By Oscar Miller
On Halloween, workshop committee members and staff volunteers walked into a delightful treat when they heard from two nationally renowned educators speak on the need for and importance of urban journalism.
In stirring speeches, George L. Daniels, assistant dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama, and Linda Shockley, managing director of the Dow Jones News Fund, spoke about the history and the status of journalism workshops around the country.
Their Oct. 31 visit to Philadelphia Media Network replicated an awards ceremony held in Washington in early August honoring the Acel Moore High School Journalism Workshop for winning a national award for promoting diversity in scholastic journalism programs.
The Robert M. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award, presented by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, in many ways is emblematic of Acel Moore. Moore, a former Inquirer reporter and columnist, was steadfast in his efforts to promote and advance diversity and inclusion in journalism. The workshop he founded in 1985 is a hands-on program that seeks to introduce Philadelphia-area high school students to the fields of print and digital journalism.
“When Acel Moore started this workshop in 1985 — a year before I attended the Urban Journalism Workshop — I believe he wanted to discover people like me. Young people of color who could go on to college and bring some diversity to newsrooms,” said Daniels, a former TV news producer.
“So even though I didn’t know Acel Moore, if he were standing here today, he would be proud that I was able to start a journalism career, graduate from the School of Communications at Howard University and go into journalism — and now have moved into teaching journalism to another generation.”
Shockley touched on similar themes during her address delivered in the company’s Public Space.
“Acel Moore used the platform he created and the respect he commanded to launch a weekend workshop program that mentored hundreds of students for more than 40 years,” she said.
“It was easy to find people who were willing to celebrate Acel Moore’s legacy and the work the committee is doing here in Philadelphia. The stories are heartwarming but there is real work behind this program, the planning, curriculum development, the counseling and the sensitivity to working with youth.”
Shockley noted that the Dow Jones News Fund plays a vital role in inspiring students to consider journalism careers by equipping them with the skills and education they need to succeed.
She said the Urban Journalism Workshop, started by the News Fund in 1968, began in a small way, training 20 black students in journalism by reporting on their cities and the nation.
According to Shockley, the News Fund’s programs grew to reach more than 12,000 students, many of whom are professional journalists and educators today.
One such beneficiary of the Urban Journalism Workshop was Daniels, who as a participant in 1986 discovered his passion for journalism.
“I’ve been on this journey of discovering, encouraging, and promoting the next generation of journalists for a long time,” Daniels said. “It’s my way of giving back what was given me three decades ago as a 10th grader in Richmond, Virginia.”
After eight years in television working as a producer at three stations, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. His research on diversity issues in the media workplace and changes in television newsrooms has appeared in several national industry publications.
“Every year you are involved in the Acel Moore Workshop, you are lighting a spark that can only grow and grow into a fire inside that keeps burning for researching and reporting great stories that make a difference for readers, listeners, and viewers,” he said.
“Every year you are involved in the Acel Moore workshop, you are truly impacting the future of journalism.”
Said Shockley: “I congratulate you on the wonderful work you’re doing. I support you and I celebrate with you as we remember Acel Moore.”