African Americans who want to be journalists have a hard time affording college. Unlike their mainstream counterparts who have been offered millions of dollars in scholarships, our future journalists in Memphis have as little choice of scholarships. That is where the Memphis Association of Black Journalists comes in. The MABJ is an organization where we promote newsroom equality. We also promote the employment of African Americans into newsrooms and Media organizations from low level to management positions.
The goal of MABJ is to educate future minority journalists about diversity, racism, and equal employment opportunities in the Memphis Mid-South area.
The MABJ started this scholarship fund when one of their well known journalists died of natural causes. This scholarship is a tribute to him and is given to local minority college students.
If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund here is the link to the MABJ website.
Here are some of the locations for the meetings.
The Memphis Association of Black Journalists is a Memphis based organization for young local journalists. Particularly, minority journalists whether experienced or fresh out of school. Some legacy members of the organization include longtime production specialist at WREG-TV Eddie Goss and WREG veteran anchors Alex Coleman and April Thompson who anchor together at 4:00pm.
Montee Lopez is the current president of MABJ. He is a morning show producer at WATN-TV in Memphis. Lopez said the purpose of the organization is to help young or veteran minority journalists network, get though the stressful work week of media, and to serve the Memphis community. MABJ also holds several events to support the organization.
Lopez said that the last fundraiser MABJ had raised about $300 for the scholarship fund. The goal is to give out two $500 scholarships for media based majors.
“We want to support our students and so we have set up this fund for books and supplies,” he said.
MABJ has over 30 members including recurring guest members in the organization.
The organization serves minority journalists throughout the Mid-South including Jackson, TN and parts of Mississippi and Arkansas.
The Memphis Association of Black Journalsits will have their Black Male Media Project event in two weeks. This comes after the Trap Yoga event to raise money for the Bernal E. Smith Scholarship fund.
Montee Lopez the President of MABJ said the focus of the event is to raise awareness to the media as far as black male health, mindset, how they are portyaed in news, and promote HIV and AIDS Testing.
“The goal is to uplift young African American men who are portrayed poorly. Our target is the Frayser area of Memphis where the HIV and AIDS rate are high. We want to promote good health, and promote a better image for our young men.”
The event is scheduled for June 28th, at the Pursuit of God Church on Signal Street in Memphis.
The Memphis Association of Black Journalists sponsored a workout event on May 12. It was called Trap Yoga. Gene Williams a yoga instructor in Memphis lead the class as the members and guests worked out to hip hop music.
The event served three purposes.
May is Mental Health awareness month where MABJ in its previous meeting discussed about the rigors of life in media and how it affects their health. The event was to promote good mental and physical health.
The second purpose of the event was to raise money for the MABJ Scholarship Fund. The fund was to honor Bernal E. Smith II. A well-known Memphis journalist who died in 2017 from natural causes.
The trap yoga event featured some exercises including poses, cardio, and core strengthening. The workout also incorporated flexibility and joint health. The workout took place at 525 N. Main Street at the Old Greyhound Station in Memphis.
Gene Williams originally named the workout Zen Yoga Flow. He named the workout Trap Yoga due to the intensity and the hip hop music. There was a warmup and an intermission. Then there was the intense workout and the cool down. More than 50 people attended the workout and MABJ raised more than $200 for the event.
Wendi C. Thomas a former writer at the Memphis Commercial Appeal discussed her work on MLK 50 on March 3. This was during the monthly MABJ meeting held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis. Thomas touched on many topics including her MLK 50 publications for the Civil Rights Museum. She said the museum did not had editorial control over the project. Thomas’ vision of the project showed how Memphis progressed long after the civil rights movement.
Thomas said Memphis has a high poverty rate, high crime rate, limited access to education, and limited to no access to healthy food. She said there is still work to be done in the area. Thomas also said minority children have limited and unequal access to education. According to a study she conducted she said children are poor because of their parents’ poverty.
Thomas also discussed her journey as a Neiman Harvard University Fellow. She was a fellow three years ago and researched many topics including issues in Memphis, issues in government, and issues in media.
Thomas said during her time at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, she would get unusual story requests from her editor. She said some people at the Appeal would get her to write stories that were in the interest of a mainstream audience. Thomas also said she had earn trust with her sources. She said she could find the best source for a story before anyone could get to them.
Her speech ended with some advice to the young journalists. Thomas said you have to look out for your coworkers and sources. She said young journalists should be aware of what is going on with your newsroom leadership.
The MABJ President Montee Lopez discussed some events happening within the NABJ region. He announced that the Region III NABJ conference would be in Atlanta from April 6-8, 2018. Other announcements included the MABJ Mixer, and the “TRAP Yoga” retreat coming in a few weeks. Vice President Jeremy Pierre also announced a MABJ Producer Bootcamp for the college students coming this summer. There is no set date for the bootcamp.
The Memphis Association of Black Journalists held a forum about minority women in media. This took place on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis. The guest speakers included WREG’s Stephanie Scurlock, WATN Katina Rankin and WHBQ’s Mearl Pervis. All of the women anchored during the primetime slot at 5pm, 6pm, and 10pm.
During the forum, the anchors discussed how they work constantly on their shows. Scurlock said that she was not the first choice as a primetime anchor when Claudia Barr left WREG. “I was working mostly weekends and mornings with Markova Reed,” she said. The station was looking for a primetime anchor. They were considering Markova but if she left mornings the show would crumble. They had other candidates but I was blessed to be chosen as a primetime anchor.”
Pervis said she helps others and she is deeply committed to her job as a journalist. “I love my job and I stay with it since I was a reporter,” she said. “When I am at work, I am like a mother to the young talent that comes in. I always help out the people that I see are working hard. Commitment is key in this business.”
Rankin said she would not trade this job in for anything. Coming from Mississippi, she advised young journalists what are you waiting for. “If I were a young journalist, I would start now in creating my own content,” she said. “I mean what is stopping you. I would shoot edit and write something right this minute if I were you. That is how you make an impression. Get out there and get started.”
The meeting concluded with a donation from the New Orleans Association of Black Journalist fundraiser to MABJ. $200 was donated to MABJ along with $100 from Fox 13 to the organization.
The Memphis Association of Black Journalists will be hosting a screening of Black Panther this Saturday. It will be at the Malco Stage Cinema in Bartlett near the Wolfchase Mall. MABJ is expected to have nearly 175 guests to attend the screening. Montee Lopez the president of MABJ said he is an avid Marvel comic book fan and is excited to see the screening.
Jeremy Pierre, the vice president of MABJ, said the organization wants young people to see a hero or the main hero as a African or African American. He said that this will not only help MABJ but also help the young Memphis community. According to the city of Memphis demographics, the city is mostly populated by African Americans and minorities. Pierre said this gives MABJ and the young people who attends the screening a chance to see a African American character that is not a slave, drug dealer, maniac, threat to society or how the majority race views of them in movies and reality.
The screening is February 17.