'It wasn’t until Voices that I worked with a minority-majority team'
2017 Student Testimonial: Sheila Raghavendran
I’ve lived all my 20 years in America’s Heartland. Because of that, I’ve been in several rooms – classrooms, newsrooms – where I am one of few people of color. It’s afforded me an inevitable toughness.
It wasn’t until Voices that I worked with a minority-majority team.
Over the summer, our class logged onto weekly virtual training sessions with minority professional journalists. One week, we talked with a journalist about how to combat prejudice in newsrooms. We shared challenges we faced as minorities in our newsrooms, and the minority journalist gave us sympathy and advice on how to speak up.
For me, speaking up had often been a lonely responsibility – talking with the group was a realization of solidarity. It was comforting and motivating.
That motivation only gained momentum from my group’s story. Over three months, we tackled an ambitious investigation into America’s newsroom diversity, fueling our adrenaline each time we scored another morsel of information or fiery quote. We talked to minority reporters and editors, inadvertently previewing what could be our future experiences as minority journalists.
Our Voices faculty championed us through the deadline. We posted the story at the end of a 15-hour day, with a memorable burst of excitement and relief.
My favorite moment of the program came when my class sat together and presented our stories in front of AAJA members. We finally had something profound to show for our months of deep reporting on minority issues. I smiled watching my classmates light up talking about their work. They revealed fascinating information and gracefully answered tough questions from the audience.