Shabazz, of Maryland, works with prize-winning New York Times columnist Rhoden and The Undefeated
By GSU Media Bureau
Miniya Shabazz has been a Grambling State University student less than 24 months and she’s already an editor with the campus newspaper, a reporter with the university media bureau and she’s been published in area publications. Now she’s become a part of the ESPN family.
Shabazz, 20, has joined The Undefeated’s Rhoden Fellowship program. The sports journalism program focuses on identifying and training aspiring African American journalists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Shabazz, a native of Silver Spring, Maryland, is one of only six college journalists chosen for the prestigious opportunity. The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform initiative for sports, race and culture.
As a Rhoden Fellow, Miniya will report, write and record for The Undefeated. The program includes regular conference calls discussing story ideas, reporting, writing, producing podcasts and advising with William C. Rhoden. This award-winning sports columnist recently retired from The New York Times then joined The Undefeated as a columnist, editor-at-large and director of the fellowship program. The fellows were announced Wednesday, March 8.
Shabazz, raised in Laurel, Maryland, started her college journalism career as a freshman, contributing to the campus newspaper, The Gramblinite, then quickly became its news editor. She is a student member of the National Association of Black Journalists and an active member of the Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. When she learned she had been selected, she found it hard to believe.
“I was filled with excitement and disbelief to be selected…because of the well-known and reputable brand of ESPN,” said Shabazz. “I knew instantly that when I got this opportunity that it would be beneficial to my career because of the nuance of gaining experience with writing and reporting on a national level.”
Rhoden was encouraged to develop the initiative by ESPN president John Skipper and has worked closely with Kevin Merida, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of The Undefeated, to make the Fellows a reality. They approached several HBCUs to be fellowship partners and discussed specific students with journalism and media professors and professionals at those schools. Will Sutton, GSU’s director of communications, suggested Shabazz because “she is committed to her craft, dedicated to being one of the best and because she signs up to get assignments done rather than sign in to get credit.” He said she is an up-and-coming journalist who will blossom with the ESPN experience.
“I am very eager to learn as much as I can, to apply it to my own craft, from the award-winning Bill Rhoden and other affiliates because of their years of experience in the journalism business. Now that I have begun to work at The Undefeated I have already started to serve as a liaison from my university to The Undefeated through podcasting and writing stories. I am very thrilled to be working with other young journalists from various HBCU institutions and look forward to the great content I know we will produce together.”
In addition to Shabazz, other college journalists selected include Kyla Wright, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia; Paul A. Holston, Howard University, Washington, D.C.; C. Isaiah Smalls II, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia; Simone Benson, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, and Donovan Dooley, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, North Carolina.
With support from ESPN, the Rhoden Fellowship is a two-year program established as part of The Undefeated’s mission to develop new voices and serve as an incubator for future multicultural journalists. The fellowship is open to outstanding undergraduate students at HBCUs.
During the academic year, the fellows will report news stories from their respective universities and cover the varied facets of HBCU life, serving as on-campus correspondents for The Undefeated’s HBCU vertical. They will produce daily, weekly and monthly multimedia content, as well as serve as on-site beat writers covering sports teams – college or professional – in their respective markets. During the summer, students will work 40-hour weeks at ESPN for 10 weeks, gaining a first-hand education and experience in sports journalism.
The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub, TheUndefeated.com which launched in May 2016, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues.
In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.
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