Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm Getting Used To Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS-- It's one of the newest airports in the U.S., the first one built since 9/11-- and here at the Indianapolis Airport, I'm getting used to the surroundings.

This weekend, I'm taking my second trip this summer as I attend the SPJ National Convention. In June, I was here for the Scripps SPJ Leadership Weekend.

In two weeks, I'll be back for another meeting on the Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (better known as IUPUI) campus.

Daniels Takes Seat on SPJ National Board

INDIANAPOLIS-- It's definitely a day to remember for me here in Indiana's state capital. This morning I participated in my first Board of Directors meeting for the Society of Professional Journalists.

It was neat sitting between two veteran board members, Jeremy Steele (who I mistakenly thought was a "STUDENT" rep to the board-- SHAME on me! ) and Scott Cooper. Steele represents chapters in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. Cooper is representative for chapters in the states of Oklahoma and Texas.

Yesterday, it just so happens that the president of the Cincinnati SPJ Chapter James Pilcher, in the market where I used to work at WLWT-TV, officially nominated me for the position. The election and installation during the convention business session Saturday was the culminating event to a relatively short campaign that began on this very blog June 19.

You can read all about the issues that I will be tackling as Campus Adviser At-Large.

Being the nation's largest and most broad-based organization for journalists, SPJ is the top of heap when it comes to being involved in the line of work that I chose more than 20 years ago when I went off to college to major in journalism.

It's been almost 20 years since I received a scholarship from the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Sigma Delta Chi (the old name for SPJ). One of the members of that chapter, Bill McCloskey remembers.

Today I joined McCloskey as a member of the SPJ National Board. We both were elected this weekend. He's an at-large member. I'm one of two campus advisers at-large.

The job of an SPJ Board member is much larger than just attending the semi-annual meetings. It's the work we do with the local SPJ chapters and at our regional gatherings as well as with SPJ committees where we can make the most difference.

In two weeks, I'll be back here in Indianapolis as I am a part of an eight-member search team interviewing applicants for the next executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists.

I look forward to serving those who have elected me to this post. But, I also look forward to using this platform to help encourage the students in my own campus chapter to do even more.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Mix of Familiar and new faces takes part in CNN's "Reclaiming the Dream" discussion

Tonight's initial airing of "Black in America 2: Reclaiming the Dream" panel discussion featured some of the same characters from the documentary that premiered last month.

However, after watching it the first time this evening, I see where some new ground was broken.

Same Cast of Characters

When Radio Host, Comedian and Author Steve Harvey was introduced at the top of the two-hour program, my initial thought was 'the same cast of characters.'

Harvey's Father's Day weekend for boys from single-parent homes had been featured in a story previously reported on The host of the "Steve Harvey Morning Show" also took part in CNN's "Moment of Truth" event July 22 in Times Square on the night of "Black in America 2" premiere.

Dr. Steve Perry from Hartford's Capital Prep (featured in Black in America 2: Leaders) and Dr. Pete Thomas from Chicago's Project Brotherhood (featured in Black in America 2: Pioneers) returned for more discussion.

And, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was a participant in the 2008 "Reclaiming the Dream" discussion also returned this year.

Some Different Faces

But, Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin hosted what seemed to be a worthwhile discussion with some new solutions and new faces as well.

This seemed to be more the case in the second hour than the first. I was pleased to see a Public Health expert on behavior science featured in the second hour. The African-American scientist from Louisiana State University helped to put into context some of the behaviors of African American men.

A friend from my days in the Atlanta TV market, Morehouse President Dr. Robert Franklin (who previously served at Emory University's Candler School of Theology) weighed in on several of the education issues along with NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous.

Jealous seemed a little out of his element in the first hour as several of the ministers and communicators were a bit more outspoken. But, he came alive in the second bringing a lot more context to the discussion about health care.

Instead of just talking about charter schools or that black men need to go to the doctor, we heard about some innovative community programs like one in South Carolina focused on AIDS in the African American community.

The Role of Jason Carroll

Having CNN National Correspondent Jason Carroll do "on-location" reports from the Essence Music Festival added a dimension to the co-production. However, some of the earlier segments seemed more like promotion for the festival than contributions to the panel discussion.

In the second hour, he featured students from a new technology school that opens in New Orleans this fall. While the audio in this interview was not great, the students' perspectives added depth to the discussion about education.

CNN set for further discussion about African-Americans Tonight

In a matter of minutes, CNN is set to premiere its 2009 edition of the "Reclaiming the Dream" panel discussion, co-produced with Essence Magazine.

I believe the program was taped last month at the Essence Music Festival.

The two-hour discussion is part of CNN's Black in America 2 series of programs designed to spotlight the experience of African-Americans, a follow-up to a similar effort last summer.

Looking Back at the 2008 Installment

In its effort to "search for solutions" last summer, CNN invited a blue-ribbon panel of "experts" on the black American experience-- Princeton University's Cornel West, Harvard's Roland Fryer, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux and several others.

I missed the program. But, in anticipation of tonight's program wanted to see what was accomplished in the discussion that included questions from the audience.

The main topics addressed seem to be the following

  1. out-of-wedlock births and the number single-parent families
  2. the school dropout problem
  3. AIDS in the black community
  4. suicide among black men
Innovative solutions were spotlighted with some feature stories and interviews with those involved in these programs.

As we look toward tonight's program, I'll be interested to see how much, in any, overlap is there with the individuals in the Black in America 2 documentary that premiered two weeks ago.

(By the way, CNN is now claiming Black in America 2 was the #1 cable documentary)

What's different this year?

One thing that is different tonight is that we have TWO MAJOR CHANGES since last summer:

1) Barack Obama's election

2) Dr. Henry Louis Gates Controversy

It will interesting to see how much attention the first changes will be given in tonight's program. (The program was pre-recorded before the Gates Controversy surfaced)

Also different this year, CNN's Roland Martin will be CO-MODERATING with Soledad O'Brien. Having two minority journalists leading this discussion..two who have very different approaches to addressing race in America..will be interesting.

Well, we're inside of 15 minutes until showtime. So we'll break here and comment more later.