Nia Lartey, a freshman at George Washington University, participated in the 2018 Acel Moore workshop. This is her second blog post on her college experience.
College life here in the nation’s capital has been fast-paced and hectic at times. But it also has been exhilarating in many respects.
Full disclosure: I am a journalism junkie, but not all my time is spent keeping up with events of the day or following headline-makers. (In all honestly, most of it is, though.) I’m having fun rolling with the unique ups (such as being in a political journalism hub) and lows (such as DC’s bold rats) of college life.
In late September, my professor allowed us to skip class to go down to the Capitol the day of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. (Who needs livestream when you’re an Uber ride away?)
I stayed up all night to go to the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments for Bucklew v. Precythe Nov. 6, the day of the midterm elections.
After standing outside for three hours in freezing rain and not being one of the 50 people picked to get in, I retreated to my dorm, slept for two hours, and then had the awesome experience of covering the College Republican’s midterm election watch party for The Hatchet (shoutout to my amazing Student Life editor Sarah Roach).
But perhaps the most uplifting and inspirational event for me since my last blog was hearing and meeting Jemele Hill, the former sports journalist at ESPN who now writes for The Atlantic.
“I’m not sure that journalism today is equipped to cover some of the stories that have become so important and integral to our lives,” said Hill during George Washington’s fifth annual Diversity Summit. “In order for journalism and media to cover these stories we have to shed a light on a very significant problem that’s in our business right now” she said.
Hill, who was named NABJ’s Journalist of the Year this past summer, said the problem with current news coverage is twofold. “One is our inability to tell the truth — which is being compromised on an hourly basis — and our problems when it comes to diversity.
“These are the newsrooms that are in charge of covering a world that has changed so much, from a racial standpoint, from a cultural standpoint,” said Hill who co-hosted ESPN’s popular show His & Hers with Michael Smith. “They can’t even reflect what they’re covering or understand the issues that are happening in various communities– issues like voter suppression– when your newsrooms are almost overwhelmingly white. Not that only people of color can understand voter suppression, but just to say that if you’re going to cover underrepresented communities, your newsrooms should look a lot different,” Hill said.
Getting to see journalists that look like me doing exactly what I aspire to do has always been a rarity in my life. It’s why I appreciate such programs as the Acel Moore High School Journalism Workshop and the Asian American Journalists Association’s JCamp. It’s why, in those few instances when I do see such successful individuals, I stop the noise around me to try and soak in their experiences and to hear their plight as journalists of color.
And it’s also why, no matter how much my friends may laugh or people may smile, I’m serious when I say I nearly died when I got to see Hill. What followed capped a remarkable occasion: Hill gave a needy girl a big hug.
In just an hour, Hill reminded me that I not only have a place in journalism but why I continue to write on my college paper, which looks like most America’s newsrooms: nondiverse. I was also reminded when after The Hatchet Fall Conference, after questioning the editor-in-chief of Politico on the diversity of his newsroom, and having him reply that at one point he would have given the organization a “D” rating, and now, although still needing improvement, a “C-”or “B+”.
Sometimes DC has so much going on that I forget I’m a student with classes (but I still go! I’ve only slept through my 8 a.m. yoga class twice! …I think). And while that can be a curse (especially for a procrastinator), I also see it as a blessing to at least start learning how to balance this crazy thing called college life.
Until next time! 😊