CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Wins NABJ Journalist of the Year Award

SAN DIEGO, CA –

NABJ Journalist of the Year and CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent, Soledad O’Brien, offers advice on how to be a successful journalist to CUNY Graduate School of Journalism students.

Amy Stretten with Soledad O’Brien

Last week I had the privilege of meeting CNN Journalist, Soledad O’Brien, whom the National Association of Black Journalists honored with the Journalist of the Year Award at their 35th annual convention and career fair in San Diego, California. O’Brien shared with me what has made her such a successful journalist. “Ultimately what you’re known for is just being solid and incredible. You want to stick out? Then you know what, put your head down and do your work. Be the person everyone can go to. Be solid and consistent.”

Who better to offer advice to incoming and returning J-School students than Soledad O’Brien? As a CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent, as well as a reporter for the CNN ‘In America’ unit, O’Brien has reported on the Black, Latino, and gay experience in America.

Maria de la Soledad Teresa O’Brien who is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists was raised by an Afro-Cuban mother and an Australian father of Irish and Scottish heritage and is the fifth of six children, all of whom graduated from Harvard University. She grew up on the affluent North Shore in the community of St. James on Long Island, New York. Now, a Manhattan resident, she is raising four children with her husband, Bradley Raymond who is an investment banker whom she met at Harvard.

One might say O’Brien has the market cornered, being a journalist who represents more than one community. Her advice on how to report in a growing multi-cultural world is to “Go and see for yourself…The problem when you’re talking about multiculturalism is that people like to sit at a desk and report about a community. Get on a plane and…figure it out! Walk among the people. See where there’s tension, see where there’s joy, see what the real situation is. Have some personal experience because that’s where you’re going to get your stories. Stories are not going to come from reading six articles – they never do. Stories come from saying, ‘Wow! There’s something really interesting going on in my neighborhood. What’s going on there?’ You’re not going to get it from reading. Anybody can tell a good story, but you have to be there to witness it with a recorder.”

In a news release published on the NABJ website, organization President Kathy Y. Times said, “Soledad’s work in the ‘Black in America’ series…was an example of great reporting, and through her work and platform she shared the stories in our communities that often go untold. She is truly worthy of NABJ’s Journalist of the Year honor.” In speaking about her award, O’Brien says, “It’s an incredible honor because I think when you are judged by your peers…it’s very significant. It was a complete shock to be told that I won it. I’m really proud of it. We’ve done some ground-breaking work.”

Ground-breaking work indeed. The second installment of the ‘Black in America’ series, for which O’Brien was primarily being honored, was CNN’s most-watched documentary series of 2009. In it, O’Brien explores the way in which people have gotten involved in their communities to make a significant impact and improve the Black American experience. Later that year CNN premiered ‘Latino in America’ which, in a similar vein, delves into the diverse experiences and obstacles facing the Latino community as well as the impact Latinos have on America.

Speaking about her award further, O’Brien says, “I hope it’s an honor that’s at the beginning of my career and not an end of career kind of honor.” I am most certain this is among many accolades O’Brien will receive for her work. We will be seeing much more of O’Brien this year when her upcoming CNN specials ‘New Orleans Rising’ and ‘Black in America: Churched’ air on August 21 and October 14, respectively.

-NativeJournalist

Advertisements

Michael Steele Cancels NABJ Appearance Last Minute

Sign posted outside the ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego where the plenary pannel discussion was going to take place

SAN DIEGO, CA –

I was shocked not really that surprised to see that RNC Chairman, Michael Steele, was not going to be at this afternoons’s plenary. After spending the early part of my day attending one workshop after another and spending what seemed like forever in the career fair, I really wanted to skip the event altogether and take a nap. But I had a nagging feeling that some sort of drama would ensue – and I wouldn’t miss that for the world! I thought it rather funny (ironic) that Steele backed out and almost hilarious that his people attributed his absence to “food poisoning.” Come on…really?? Give me a break!

Check out the press release NABJ just sent out below:

Michael Steele, RNC Chairman Cancels NABJ Appearance

July 30, 2010 – San Diego, CA – National Association of Black Journalists Convention Convention Chair, Elise Durham was informed by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s advance team earlier that Michael Steele was cancelling his panel discussion scheduled for 4:00 p.m. today because of food poisoning.

The RNC statement reads, “While traveling out West the Chairman came down with a bad case of food poisoning. He is disappointed to miss the opportunity to take part in this valuable dialogue and looks forward to engaging with NABJ in the very near future.”

Steele was scheduled to appear at NABJ one day after former USDA Regional Rural Director Shirley Sherrod indicated that she will take legal action against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who she said caused her to lose her job. Sherrod, who appeared before hundreds of journalists at the NABJ Convention yesterday, was forced to resign after Breitbart posted a video excerpt of a speech she gave to the NAACP and accused her being a racist.

Steele is scheduled to appear at a RNC fundraiser with Breitbart in California next month.

When asked by Durham if there was any relationship between his cancellation and the fundraiser, Special Assistant to the Chairman, Joey Smith said, “We don’t comment on our finance events and never have.”

This begs the question, “Is Steele really suffering from food poisoning or is he trying to avoid speaking to a room full of hungry journalists waiting to pick him apart?”

Hmm…

-NativeJournalist

Documentary explores Native perspective on health care

Rich-Heape Films, the creators of the documentary “Our Spirits Don’t speak English: Indian Boarding School” (a Native American perspective on Indian Boarding Schools) are working on a new project about health care and Native Americans. It is tittled “AMERICAN INDIAN HEALTHCARE: A NATIVE PROSPECTIVE”.

Check out the teaser…

From the Rich-Heape Films website:

“AMERICAN INDIAN HEALTHCARE: A NATIVE PROSPECTIVE”
Now in production!

Rich-Heape Films, Inc. proudly announces their latest documentary, “American Indian Healthcare: A Native Prospective” will be released soon and we are making the following trailer for your review.

On camera presentation by Peter Coyote

Featuring: Ben Night Horse Campbell -Tim Giago – President Theresa Two Bulls – Principal Chief Chad Smith

If you have any questions, comments, would like to pre-order the DVD or just discuss the film, please feel free to contact us to be alerted to the Summer 2010 Release of “AMERICAN INDIAN HEALTHCARE: A NATIVE PROSPECTIVE.” Running time 60 min feature length documentary

Pre Order: “AMERICAN INDIAN HEALTHCARE: A NATIVE PROSPECTIVE”

Rich-Heape Films, Inc. heape@richheape.com
Toll Free: 1-888-600-2922
Or: 1-214-696-6916

Address:
Rich-Heape Films, Inc.
5952 Royal Lane, Suite 254,
Dallas, Texas 75230

Cost:
DVD with Public Performance Rights $149.95 + $6.95 S&H.
DVD without Public Performance Rights $29.95 + $6.95 S&H

This is the same film and production company that created “Black Indians: An American Story” (as seen on ABC) which “brings to light a forgotten part of Americans past – the cultural and racial fusion of Native and African Americans.” “Black Indians” is narrated by James Earl Jones. It’s a fabulous documentary that I saw back in college. The subject is very near and dear to my heart. “Black Indians” has won the following awards and recognition:

Award of Distinction, Indian Summer Festival
Cine Golden Eagle
Communicator Award
Best Documentary, Native American Music Awards
Aurora Gold Award
Bare Bones Intl. Film Festival Award – Best Documentary
Silver OMNI International Award
Aurora Gold Award
The New York Festivals
Cinevue International Film & Video Competition – Best Documentary
Worldfest Houston – Gold Special Jury Award
Gold Catalyst Award

I hope you will support Rich-Heape Films and check out their newest documentary!

…And if you’re reading this Steven R. Heape or Chip Richie, please get in touch with me…I would really like to collaborate!

-NativeJournalist

NAJA Responds to Michael Steel’s Racist Remark

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA – Ronnie Washines, Native American Journalists Association President responds to RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s use of the racial slur, “Injun” (a racial slur for Native Americans) during an interview with Sean Hannity on FOX News. Steele said that the Republican Party platform is “one of the best political documents that’s been written in the past 25 years – Honest Injun on that.”

Washines’ response on behalf of NAJA and the larger Native American community:

“I am thoroughly outraged that the leader of the National Republican Party would use such repulsive language on national television. Those of us in journalism have tirelessly worked to ensure that political leaders, newsrooms and the public be respectful to all cultures when speaking publically. Michael Steele’s scurrilous tongue does no service to his group and only undermines the positive work of those who sincerely seek to respect one another in all of our working relationships. I urge Michael Steele to carefully word a sincere apology to the Native American community, which could help stop such uneducated archaic racist remarks from being made in the future. We here at NAJA are available to assist him and his organization with obtaining an accurate understanding of Native America.”

In case you have not yet seen the video yet, watch it here.

Families USA Health Action 2010 Conference Update!

NativeJournalist.com Press Pass

WASHINGTON, DC – Thus far, the Families USA Health Action 2010 conference has been overwhelming…in a great way! I am a little drained, but so very inspired and excited to do my part in the health reform movement. Below are some noteworthy quotes from speakers at this weekend’s conference:

“We need reform because the current system is fundamentally flawed.” – Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health & Human Services

“Stop letting perfect be the enemy of ‘very good’…our system currently rewards volume over value…insurance companies should be responsible to its policy holders, not its stock holders! Beat back lies and misinformation and make health care reform happen now!” – Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

“Women pay 48% more for health care coverage”…Why this issue matters if you think it doesn’t: If you have health care coverage today, you might not have health care coverage tomorrow! – Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)

“People who talk about family values, don’t value families!…Keep it broad; health care is just one part of the human rights movement!…When we think ‘all’ or ‘nothing,’ we usually get nothing.”- Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP <- This man is AMAZING!!!

Upcoming weekend events: "American Indian Health Policy: Where We've Been and Where We're Going" with Jennifer Cooper, National Indian Health Board; Michael Mahsetky, Indian Health Service; Cara Thunder, American Indian Community House as presenters and Donald Warne, Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairman's Health Board as the moderator. I'm really looking forward to this workshop! I will be sure to let you know all about it!!

…That's all for now. More to come!

-NativeJournalist

Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night President Barack Obama spoke to Congress and the nation during the annual State of the Union Address. Check out the video below if you missed any of it or want to hear it again. Topics covered were: the economy, including the stimulus bill and jobs; the environment, including the energy and climate bill; education, including tax credits and pell grants; health care, including Michelle Obama’s plan to end childhood obesity and the health care bills; defense, including national security and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; and, discrimination, including equal pay laws. As usual, Obama supporters were enamored by his eloquence and inspiring and encouraging words. Unfortunately, not all members of congress were as excited about what the president had to say. There were many members of Congress who stayed in their seats while the rest of the house gave Obama a standing ovation.

I had the privilege of watching the address while in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill at the Hyatt Regency hotel with the Health Action 2010 conference.

More to come…

-NativeJournalist