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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

The Griot Drum Awards, Tampa Bay's only journalism awards, held tonight

20

November

I was talking with bay area radio host Mark Larsen about his decision to wear blackface the day after Barack Obama won the presidency, when he brought up the volunteer group I lead, the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists.

He criticized the group's mission and name, offering a typical retort: What if there were a National Association of White Journalists?

But at a time when more than 40 percent of newspapers don't employ any people of color, do you really need an NAWJ?

Griotdrumlogo2008copy The simplest answer, is that our group's name describes our focus, not a membership rule. We're working to help media outlets diversify their workforce, so they can better cover an increasingly diverse nation. And our ultimate expression of that effort is tonight's fourth annual Griot Drum Awards and Scholarship dinner.

Since the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists stopped its awards ceremony years ago, our Griot Drum Awards is the only local journalism awards contest left, highlighting Tampa Bay area media outlets that have excelled in covering issues relating to people of color.

In tonight's ceremony, we're going to hand out $3,000 in scholarships to students of color preparing toMcewen_mark be journalists. We're also giving out 23 awards for quality journalism, featuring a keynote speech from former CBS This Morning anchor Mark McEwen, a performance from the Soulful Arts Dance Academy, a presentation on the youth photo exhibit Midtown Through Our Eyes and a program hosted by ABC Action News anchor Deiah Riley.

Tickets are still available for the evening -- which starts with a 6 p.m. opening reception and a banquet starting at 7:30 p.m. -- are priced at $30 for TBABJ members and $35 for non-members, a bargain for a fundraising gala. It all gets underway tonight at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, 801 Third St. S, St. Petersburg.

The psychology here is simple: We think you get more results with honey than vinegar, encouraging journalists of all stripes to pay a little more attention to people of color by handing out kudos to those who have done it well. Join us to see bay area notables honor a journalism value as important as accuracy or freedom of speech: diversity.

Click below to see the finalists for this year's awards and scholarship winners.    

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Here's the list of finalists for tonight's Griot Drum Awards:

Matt McGlashen, WFTS-Ch. 28, five categories.

Dennis Hollingsworth, WTSP-Ch. 10, one category.

Susan Casper, WFTS-Ch. 28, one category.

Ginny Diaz, WFTS-Ch. 28, one category.

Jackie Callaway, WFTS-Ch. 28, one category.

Brendan McLaughlin, WFTS-Ch. 28, two categories.

Spencer Briggs, WEDU-Ch. 3, one category.

Jen Noble, WEDU-Ch. 3, one category.

Robyn Fedorovich, WEDU-Ch. 3, one category.

Tom Lake, St. Petersburg Times, two categories.

Jamal Thalji, St. Petersburg Times, two categories.

Molly Moorhead, St. Petersburg Times, two categories.

Julie Kumari Drapkin, St. Petersburg Times, two categories.

Stephanie Garry, St. Petersburg Times, one category.

Demorris Lee, St. Petersburg Times, one category.

Rodney Thrash, St. Petersburg Times, one category.

Carrie Pratt, St. Petersburg Times, three categories.

Lara Cerri, St. Petersburg Times, three categories.

Sarah Hoye, Tampa Tribune, three categories.

Michelle Bearden, Tampa Tribune, one category.

Anwar Richardson, Tampa Tribune, one category.

Nicholas Williams, Tampa Tribune, one category.

Fred Bellet, Tampa Tribune, four categories.

Joseph Brown III, Tampa Tribune, one category.

Charles Cherry II, Florida Courier, six categories.

Wade Tatangelo, Creative Loafing, one category.

Alex Pickett, Creative Loafing, one category.

Megan Voeller, Creative Loafing, one category.

TBABJ members chose this year's scholarship winners from its largest field of candidates yet; applicants needed only be high school or college students of color studying journalism or preparing to study journalism in college with a connection to the Tampa Bay area.

The three honorees each will receive $1,000 scholarships and one year's paid membership to both the TBABJ and the National Association of Black Journalists.

They also will be honored during our Griot Drum Awards banquet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20 at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg. Please join us in congratulating the winners:

Jacquelinehaberman Jacqueline Haberman is an intern at WUSF, the public radio station at the University of South Florida, where she is a senior. She spent her summer serving as arts and entertainment editor for The Oracle, USF’s student newspaper, and also previously interned for AARP, where she helped establish a presence of the organization’s Divided We Fail campaign on university campuses across the state. In her scholarship essay, Jackie analyzed the role race played in media coverage of this year’s presidential elections. She criticized the media for labeling groups of voters by their ethnicity and assuming voters shared similar views because of their race.

Maza Erik Maza calls Bradenton home, but this University of Florida senior has already placed international work experience on his resume. Erik recently returned from Guatamala, where he was among a dozen student writers and photographers documenting stories of hunger and malnutrition. He spent his Spring 2008 semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, as part of the English degree he is completing along with his bachelor’s in journalism. His byline has appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Gainesville Sun and as he has worked as a stringer for the Associated Press. In addition to his many talents, Erik is also fluent in Spanish and speaks Italian.

Christinaramos A 2008 graduate of Wharton High School in Tampa, Christina Ramos is in her first semester at the University of Central Florida. While at Wharton, Christina traded lunch time with her friends to work on stories and page design for her school newspaper. Christina had a busy senior year at Wharton. She served as president of her school’s National Honor Society, chairperson for her Senior Class Council and volunteered through Key Club. She graduated with a 4.9 GPA. Terry Sollazzo, Christina’s high school newspaper adviser, said, “She sets goals for herself and is relentless in pursuing those goals. She seeks out the truth and reports it fairly. In other words, she is just what this industry needs.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:53pm]

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