It’s been 25 years since the Chips Quinn Scholars program was founded out of tragedy.
It’s been 20 years since I walked the halls of the Freedom Forum with 54 other students who pursued dreams similar to mine.
The phrase I remember most from this great program is “Care, Care, Care.” It was not just a phrase for caring about your journalism work. It was a lesson that can apply to life in general.
I was blessed to be a part of two of the most influential journalism programs in the nation: The Sports Journalism Institute and the Chips Quinn Scholars program. Both programs encouraged participants to give our talents not only to our craft but also to our industry.
I have been afforded career opportunities I would have never imagined. The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and now Turner Sports have put me in positions to help me succeed in my career.
From leading coverage of the Boston Celtics as the team won its first NBA title in 22 years, to leading my staff in covering the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I have been exposed to covering several major sports stories.
In 2012, I reached my biggest dream – becoming an executive sports editor at a major newspaper – when I assumed that position at the Sun-Sentinel.
Through these career moves, I carried the ideals of quality journalism taught by the Chips Quinn program and the ideals of helping our industry diversify our nation’s newsrooms.
After leaving the Chips Quinn program in 1995, I felt I had to contribute to the journalism community just as John and the late Loie Quinn had done with the program they founded.
The Quinn family represents what groups such as the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association have been fighting for in our industry: ensuring that our newsrooms reflect our communities. Their fight is our fight for every student who was blessed to be a part of the Chips Quinn family.
In 1997, I became treasurer of the New Orleans Association of Black Journalists, an NABJ affiliate chapter, and went on to become NABJ’s 19th national president in 2011. In between, I made it my mission to help the newsrooms where I worked improve their diversity efforts.
At The Washington Post I was known as the young person who gathered the young minority journalists for outings to talk about navigating the newsroom. While there, I became more active in NABJ, running the association’s student programs.
At my next paper, The Boston Globe, I grew as a journalist and newsroom advocate. Over eight years, I helped build one of the most diverse sports departments in the nation while maintaining our excellence in storytelling.
Meanwhile, for the past 13 years, I have served as editor and mentor of the Sports Journalism Institute. I look back on my experiences as a Chips Quinn Scholar as a period when I solidified what I wanted to accomplish as a journalist. I wanted to perform the craft well and to tell compelling stories that reached a broad and diverse audience.
The Chips Quinn program provided a tangible example of what journalism service should look like. My career is a reflection of our program’s ideals.
Thank you Chips, Loie and John Quinn. All Chipsters and the industry owe you a debt of gratitude.
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