Strength doesn't always come in big numbers. Professor Charles Munro tells President Cameron Coker and JM-C junior Mikkah Sorrell not to worry about the small number of members and to concentrate on what they can accomplish.
The members of the National Association of Black Journalists have a lot to say—they just wish more people would hear it.
Every semester the organization publishes NURU, (Swahili for ‘ray of light’), a newsletter filled with issues concerning both students and the black community, with hopes that more people will pick up the issue.
“With our publication we want to reach as many students as possible, but the majority of our readers are J-School faculty and staff,” said Cameron Coker, NABJ president and a senior from Davenport, Iowa. “We write articles we feel will affect a lot of people, in and outside the black community.”
Both NURU and the organization’s The Daily Iowan Television broadcast, The Word, are looking for more readers, viewers and contributors.
“We want more diversity in our group and in our stories,” Coker said. “We are looking for people of any race that share our focus and want to help out.” Currently all members are black.
“NABJ currently has about 10 members, and they are always looking for new faces,” said Vanessa Shelton, NABJ staff advisor.
The organization gathers every other Monday at 4:30 in the Adler Journalism Building. With guest speakers conducting workshops at nearly every meeting this semester, the organization strives to benefit its members. Speaking arrangements have been made for adjunct faculty members Connie Peterson and Charles Monroe, along with Professor Steven Berry and Earlesha Butler, a graduate student from Pine Bluff, Ark.
“Students and journalism professionals work together, and that allows the students to gain understanding of what editors look for when they hire young journalists,” said Butler, a member since 2002.
NABJ also prepares people who aren’t yet in the program.
“Before I was in NABJ, I was recruited to write for NURU though I had never written a story in my life,” Coker said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had a lot of guidance along with the freedom that comes with a hands-on experience.”
Many people join NABJ for the professional help, others for clips and some for the cause: to make minority journalists feel comfortable and confident in their field.
“For most people it’s discouraging not to see enough faces like them in the field they’re interested in,” Coker said. “NABJ helps people recognize there are journalists of color out there, and that’s why it’s so important.”