The AJC Media scholars program launched in Fall 2016 as a partnership between the Anna Julia Cooper Center and Elle.com This highly competitive journalism program for Wake Forest University undergraduates offered students an opportunity to learn crucial reporting and digital skills while creating content focused on women and girls of color.There was considerable media interest in the program when it launched, including a feature story in Time. Professors Harris-Perry and Williams chose five students from more than fifty applications. Seniors, Lauren Barber, Mankaprr Conteh, Alex Dean, and Ann Nguyen and sophomore Erica Jordan. During the 2016-2017 academic year these five five undergraduate students honed their journalism skills and shape national conversations. The program was a dynamic partnership with ELLE.com, a leading national website that reaches more than a million people daily.
During weekly meetings scholars learned basics of news writing including lead writing, story development and structure and the editing process. Scholars also received training from journalists from top media outlets across the country, Editors from Elle.com also spent a day on campus teaching students about digital journalism.The program afforded scholars several opportunities to travel as a cohort for the purpose of learning field reporting, meeting additional mentors, and gaining valuable contacts including- October 2016, Stanford University for event with Solange and meetings with JS Knight Fellows; December 2016, New York City media trip included meetings with editors at Elle.com, Elle, Essence and BuzzFeed; and January 2017, Washington D.C. for the Trump presidential inauguration and the historic Women’s March.
The program connected scholars with writers and reporters so that they could learn from practitioners in the field during our travels and on campus. Students met authors and journalists Veronica Chambers and Jeff Chang; Stacy-Marie Ishmael, managing editor for mobile BuzzFeed News; and Lewis Wallace, a transgender journalist and former American Public Media Marketplace reporter who was fired for publishing a blog post questioning objectivity in the Trump era. Scholars met with Baratunde Thurston and Questlove during a second NYC trip.
In addition to cohort experiences, scholars were afforded opportunities for individual professional development based on their specific skills, interests, and goals. Senior Mankaprr Conteh spent a day shadowing Essence Magazine’s Features editor Lauren Williams where she practiced pitching and writing news stories for Essence’s audience and learned the lengthy process of editing a feature Senior Ann Nguyen interviewed comedian Phoebe Robinson and experienced a live podcast on WNYC. Ann also directed and shot video for an interview, later used on Buzzfeed’s Another Round. Senior Lauren Barber attended the 2017 student journalism conference of The Nation, where she met young writers and established editors. Lauren was able to discuss and pitch stories resulted to North Carolina political stories with national outlets.
The work of individual scholars was published in multiple print and digital locations including: Elle.com, Buzzfeed, okayplayer.com, WFU’s Old Gold and Black, The F Bomb
FEATURED COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS
SEAT AT THE TABLE SYLLABUS
The scholars collaborated to create and publish a crowd sourced, multimedia syllabus inspired by the popular album A Seat at the Table, by Solange. The syllabus was very well received and heavily reported. The initial twitter chat for the launch of the #SeatSyllabus reached nearly 625,000 accounts on users.
View the entire syllabus here
WOMENS MARCH READING LIST
In January of 2017 the Elle.com Scholars worked collaboratively to curate a reading list for those attending the Women's March in Washington DC. The books and articles ranged from foundational history to up-to-the-minute activist texts.
The full list can be found here