George Curry's Challenge to Black Journalists: Be a Thermostat
But, facing a crowd of journalists, students and community notables gathered at the Poynter Institute Thursday for the Griot Drum Awards, it felt like standing at the crest of a giant wave.
Sponsored by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, the Griot Drum Awards featured honors for 15 area journalists who have excelled in covering people of color. We also gave away a $1,000 scholarship and gathered together a host of people committed to the idea of boosting diversity in journalism.
Our keynote speaker George Curry made the biggest impact, explaining how journalists of color must "reject rejection" and fight to excel in an industry which often seeks to marginalize them. He spoke of his longtime friend, now-deceased former New York Times managing editor Gerald Boyd, and how his career was unfairly cut short because of inaccurate rumors that he mentored serial plagiarist and fabricator Jayson Blair. Both men were black, so a connection was made and Boyd's career never survived it.
Most of all, Curry radiated confidence and conviction, recalling how he got a job at Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch refused to send him there. When an editor put him on the night shift to break his confidence, he wrote his first book during the days.
"Young people, I want to ask....are you going to be a thermostat, or are going to be a thermometer?" he said. "Thermometers tell you what the temperature is at any moment. Thermostats set the temperature."
Last night, I felt like a thermostat. Thanks to all the sponsors and supporter who helped make that possible.
Click below to see a full list of this year's Griot Drum Awards winners.
The following journalists were honored with awards at the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists’ Griot Drum Awards banquet Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg.
Print: Deadline/Spot News – Kevin Graham, St. Petersburg Times, “Martin Lee Anderson Autopsy Results.”
Print: Investigative Reporting – Nicole Johnson-Hutcheson, St. Petersburg Times, “In Mines’ Depth, South African Women Find Equality.”
Print: Features – Jeff Klinkenberg, St. Petersburg Times, “Courage and Convictions.”
Print: Community/Public Affairs – Kevin Graham, St. Petersburg Times, “Science Museum Seeks Slave Ship series.”
Print: Sports Feature – Dave Scheiber, St. Petersburg Times, “Hate in the Stands.”
TV: Non-Deadline Reporting – Nerissa Prest, WTVT-Ch. 13, “Lower 9th Ward.”
TV: Community/Public Affairs – Diane Egner, “Manzanas y Peras”
Radio: Spot News – Bobbie O’Brien, WVSF 89.7 FM NEWS, “Students Focus on Non-English Speakers.”
Radio: Features Reporting – Ezzard Bryant Jr., WVSF 89.7 FM NEWS, “NWC: The Rare Show.”
Radio: Documentary/News – Bobbie O’Brien, WVSF 89.7 FM NEWS, “Just Elementary: The Journey Continues.”
Radio: Investigative Reporting – Bobbie O’Brien, WVSF 89.7 FM NEWS, “Testing English Learners.”
Radio: Public Affairs – Bobbie O’Brien, WVSF 89.7 FM NEWS, “Attitude Plus: Election Listing Post.”
Photo: Features - Willie J. Allen, Jr., St. Petersburg Times, “Inspiration.”
Photo: Sports Features - Fred Bellet, Tampa Tribune, “Body English.”
Photo Essay - Willie Allen, Jr., St. Petersburg Times, “Life Outside the Ring.”
The Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists is a non-profit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, dedicated to building unity and strength among the area’s African-American media personnel. Founded as the Suncoast Black Communicators, the group became the Tampa Bay area's NABJ affiliate in 1990, representing journalists of color in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Citrus, Hernando, Polk, Manatee and Pasco counties along the Suncoast of Florida.