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Commitment to Diversity

As I mentioned at the beginning of my portfolio, being a journalist means loving people no matter who they are, what color is on their skin, their disability, who they love, etc. It’s not enough to just treat people the same. Being a journalist means interacting with people who don’t look like you and don’t believe the same things as you, and still giving them a voice is imperative. Without including the range of lived experiences from all people, we fail to serve parts of our communities. Journalism should be produced for the benefit of all, not one specific group. 
Grant Johnson poses for a photo with students in the functional academics program after inviting them to watch the HTN Daily holiday special on December 18, 2020.
After doing a story about the Best Buddies program during my sophomore year, I connected with several of the students in the Functional Academics program and spoke with them when I saw them in the hallway on a regular basis. After moving to my new school, several of the students moved over and at the beginning of the year, I saw them in the hallway. I decided that I wanted to involve them as much as possible in our media program because I felt they were very underrepresented in the school. I did a story about them at the beginning of the year and made sure they were included in the opening sequence of our show. In December we invited them to be a live audience for our holiday show and after the show, I gave them a tour of our space and let them try out being on the news. I think it is so important that every student group is represented in our program.
Trois Murphy is a beautiful soul that I have known since middle school. Her quiet yet ambitious nature made us connect in our years in high school after she joined the broadcasting team. During our junior year, Trois was a reporter for ENN and consistently produced quality stories but never ventured on camera. During the lockdown, Trois made her way in front of the camera during our Pandemic Program show and I saw her personality unleash and she thrived in front of the camera. In our senior year, I
made it my goal to give her the opportunity to show her personality to the school in the HTN program. I knew she had a personality hidden under her shy self, so I made her the host of the HTN Daily live show. Along the way, I saw her overcome several of her insecurities, including her dyslexia. I could not be more proud of the person is now. She has become a source of information that students trust can trust, and I have seen her inspire others to step out of their comfort zones. 
Click here to read a statement from Trois.
The second-floor collaboration space of Rock Hill High School is lined with flags of all the nations represented in the student body. Fourty seven flags are displayed for students and visitors to see when they enter the building. After seeing this display I became curious about meeting the people who are represented in those flags and figured other people were too. Along with producer Madison Wells, I came up with a series called "Faces Behind the Flags" allowing students to meet the students behind the flags. I felt that the series was the perfect place to unite the cultures of the school and show how many different cultures are represented in our student body.
Lucy Mokua is from Kenya and is one of the Faces Behind the Flags.
flags still.jpg
This story is one that I did for the Hill Top News show after hearing about the cafe from one of the Functional Academics teachers at my school. Journalism has always been about the people for me, and the three people that I met while telling this story are inspiring. After interviewing one of the employees, Laine Harden approached me and told me that he wanted to be a news anchor when he was in high school but gave up on it. I told him it's never too late to follow his dreams, and his response floored me. "I think you should keep following your dreams because I was too scared to."
For me, journalism was never about being in front of the camera or being recognized for the stories I tell, but that day was a reminder that it's the people I meet that make journalism my dream job. I will never forget Dwayne or his dreams.
I find it disappointing that it took my district this long to highlight Black excellence through a virtual program of this form, but I am thankful that I could be a part of the start of it. Rock Hill High School and Prosper High School came together to create a program that showcased the rich culture and innovations of the Black community, and it was played for every high school student. My role for this production was editor and producer, and I found it challenging to coordinate close to a dozen acts between two different production teams and making it all come together with the same feel at the end. I would be wrong if I did not acknowledge
Click the graphic above to view the presentation.
some of the program's flaws, and anyone who watches might notice that the program failed to recognize the timeliness of issues, but that is okay. The wheels of change are slow to move, and thanks to our team's work, PISD got its first real kickstart with this program. I am proud of the trailblazing effort to start something new and am faithful this is just the beginning.
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