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NNPA, Chevrolet join forces to provide opportunity to students

26th June 2017   ·   0 Comments

The 2017 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellows (from left-right): Noni Marshall, Alexa Spencer, Darrell Williams, Tiana Hunt, Ayron Lewallen, Taylor Burris, Jordan Fisher and Kelsey Jones. (Photo courtesy of Freddie Allen/NNPA)

The 2017 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellows (from left-right): Noni Marshall, Alexa Spencer, Darrell Williams, Tiana Hunt, Ayron Lewallen, Taylor Burris, Jordan Fisher and Kelsey Jones. (Photo courtesy of Freddie Allen/NNPA)

By David T. Baker
Contributing Writer

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) has announced its eight recipients for this year’s “Discover the Unexpected” (DTU) Journalism Fellowship.

The program, which began in 2016 with Howard University, is a partnership with General Motors and its Chevrolet brand, kicked off with two days of “immersion” in Detroit, Mich. from June 1-2.

“As a brand, [Discover The Unexpected], ties into our philosophy of finding new roads and ingenuity,” said Michelle Alexander, diversity marketing manager for Chevrolet. “We, as a brand, feel like this is something important that we are committed to.”

During the immersion, the eight students who were selected to participate in the program underwent an orientation about the NNPA, its history and the role of the Black Press in America; General Motors and its diversity and inclusion efforts; and a breakdown of the DTU program itself.

The program provides HBCU students interested in pursuing careers in journalism with the opportunity to work inside a newsroom during the months of June and July. Each of the eight students is paired and placed with one of the four member publications the NNPA has chosen to participate as part of the program. This year’s participating publications are Atlanta Voice, The Carolinian, The Louisiana Weekly and The Washington Informer.

Since its advent in 2016, the fellowship has expanded to include three additional HBCUs – Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman colleges.

The DTU fellows will work alongside editors and reporters in the newsroom and on assignment to gain practical experience in news reporting.

In New Orleans, Tiana Hunt and Darrell Williams are undergoing their fellowship in the newsroom at The Louisiana Weekly, a 92-year-old African-American newspaper.

Hunt recently graduated Cum Laude from Clark Atlanta’s School of Arts & Sciences with a degree in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Television, Radio and Film. She will begin the Masters of Journalism program at Columbia University in August.

“I feel the program would be a great experience for me when it comes to being a better journalist, being a better writer and being more professional,” Hunt said.

Hunt plans to pursue a career in broadcast for an international television network such as B.B.C., she said.

“This fellowship is one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve received thus far,” said Williams. “I applied after being introduced to the opportunity from my friend and doing research on the program. Working with both The Louisiana Weekly and the NNPA, I have an opportunity to write stories that matter most to my community. I’m extremely excited to build my writing skills and contribute to The Louisiana Weekly in New Orleans!”

Williams, a drama major and cinematography minor, is interested in pursuing a career as a creative director. This Fall, he will be entering into his senior year at Morehouse College.

“This opportunity is going to have an amazing impact on my education and career as I’ll be taking away so many connections, lessons and opportunities in the future,” Williams said.

In addition to the hands-on training, each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship towards his or her tuition, a $5,000 stipend to offset living expenses during the fellowship, and the use of a Next Generation 2018 Chevrolet Equinox for one month of their two-month fellowships.

The continuation and the growth of the DTU program comes on the heels of a hallmark in Black journalism. This year marks the 190th anniversary of the Black Press in America, reflects Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president at CEO of NNPA.

“This is an opportunity not just to reaffirm [our] 190-year legacy, but to represent that legacy in new and more profound ways that match the challenges and opportunities we face in our communities,” Chavis said.

This year’s other six DTU journalism fellows are: Alexa Imani Spencer and Noni Marshall from Howard University; Kelsey Jones and Taylor Burris from Spelman College; Jordan Fisher from Clark Atlanta University; and Ayron Lewallen from Morehouse College.

More information about the Discover the Unexpected Fellowship Program can be found at

You can follow news and updates from David T. Baker on Twitter at @Tadfly.

This article originally published in the June 26, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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