Members of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists gathered to swear in the newly elected officers for the 2012-12 cycle and recognized the 2012 NABJ Ida B. Wells Award recipient on Jan. 14 at its monthly assembly
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore began the meeting by swearing in the President and Vice Presidents, but not before explaining the significance of inaugurating these officers on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend.
“I think it is so fitting that this is done among this King weekend, when we reflect on the importance of journalists in the movement,” she said. “We know it was journalists who communicated, who portrayed, who depicted the struggle for all the world to see.”
The officers then repeated the oath recited by Judge Moore, pledging to uphold the Constitution and bylaws of the AABJ. The elected officers for the 2012 year are as follows: Tenisha Bell, President, Eric Stirgus, Vice President of Print, Marcus Foster, Vice President of Broadcast, Rodney Thrash, Vice President of Digital Media, Monica Richardson, Secretary and Clyde Anderson, Treasurer. Bell was elected for a second term as President, and Foster won the only contested race in the elections for VP of Broadcast.
Following the induction, Bell introduced AABJ member and recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award, Michael Fields. He traveled to Washington, D.C. to accept his award on Jan. 26 at NABJ’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
He explained that the award was given in recognition of his management of diversity, in terms of work force and content, as a part of WABE public station in Atlanta.
“[Wells] was an extraordinary journalist and I can’t even imagine all of the challenges that she had to put up with as a journalist and a black woman” he said. “Being a black woman, first of all, in the south in the teens, twenties could not have been easy. Then trying to be an advocate for the things that she was an advocate, needless to say, it could not have been an easy road to home.”
And Fields spoke more about the challenges that he has also faced as a journalist. Although he is recognized for successfully managing diversity now, which he takes pride in achieving, when he began in the business managing diversity basically meant “finding an easier job.”
He started his career working for a black publication in Boston during a time when African-Americans were beginning to move into predominantly white neighborhoods and make claims for political power as well. Living as a journalist while this shift in race relations happened, he was able to learn the relationship between race and power.
He currently manages a staff of nine others that directly represent the diversity that was lacking in the journalism field in his youth, both in relation to the work force and the content covered.
“One of the things that we try to do in public broadcasting is try to do some of the stories that you’re not necessarily going to hear in the mainstream media. Or to take different angles on those stories to try and illuminate them from a slightly different perspective,” he said.
Published in the December 2011/ January 2012 issue of the AABJ Byline: “New Board Draws Crowd” Pg. 9