This trip first started in John’s office more than a year ago. I was working on a grant application to fund curriculum from the Online News Association and wanted to work with John as a media partner. The grant proposal was to create opportunities for more African-American journalism students to be introduced to foreign correspondence. Despite a long history of foreign correspondence in the African-American community (especially for African-American media), the current corps of foreign-based American reporters is whitewashed and predominantly male.
This is a huge problem for the [journalism] industry. Without representation from other groups, we often miss the stories that mean the most to our audience — the ones that can incite real change in society.
Jessica Sparks is a former political reporter from Indianapolis, Indiana. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She was a Back to the Newsroom Fellow in summer 2014, when she worked in the Wall Street Journal newsroom. She has done work for numerous publications including The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind., AnnArbor.com, CNN.com, Indianapolis Monthly, Hilton Head Monthly, The Island Packet, The Beaufort Gazette, Bluffton Today and the Savannah Morning News. Sparks’ research interests include gender issues in journalism, immersive learning through student media outlets, social media use and engagement.