Building on her experience in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Aiyana Ishmael recently completed the Online News Association’s 2019 HBCU Digital Media Fellowship. Ishmael was the youngest student of five selected from various HBCUs around the country to attend ONA19 from Sept.12-14 in New Orleans. The students fully immersed themselves in the Student Newsroom and Innovation Lab, attending sessions with industry professionals and utilizing digital technology to get the word out.
Michael Grant, the lead mentor for the fellowship and creative director at the San Francisco Business Times, said Ishmael “crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” in her application from really great clips to having an online portfolio that was easy on the eyes.”
“It’s students like her who get the most out of the experience of coming to the ONA conference,” he said. “My lessons are for students like her who are ready to think critically about journalism online.”
The Online News Association is the world’s largest digital journalism association. ONA’s mission is to inspire and support innovation and excellence in digital journalism. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation sponsors the fellowship.
Last year, Ishamel and other Journey staffers won the best publication prize at the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards, when she served as managing editor. This academic year, Ishmael serves as editor-in-chief of Journey magazine. The skills acquired during the fellowship will allow Ishmael to bolster the magazine’s digital offerings.
“I want us to produce more digital content and start branding ourselves more as a digital media magazine. We’re building up content to pitch a digital series called ‘The 411’ for TV-20,” Ishmael said.
“Aiyana is a go-getter,” said Tia Humphries, a senior journalism student at Howard University who also participated in the fellowship. “If she doesn’t know how to do something, she challenges herself to learn a new skill to complete the task at hand. She’s not afraid to try and fail because she knows it’s necessary for success.”
ONA’s HBCU Digital Media Fellowship is one of many ways FAMU students develop their skills in hopes of responsibly leading the newsrooms of tomorrow.
“It’s so important to have opportunities like this for HBCU students to network and have a seat at the table,” Ishmael said. “Newsrooms need diversity. We need people of color to tell their stories.”