Fayetteville State Student Journalists Travel to the White House
A delegation of student journalists from Fayetteville State University arrived in Washington D.C. today for an exclusive tour of local news culture and a meeting with White House press officials and reporters. Made possible by the help of FSU alumni and media officials from around the country, the Bronco reporters from a variety of academic disciplines will learn and share with leading voices in print and broadcast news media, in the heart of one of the nation’s largest media markets.
Included stops on their tour of Washington D.C. are the Newseum, American University’s campus radio station and communication department, meetings with representatives from the National Association of Black Journalists and a black history tour of Georgetown. The trip will culminate in a conversation at the White House with a senior level advisor and discussion with a White House correspondent.
The catalyst for the trip, Fayetteville State professor, veteran journalist and screenwriter Skye Dent, says that many attempts made with a White House contact met at an NABJ conference last summer paid off with clearance for the students to travel, and to gain inspiration.
“It was really a case of asking to be invited. For many of FSU’s students interested in journalism, they need inspiration more than perspiration. We can teach them how to be marketable digital journalists for the media employers of the future. But, an aura of hopelessness is so pervasive amongst college students of today that making them believe that their education is meaningful is…more meaningful when seasoned with inspiration.”
Dent, a journalism graduate of the University of Missouri in Columbia and the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, used her contacts in the journalism and entertainment industries to raise funding and awareness for the trip. What the school lacked in available funds for such an excursion, Dent says, it makes up for in student talent, which immediately stood out to all whom she petitioned for partnership.
“FSU also is different in that it does not have much travel money. Getting the invite was one thing. Paying for it something else. So, I put out the call to my friends near and far. Those who answered range from a best-selling author, to producers from NCIS, The Closer, and Law and Order, to several newspaper publishers, to a State Department diplomat, to a Humanitas Prize Genius. One thing I know about my friends, they care about the next generation even though they are the text generation.”
Charnell Harris is part of that “text generation,” and among the students who arrived in Washington D.C. today. As program director for Bronco-iRadio.com and section editor for The Voice student newspaper, Harris said her experience at FSU has enhanced her passion for the craft.
“I love that every time I’m working on an article, I learn something new and I get to share it with all the readers of the student newspaper. Going out and finding new information is my favorite part of being a journalist. My favorite moment was when I got the chance to interview Judith Jamison. I sat down with her and got the chance to have a conversation with her and told her how much her life’s work meant to me. We talked about everything from her first dance performance to the commemorative Alvin Ailey Dance Company Barbie doll that I fell in love with.”
“It’s conversations and moments like these that makes me glad I chose this field.”
Shante Elliott, Nikki Scott, Matthew Campbell, Brian Ashley Nance, David Antoine, Anna Lee, April Love, Jason Bouley, Quinton Graham, A.J. Hines, and James Jackson join Harris on the FSU press tour. In anticipation of the trip, the students have held regular meetings and discussion on news topics, culture and politics. According to a release about the trip, the students participated in a seminar organized by the Fayetteville Observer on the various roles of editors. They also met every weekend to watch CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ with Dent to become more acclimated with the news of the day.
The District of Columbia Alumni Chapter of Fayetteville State University is hosting the journalists during their stay, and will be hosting a reception for the group this evening. Chapter President Kendrick Faison says that their support was automatic for the future representatives of the institution.
“Anytime we have students that are representing our university that are traveling to the nation’s capital, we support them 100 percent,” Faison says. We want them to know that there are people like them, that understand the hard work it takes to got through college and to rise through the professional ranks. We want them to be able to get the true exposure of the opportunity.
“For the 44th president being African-American, we thought it very vital for us to give any financial support we could to these students. We not only do we do it for these students, but for the gospel and university choirs coming this year, for our basketball teams and others. It was a community affair, and financially backing our students in their preparation to go out into the real world is the least we can do.
Harris expects for this trip to provide more experience and in-depth knowledge about the changing field of journalism. “I want to learn as much as I can from as many people because that is the only way I can come out of school and be competitive,” she says.
As for Dent, she hopes that the students learn that their voices and drive to change the world are still very viable, even within the changing culture of journalism. And that preparation can lead to life-changing opportunities.
“I’ve explained how important journalism was in the making of America,” says Dent. I want them to know that the message may have changed and the medium may have changed, but the making of America is forever ongoing and just as dependent on trained journalists as it ever was.”
“This week I’ve told one story several times. I once sent a letter to the president of CBS News telling him that his journalists knew too much technical information and not enough about how to be a real journalist. He hired me from the west coast and brought me to CBS News on West 57th, where one day I was asked to escort a young singer up the elevator to the set.”
“Her name? Whitney Houston.”