HBCU student, alum interview national news presidents

By: Demetrius Benjamin

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosted a leadership series recently featuring President of ABC News Kim Godwin and MSNBC President Rashida Jones. 

The Leadership Series gives people a chance to grasp an idea of what it is like to run an entire newsroom. Jones and Godwin took time to describe their career journeys and discuss some of the methods used to remold the modern outlook on the news business at their respective companies. 

In this series, Jones and Godwin were interviewed by Sara Avery and Sierra Lyons. Sara Avery is a senior Journalism student at Hampton University. She is a Political Science minor,  a member of the Freddye T. Davy honors college, and incoming co-executive producer of WHOV TV and radio. Sierra Lyons is a recent graduate of Florida A&M University and is currently a freelance journalist covering race, injustice, politics, and Christianity. 

There were many great points made by everyone involved in the series, however, one of the first and most important points was made by Kim Godwin when asked how she chose journalism as a career. “Everyone’s walk is different, you have to own your own story,” Godwin said, “I did not grow up wanting to be a journalist, I grew up wanting to be the best that I could be.” 

Rashida Jones recollects the desire to be a storyteller, but thought print was the only way to do it, as she knew nothing of TV broadcasting. She spoke about how that led her to choose production as a career path. 

“It was a combination of story-telling, story selection, setting the agenda, and also being a leader,” Jones said when describing her interest in producing. 

As African Americans in the workforce, specifically black women, Godwin and Jones have faced their fair share of hardship in the workplace being the minority. 

When asked what words of wisdom she would give to black women who follow behind her in this industry, Kim Godwin said “Own your story, own who you are because it is your value in a newsroom,”

 “Your life experience is just as important as anybody else’s. It brings a different perspective and that is important to the conversation,” she added.

Both Ms. Lyons and Ms. Avery were ecstatic at the opportunity to share words with such prominent figures in the industry. 

“A reoccurring piece of advice I took from both Mrs. Godwin and Ms. Jones was to dream bigger. Both mentioned that as college students they aspired to positions that they’ve now exceeded tenfold. Sometimes we put ourselves in a box, believing there’s an extent to which we can achieve. Both women are evidence that if you eliminate the metaphorical box, the sky is truly the limit.” said Ms. Lyons when asked about the best career advice she received from Ms. Godwin and Ms. Jones. 

Ms. Avery provided a similar response to the same question. “The best advice they gave, which was a theme throughout the conversation, was to enjoy the journey of your career and to dream bigger because you are capable of doing and being more than you could ever imagine.”