The motto of the Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program – “Changing the Face of Journalism” – is both symbolic and pragmatic. It is symbolic because there are too few African American faces in prominent positions in print, broadcast and online media. It is pragmatic because if black people don’t have more impact on the media’s images of them and the world, those images may be blurred or disfigured by racially based naiveté and bias.
“There is no such thing as objectivity in the media. It’s a question of controlling one’s subjectivity as much as one can,” said the late sports journalist Ralph Wiley, who joined famed filmmaker Spike Lee ’79 in conceiving the Morehouse journalism program.
Journalism is important because its goals are noble, its impact is great, and its skills are transferable to every profession. Critical thinking, the ability to communicate, and a commitment to accuracy are welcome everywhere.
The Journalism and Sports Program, which can be pursued as elective courses or as an 18-credit minor, gives students hands-on opportunities to develop into multi-skilled journalists that the media industry aggressively seeks. They gain experience writing news, features, crime-related stories and sports articles, and learn to produce digital packages. Panel discussions and guest speakers have brought the real media world to our campus, and students can practice their craft by working for the print, online and television versions of The Maroon Tiger, the student news organization.
Sports reporting is a focus of the curriculum because the relative lack of black sports journalists shocked and inspired Lee and Wiley to create our program.
Although nearly 65 percent of professional football players and 80 percent of pro basketball players are black, only 6 percent of newspaper sports journalists are African American. Our founders envisioned a program that would produce journalists who present a fair and enlightened portrayal of black athletes.
Students who desire a sports-related career can take the opportunity to cover a variety of sports on the pro, college and high school levels, learn writing and editing techniques used by veteran sports journalists, and become informed about nearly forgotten black athletes who had an impact on society at large.
We aim to produce the media’s next generation of image makers, such as columnists and digital specialists. We also are producing future decision-makers who will become editors and online entrepreneurs. Some of our students have gone directly into the media; others have become more polished in graduate schools of journalism at Columbia and Northwestern universities, along with the U. of Missouri-Columbia.
I invite you as a student or as a financial supporter to join the Journalism and Sports Program in our quest to produce the best.