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Morehouse Launches Sports Journalism Program

By Shaneesa N. Ashford

A high-powered panel that included sports professionals and Morehouse alumnus Shelton “Spike” Lee ’79 officially announced the creation of a Journalism and Sports Program at Morehouse on Nov. 14.

Lee, who provided $325,000 for the program, stressed the importance of sports in today’s society.

“If you want to know what’s happening in the world, read the sports page,” said Lee.

Panelists for the discussion included David Cummings ’89, senior deputy editor for ESPN The Magazine; Tara August, public relations manager for Turner Sports; Ronnie Ramos, sports editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Reggie Roberts, vice president of Football Communications for the Atlanta Falcons; and Ike Reese, Atlanta Falcons linebacker.

Panelists focused on the disparity between minority athletes in various sports and the number of minority journalists covering those sports. For example, while the percentages of African Americans in the NFL and NBA are 69 and 76 respectively, African Americans comprise small percentages of radio and television announcers in those sports: 3 percent in the NFL and 14 percent in the NBA.

“If you only have one group of people reporting on one group of people, it gets one-dimensional,” said Ramos.

The College has advertised for a program director, who will manage the program, teach courses, create a program publication and maintain a lecture series.

The primary goal of the Journalism and Sports Program, originally proposed in 1999, will be to provide Morehouse students with an academic foundation in journalism through offering a concentration within the English major. The program marks the return of a journalism curriculum to Morehouse. Prior to 1991, students were able to pursue a mass communications degree at Clark Atlanta University.

Core courses include basic news writing and the history and principles of health and physical education. In addition to an internship, students also will take elective courses that include organization and administration of health, physical education, recreation and athletics.

Lee hopes to one day expand the program to sports media, and possibly partner with the Morehouse School of Medicine.

“We should be diverse in what we teach here, and at the forefront of what happens,” Lee said. “This is something that has to be done.”

Morehouse joins schools such as the University of Tennessee, the University of Texas at Austin, Pennsylvania State University and Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., in offering a sports journalism concentration. Classes are slated to begin in spring 2007.