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NABJ discusses reporting while Black

Written by on August 26, 2020

Photo via National Association of Black Journalists

By: Chandrelle Lazard

Chandrelle wrote this story on August 11, 2020,

African-American journalists said their cultural identity should be an asset and not a liability at a National Association of Black Journalists webinar held recently. 

The discussion was among a plethora of virtual conversations held during the four-day convention August 5-8.

Anchor and reporter Dejaun Hoggard moderated the, “Love Life and the Lede: How to Navigate the Business and Your Personal Life” discussion. 

Hoggard kicked off the discussion with the importance of using coping mechanisms when covering stories related to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. 

Newlywed anchor, Kenneth Macon, addressed how he took care of himself when he reported disturbing news topics.

“Self care is the most important thing to do. There’s a lot of relying on my faith and circle of trusted people to get through these times,” Macon said.  

WSOC-TV anchor Damany Lewis, found solace in his family after moving to Charlotte, N.C. for a new opportunity to work for Channel 9 Eyewitness News at Noon.

“I had to dig deeper into my foundation, which is my family. It’s important to have that separation of church and state,” Lewis said.

Moreover, co-anchor for ABC World News Now,  Kenneth Moton, believes being Black shouldn’t interfere with covering current events.

“I was actually very disheartened to find out and see that there were publications that were pulling Black journalists  from doing stories on Black lives matter on the street; saying, ‘you can’t go out and do the story because there is obviously some type of bias there,’” Moton said. 

Lewis said equality and ethnicity are age old issues in the newsroom.

“You wake up Black, you go to bed Black, but you wake up being a professional journalist;  you will go to sleep being a journalist and doing what you know you need to do,” Lewis said. 

Being objective in a journalistic career is essential, but 41 Action News in  Kansas City, MO anchor and reporter Dia Wall shared how her race has been essential to her stories. 

“I allow my experience as a Black woman to inform my story, but being a Black woman isn’t a story. It allows me to empathize with others,” Wall said. 

News correspondent Linsey Davis explained how being Black may not be the story, but being aware of African-American history can contribute to storytelling and informing the public. 

“We know the facts, we know the background and the context. I think what’s so important, in this moment, is that we uniquely provide those factors into our stories,“ Davis said.

Davis talked about how she was able to educate others during her coverage of the memorial for Floyd; and said that the injustices that Black people endured has occurred since the first Africans landed on American soil in 1619.

“I will use that as an opportunity to say this is actually an issue thats been happening since 1619 and the legacy of slavery. I think I can say that without me in any way implicating my own variance or my own blackness,” Davis said.   

Further, as Moton thinks back to the beginning of his career, he reflects on his journey, and how far he’s come since he’s started and what words of wisdom he could share with his younger self about his blackness. 

“Stand up for yourself when appropriate, don’t be worried about being labeled an angry Black man because they’re going to think that about you anyway,” Moton said.