NABJ Gives Back to the Future of Journalism

Reporter/Anchor Brandon Pope (president of NABJCC) and TV producer Poinesha Barnes (NABJCC events and fundraising chair) address attendees of the recent NABJ-Chicago Academy.

The term “each one teach one” was put into full effect when the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists hosted their NABJ-Chicago Academy where they provided a day of training and tips from media professionals for college students.

The event featured a panel of tenured journalists from various organizations such as CNN and NBC. Conversations were stemmed from audience questions which ranged from mental health to being a person of color in this line of work.

Brandon Pope

Other parts of the discussion included unpaid internships, struggles, and obstacles on the journey of being a journalist and finding your way in your career.

Lunch was sponsored by Lou Malnatis and Eli’s Cheesecake. Other sponsors included True Star, Audacy and 670 The Score. While having lunch, attendees were able to network and talk with the panelists and fellow journalists while enjoying a photo booth.

After lunch wrapped up, we went back in for another discussion hosted by Brandon Pope, president of NABJCC, and Poinesha Barnes, events and fundraising chair for NABJCC. They presented a slideshow about creating professional and attractive reels for employers.

True Star participants (front row, l-r) Cierra Lemott, Isreal Wilson, Tyrese Zeigler, Chirstopher Lockridge, (back row, l-r) Jada Strong, and Tricia Thomas were on hand to capture highlights and take part in the NABJ-Chicago Academy.

Kalia Butler,  a 22-year-old recent graduate of DePaul, is one of the attendees who benefited from the event. “What resonated with me was everyone telling you to stay true to who you are. Obviously when you are trying to make a certain resume, portfolio, stuff like that, you might try and change certain things about yourself. When you’re actually in the industry, staying true to who you are is probably the most important part to success.”

Professionals in the field of journalism shared their experiences and answered questions about the industry. Speakers included Alicia Sitz, Mica Alexis, Adrienne Broaddus, Jason Piscia, Jen BT, Craig Schwalb, Tony Smith and Akemi Harrison.

Toward the end of the event, Barnes, who is also the special projects EP producer for ABC 7, mentioned that she was pleased with how everything turned out. “I think it was amazing!” she said. “We have a great turnout… the room is full, people are talking, people are networking, and that’s the reason we threw this event.”

Overall, the NABJ-Chicago Academy was extremely helpful and provided attendees with lots of future connections. The panelists dropped lots of gems and information that I’ll personally be using in my journalism career moving forward. Tips like networking across, stepping out of your comfort zone, and finding your voice really resonated with me. I hope to see more events like this in the future for college students who are pursuing careers in journalism and similar fields.


By Cierra Lemott, Senior, Columbia College Chicago

Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera

*Jada Strong contributed to this article.


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Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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