Journalism and Sports Program
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 misrepresented 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.
$1 Million Donors
After Wiley, a distinguished author and one of the first black sports columnists in majority-owned publications, died in 2004, Lee carried out their cause by raising $1 million to start our program.
Then in 2015 Charles Barkley, the Basketball Hall of Famer and irreverent Turner Sports basketball analyst, furthered our growth by pledging another $1 million to our program because he recognized the seriousness of our mission.
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.
Developing Multimedia Skills
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 multimedia journalists that the industry seeks.
They gain classroom experience writing news and feature articles about various topics such as politics, social justice issues, crime, and sports. By helping them become clear, concise writers, our students benefit from our classes as professionals in any field they choose, not just journalism.
Students also learn how to shoot photos and videos, and edit them to produce digital packages.
Panel discussions and guest speakers also bring the real media world to our campus. Our students are encouraged to join that world by pitching articles to online and print publications. Recently, our students articles were published in The Undefeated and Medium.
Rare Sports Focus
Sports reporting is a special 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 8 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 all athletes – but especially of black athletes and their rich but often overlooked history.
“If you want to know what’s happening in the world, read the sports page,” Lee said.
Impacting the Media
The result has been a program that has former students who now write or edit for GQ, the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and the Griot and Complex; hold production positions with CBS 48 Hours, Fox Sports and ESPN; report news at TV stations in Georgia and Maryland; and report and produce for WABE, a National Public Radio station in Atlanta.
In sports, our past students cover Duke basketball, broadcast Georgia State football and basketball, publicize Atlanta’s annual tennis tournament and serve as an Atlanta Falcons media coordinator.
Altogether, about 50 of our former students have become media professionals since our inception in 2007 and 27 have earned master’s degrees in journalism or sports-related fields.
On campus, students can practice their craft by working for the print, online and television versions of The Maroon Tiger, the student news organization that won the 2015 Georgia College Press Association award for overall excellence and won three first-place awards for 2016.
Distinguished Visiting Lecturers
Special event and classroom lecturers have informed our students with wide-ranging expertise. Guests have included CNN political commentator Angela Rye, ESPN media star Michael Wilbon, award-winning New York Times investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Pete McDaniel, an expert on the history of black golfers.
In addition, our students have been exposed to inspiring off-campus visits to:
- Cuba in 2016 and 2017;
- The 2016 Democratic National Convention;
- Turner Sports studios;
- An annual NASCAR race;
- A lecture by New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet;
- Atlanta’s new National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Since 2011, current and past students from our program have attended the National Association of Black Journalists Convention, where they can network with 2,000 professional journalists and have their work critiqued by recruiters for media companies and high-profile graduate schools of journalism.
Overall, we aim to produce the media’s next generation of image makers, such as columnists and digital specialists, and decision-makers who will become editors and online entrepreneurs.
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.
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