Digital equity fellowship to benefit Black and LGBTQ news 

by Joe Siegel

News is Out and Word In Black recently announced the 16 fellows selected for their Digital Equity Local Voices Lab, a new initiative sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal to place journalists at 16 news publications serving Black and LGBTQ communities across the country.

During the yearlong fellowship, the journalists will receive training and resources in order to tell stories within marginalized communities through media and technology and celebrate the work being done by Black and LGBTQ leaders in their communities.   

News Is Out fellows (Photo collage courtesy of News Is Out)

The fellows will receive mentorship from journalists and media professionals at News is Out, Word In Black, and NBCUniversal. In addition, they will report on stories of Black and LGBTQ business owners and artists in their communities, share training and resources on using technology more in their daily lives, report on policy related to technological access and connectivity, and share the work being done to advance digital equity.

The 16 fellows are Megan Sayles, AFRO News (Baltimore); Menra Mapfumo, The Atlanta Voice (Atlanta); J.L. Odom, Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco); Melissa Whitler, Dallas Voice (Dallas); Marlissa Collier, Dallas Weekly (Dallas); ReShonda Tate, Houston Defender (Houston); Ebony “JJ” Curry, Michigan Chronicle (Detroit); Leah Mallory, New York Amsterdam News (New York City); Davi B. Ulloa-Estrada, Philadelphia Gay News (Philadelphia); Christine Shelby, The Sacramento Observer (Sacramento, Calif.); Kira Doyle, Seattle Medium (Seattle); Devored Horton, The St. Louis American (St. Louis); Victoria F. Vega, Tagg Magazine (San Diego); Henry Carnell, Washington Blade (Washington, D.C.); Jada Ingleton, The Washington Informer (Washington, D.C.); and Lu Calzada, Windy City Times (Chicago).

“The Digital Equity Local Voices Lab is groundbreaking,” said Dana Piccoli, managing director of News is Out. “Having the opportunity to bring together our two collaborations, Word In Black and News is Out, along with the team at Comcast NBCUniversal, is a truly momentous experience. Covering Black and LGBTQ+ communities is vital and these 16 fellows are already hard at work creating journalism that will uplift and elevate voices in our communities. I’m very proud to be part of the liaison team for this project.”

“Through Project UP, we are proud to donate $1 million to launch this unique, first-of-its-kind program that will support coverage of Black and LGBTQ+ topics in the media as well as emerging journalists with a passion for reporting on issues of importance to these communities,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, executive vice president and chief diversity officer, Comcast Corporation, and president, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation.

“Comcast is one of the earliest corporate leaders in LGBTQ+ inclusion, so it should come as no surprise that they understand the value of local LGBTQ+ media,” said Mark Segal, founder and publisher of Philadelphia Gay News and member of News is Out. “Their investment in our growth is also an investment in the future leadership of LGBT media and intersectional LGBTQ+ media.”

The Local Media Foundation (LMF) is managing the fellowship and facilitating content creation to reach diverse audiences among the 16 publishers, Comcast NBCUniversal and NBCU Academy. Word In Black and News is Out are collaboratives that were launched by LMF. 

In February, the three organizations announced the launch of The Digital Equity Local Voices Lab and application period. According to the organizations, the Lab is part of Project UP, Comcast’s $1 billion initiative to connect people to the Internet and advance digital equity and economic mobility through programs and community partnerships that open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky.

Volume 26
Issue 2

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