Bryan Monroe Wins NABJ Presidency PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joi Gilliam and Kendrick Marshall - Black College Wire   
Friday, 05 August 2005
Photo credit: Darryl Smith
Bryan Monroe, left, defeated Cheryl Smith and Mike Woolfolk

Winning about 41 percent of the vote, Bryan Monroe defeated two opponents Aug. 5 to become the new president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Student members elected Mashaun Simon, a student at Georgia Perimeter College in Clarkston, Ga., their representative to NABJ's board of directors.

The NABJ chapter at Northwestern University was named student chapter of the year. Among other achievements, the chapter was cited for producing a guide to attending last year's Unity conference, and workshops on Unity for student members.

"It's unreal," Simon said of his election. "I'm relieved. I'm excited. I'm excited for what's about to happen in the organization."

High school students become eligible for membership in NABJ, as professional members passed a constitutional amendment with about 81 percent of the vote. Two-thirds of the vote was needed to pass.

Herbert Lowe, departing president, said, "I believe this is going to be a pivotal moment for NABJ. There are many, many high school students who will take advantage of this. We need high school kids thinking about journalism and NABJ is a great resource."

Brandon Pitts, 17, a high schooler and aspiring sportswriter and food critic who was seated in the banquet room as the announcement came, said, "I think it will become something important as time goes on."

"It's a rite of passage to be here," said the son of syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts. "I'm able to get more information. The association is a network of professionals."

The unofficial election results were announced at the NABJ Hall of Fame Banquet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, site of the 30th anniversary convention. The board of directors must ratify the results, said John Hanson, elections chairman.

The Monroe presidency begins Sunday. Monroe, an assistant vice-president for Knight Ridder and current NABJ vice president for print, campaigned saying he wanted to revamp the organization's media institute, a professional development program; keep the organization financially stable and fight for journalists' First Amendment rights.

An estimated 600 people voted in the presidential race, Hanson said. Cheryl Smith, a talk-show host for KKDA-AM in Grand Prairie, Texas, received 33 percent of the vote. Opponent Mike Woolfolk, anchor/managing editor of WACH-TV in Columbia, S.C., received about 26 percent.

About 150 students voted in the election for student representative. Simon garnered 71 percent of the student vote, defeating Walter Gabriel, NABJ chapter president at Louisiana State University.

Simon said he would work to make every NABJ student chapter stronger and involve more students in local decision making.

He has been chapter president of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists Student Consortium and is co-founder of the NABJ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Task Force.

Simon's platform urged creation of a high school training program. He said the organization would have to determine whether he would now represent the youngest student members, along with the current 1,295 college members.

"I have benefited from this organization and now I want to give back what I have learned and grown from," Simon said.

About 300 members voted electronically or by mail before the on-site balloting at the convention, where election officials battled computer glitches that delayed some voters and prevented others from voting.

At the polling place in the hotel, some were informed that their member identification numbers were invalid. Others were told there was no listing or record of their membership. Some members were not on file as being full members; the record showed at least one listed as a non-voting associate member.

"I hate that I can't vote, but I can't be around all day," said Bonnie Davis, former Region 3 director who is now a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, outside of the polling room. "Obviously, there is something amiss."

The voters also elected several candidates who ran uncontested for positions on the board of directors:

Melanie Burney, parliamentarian

John Yearwood, treasurer

Sarah J. Glover, secretary

Ernie Suggs, vice president/print

Barbara Ciara, vice president/broadcast

Two additional constitutional amendments passed. One addressed the membership guidelines for a small number of members whose status had been upgraded from associate member in 1992. The other addressed procedures and guidelines related to proposing amendments to NABJ's constitution.

Joi Gilliam is a senior at Howard University. Kendrick Marshall is a senior at Jackson State University.

Posted Aug. 5, 2005

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