. She is a designer, developer, and data journalist who left conventional newsrooms in 2021 to start Code Black Media, a digital media consultancy at the intersection of data, design, and equity. As a Black Press fellow, she will focus on Black migration to Los Angeles.
Ron Calhoun is the publisher of The Cleveland Observer (TCO). TCO provides information and resources on health, education, finance, and positive change within the community. Calhoun served in the U.S. Air Force and retired as a system analyst from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Healthcare Data Center. He spent over 35 years working with the Karamu Theater as an actor and singer, a light and sound technician, and a sound designer. As a Black Press fellow, he will focus on training community members on the fundamentals of solutions journalism.
Lona Cobb is a professor teaching journalism at Winston-Salem State University since 2008. Before coming to WSSU, she was a journalism professor at Bennett College, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University. She earned her MAJ at Marshall University and her doctorate at Southern Illinois-Carbondale University. Her research interests include the presentation and publication of AIDS and health news in Black publications (specifically magazines). She was a copy editor at the Greensboro News & Record, and a news reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Winston-Salem Journal newspapers. As a Black Press fellow, she hopes to establish partnerships between WSSU student journalists and African American community newspaper journalists throughout North Carolina.
Makeda Easter is an award-winning journalist who works at the intersection of arts and social justice. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Dance Magazine, Chemical & Engineering News, American Theatre, and other publications. In 2022, she created the art rebellion, an independent platform amplifying the stories of artists who are also activists. Easter will spend her time as a Black Press fellow reporting solutions-focused stories on programs that help artists make a livable wage.
Catherine Hollingsworth founded the Bowie Sun digital newspaper in 2021 with a micro-grant from the Google News Initiative. The former Washington-based journalist formed the community news site out of a sense of urgency after a hedge fund closed the 41-year-old Bowie Blade-News. Hollingsworth is a former Freedom Forum-Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow with a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University. As a Black Press fellow, Hollingsworth will focus on rebuilding the local news scene in Bowie, Maryland.
Edward G. Robinson III is an award-winning sports journalist who wrote for The Washington Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The News & Observer in Raleigh, and other newspapers. He is a Professor of Practice at Morgan State University, in Baltimore, Maryland where he teaches writing and reporting courses. He is also the director of the SGJC Center for the Study of Race and Culture in Sports. Robinson will use his time as a Black Press fellow to examine the ongoing debate about Baltimore’s dirt bike culture.
Cheryl Smith is the editor and publisher of I Messenger Media LLC, the umbrella organization for Texas Metro News, Garland Journal, Metro News, and I Messenger. She is the immediate past secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists and a board member of the Society of Professional Journalists. As a Black Press fellow, she will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on Black Texans.
David Squires is a writer, editor, educator, and digital journalist who teaches writing and editing courses at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He is also a contributing writer for ESPN’s Andscape.com, formerly The Undefeated.
As a Black Press fellow, he will focus on solutions to social problems unique to communities near universities.
Latasha Rouseau is the Executive Director of Sapelo Square, a digital media, education, and news organization that documents and amplifies the experiences of Black Muslims in the United States. Before her current role, for over seventeen years, Latasha empowered and supported the most vulnerable groups in our communities by assisting youth and their families within the juvenile justice system. As a Black Press fellow, she will examine the impact of gentrification on inner-city masjids in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.
Adena J. White is an accredited public relations professional and social-impact storyteller with more than 15 years of experience leading communications efforts for place-based nonprofit organizations. In 2017, she founded Blackbelt Media to tell the stories of changemakers working to make the South a better place for all. Blackbelt Media produces the Blackbelt Voices podcast, which tells stories from and about Black folks down South that honor Black history, celebrate Black Southern culture, and shape the future of the region. Since it launched in September 2019, Blackbelt Voices has been featured as a “New and Noteworthy” podcast by Apple Podcasts, named one of “The 15 Best Educational Podcasts for You to Expand Your Mind” by Oprah Daily, and listed among “Eight Podcasts to Deepen Your Knowledge of Black History” by Vanity Fair. As a Black Press Fellow, she will explore how Black farmers and growers in the South address the lack of healthy food options in their communities.
Valerie D. White is an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University and is chair of the Black College Communication Association. The Fort Valley, Georgia, native has advised three college newspapers and has worked in all areas of the media. She has been a public relations practitioner, a television news producer, a newspaper general assignment reporter, a sportswriter and photographer, a magazine editor, and a copy editor. The Hampton University alumna received her master’s in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and her doctorate in mass communication from the University of Georgia. Her hobbies include reading, watching movies, traveling, and crafts, particularly cross-stitch and jewelry making. As a Black Press fellow, she will examine programs and events to combat the attack in Florida on Black history and Black culture.
Valerie Whitney is a professor of practice at Bethune-Cookman University. She is the adviser to the student newspaper Voice of the Wildcats, and McLeod Magazine, a student feature publication produced in the fall and the spring. She is a founding member of the Roots Revisited Book Club in Daytona Beach, and she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. As a Black Press fellow, Whitney will spend her time exploring plans to revitalize midtown Daytona Beach, Florida.
James Wright is a staff writer for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He worked with the Informer since December 2018 and previously worked as a freelance writer for the newspaper from 2009 to 2014. He also wrote for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper and The Washington Post. His work as a Black Press fellow will focus on initiatives to increase the number of Black medical professionals in predominantly Black wards in Washington, D.C.