BABJ’s Tramon Lucas, Nicki Mayo, Benét Wilson and Vance Brinkley.


Members of the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists were well

represented at the Online News Association annual conference in

September. But one of the most exciting parts was that two Baltimore

students won the opportunity to attend the conference for free.

Vance Brinkley and Tramon Lucas


Vance Brinkley of Morgan State/Bowie State University and Tramon Lucas

of Morgan State University were among the six students chosen as HBCU

Digital Media Fellows, a special ONA diversity program funded by the

Knight Foundation. The program, overseen by BABJ chapter member

Benét Wilson, chooses six HBCU students to participate alongside ONA’s

Student Newsroom.

“As ONA’s diversity chair, programs like this are important to me, since

online media companies are still struggling to bring journalists of color into

their newsrooms,” said Wilson. “The HBCU Fellowship Program gives

these students special training and puts them in front of hiring managers for

future internship and job opportunities.”

The fellows received special digital training from Michael Grant, Senior

Digital Designer at the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis and got to speak with

movers and shakers in the digital news industry in special sessions.

Lucas’ video piece, “ONA attendees of color discuss diversity in

newsrooms,” included commentary from BABJ President Nicki Mayo and

AAJA President Paul Cheung.

In his piece, “Social’s evolving impact on

journalism,” Brinkley used the example of how Pulitzer Prize-winning

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery is using social media as part of

his storytelling.

The fellows were also the guests of honor at the conference’s must-attend

event, the Knight Foundation party.

“Seeing our BABJ student members not only at ONA16, but as fellows

makes my heart melt. They are taking the phrase ‘BABJ Baby’ to another

level,” said Mayo. “I love that they are starting off their careers as

multimedia journalists unafraid of trying out new news gathering tools and

unattached to one singular kind of news medium.

BABJ President Nicki Mayo at ONA16.

“I can’t believe this was my first ONA. I should have been there sooner,”

said Mayo. “The reality is most of our newsrooms are experimenting with

virtual reality, drones and automation. The best thing we can do is arm

ourselves with the tools to keep us relevant and necessary in these ever

changing newsrooms.”

The ONA conference showed there are so many journalists like me that

enjoy spicing things up with various storytelling and information gathering

methods, said Mayo. “I’m going back for sure.”

The next ONA conference is scheduled for Oct. 5-7, 2017, in Washington,

D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the same place where NABJ

was held this year. Since the event is so close, it would be great to see

BABJ members there to see how ONA is training and preparing digital


NABJ officers and members at ONA 16.