VCU Professor Honored for Commitment to Promoting Diversity in Newsrooms

June Nicholson
June Nicholson

June Nicholson, associate director and associate professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Mass Communications, will receive the 2008 Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award on Friday at the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication in Chicago.

Nicholson, a VCU faculty member since 1984, will be honored for her significant contributions over more than two decades to promoting diversity in America's newsrooms through work in scholastic media programs.

"June is passionate about bringing more young people of color into journalism education and the profession of journalism," said Judy VanSlyke Turk, director of the VCU School of Mass Communications. "She has done a remarkable job of pursuing that passion and creating undeniable results."

From 1985 to 2007, Nicholson directed VCU's Virginia Urban Journalism Workshop, an intensive summer workshop founded to provide experience and training for minority high school students interested in journalism. A dozen participants spend two weeks each year at VCU, learning the basics of journalism and producing a 20-page newspaper. The workshop is sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the national Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, VCU and the Virginia Press Association. In 2007, the workshop adopted race-neutral admission criteria.

A number of graduates of the Urban Journalism Workshop during Nicholson's tenure advanced to careers in journalism and journalism education. Among them is George Daniels, assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a 1987 participant in the workshop program.

"Her willingness to not give up is exceeded only by her passion for young people that has lasted for decades," Daniels, who nominated Nicholson for the Knight Award, said in his nomination letter. "It is fitting that we pause to recognize and salute her for the time and talent she has brought to ongoing efforts to make our nation's newsrooms more reflective of the diversity in their communities."

Nicholson is co-developer of the Society of Professional Journalists' (SPJ) diversity curriculum that is part of the organization's newsroom training program, and is a former member of the national SPJ committee on diversity among journalists. She is the chair of national SPJ's International Journalism Committee and served as chair of SPJ's national Journalism Education Committee from 2000-07. She is former president of the Virginia Professional chapter of SPJ and a current board member.

The Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award is given by the Scholastic Division of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication to recognize any media organization or individual who has made significant contributions to promoting diversity through contributions to high school or middle school media programs.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.