Last night, during a banquet at the Nielsen headquarters in Oldsmar, the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists (TBABJ) gave out its annual Griot Drum awards in recognition of outstanding media coverage of people of color, particularly African-Americans.
Creative Loafing writers took home two awards in the under-100,000-circulation print division. Mitch Perry won 1st place in features for his April, 2011 profile of Goliath Davis, the controversial former St. Petersburg deputy mayor. Arielle Stevenson won 1st place in community/public affairs for her June, 2011 story about St. Pete's neglected African-American landmarks.
Other winners included Dalia Colon of healthystate.org and WUSF; Demorris Lee of the Florida Courier and the Tampa Bay Times; Elizabeth Dougherty of Food Nation Radio Network; Keisha Pickett of blackinthebay.com and Power Broker Magazine; Fred Bellet of the Tampa Tribune; and Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times.
The awards presentation, which was emceed by the Times' Ernest Hooper, followed an engrossing panel discussion led by Deggans featuring three local African-American news anchors: Channel 10's Reginald Roundtree; Bay News 9's Erica Riggins; and WFLA's Josh Thomas.
Topics included the divisive nature of the recent presidential election, and the assumptions among some Obama opponents that black journalists were biased in favor of the president (Riggins told an astonishing story about a black female Bay News 9 reporter who was accused during a Romney rally of trying to evoke Michelle Obama simply because the reporter was wearing a sleeveless dress); the importance of diversity in newsrooms; and the slow progress over the last decade in minority representation on local newscasts.
A surprise guest showed up in mid-panel: former (and would-be future?) Governor Charlie Crist, who demonstrated his political chops with an effective stump speech about his support of Obama and his anger at Florida's latest voting debacle.
Mitch Perry, who never stops working even when he's winning awards, was on his laptop throughout the event. Look for his take on Crist and the panel discussion in an upcoming post.
And many congrats from CL to Mitch and Arielle. You make us proud!