WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
MEDIA PROFESSIONAL JOYCE E. DAVIS TALKS ABOUT HER CAREER: The Past, Present, and Future
(Pictured above Joyce E. Davis)
By Da’Zhane Johnson
As early as the age of 12, Joyce E. Davis envisioned a career in journalism. When she was in high school, she found herself writing for the newspaper. Her acceptance into Howard University only led to her practicing her craft in greater strides.
Davis’ experience at Howard University proved to be groundbreaking for her future career. She participated in several outlets on campus including the Hilltop, Howard’s student newspaper, and the yearbook. She also participated in five internships during her matriculation. One of the opportunities even landed her at Essence Magazine.
“I was very active. Journalism is practicing your craft. I was writing, writing, writing all the time. And loving it,” Davis said.
Davis’ college experience led to her moving to New York City, where she reported for several outlets including Fortune, Honey Magazine and BET Weekend Magazine. Additionally, she wrote a book titled “Can’t Stop the Shine” under a book deal with BET. The book was named the 2009 American Library Association Popular Paperback for Young Adults
Her career on the east coast was fulfilling, however, she decided to move back home to Atlanta. Davis received a job at Upscale Magazine, where she held various titles within seven years. Afterwards, she transitioned into public relations.
“The internet had a serious impact on the journalism world,” Davis began. “Starting around 2000 and 2001, people were writing blogs, so those who were classically trained journalists were not getting the same level of respect and they weren’t making the same amount of money. I decided I could still do some meaningful storytelling if I was doing public relations, but I was doing it for clients that I believed in.”
For Davis, public relations offered a new form of storytelling that still felt impactful. She co-founded PowerFlow Media and started representing clients. The clients often held a space for social justice change or strived to foster relationships with communities. Davis worked with people like Xernona Clayton and Yanick Rice Lamb, in addition to several events like the National Black Arts Festival.
She spent the next 13 years at Spelman College working in the Marketing and Communications department. What she assumed to be a temporary position progressed into the most rewarding job of her career. Not only did Davis help Spelman College with crisis management, but she also got to promote the institution. In 2021, she left the institution to tackle her current role at Pearson.
At Pearson, Davis helps formulate the company’s narrative surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Her role works internally to inform employees about DEI and how it influences every aspect of the business. Although the topic of DEI has been around for years, Davis recognizes why her role has become significant in recent years.
“DEI has gotten a lot more visibility after the murder of George Floyd,” Davis said, and she goes on to explain two reasons why DEI is so important. “First of all, it’s just about fairness in general. But because the demographics are changing, companies really want the business of these growing, diverse communities. Producing products that meet the needs of these communities can help your bottom line. So, [discussing DEI] is the right thing to do, but there’s also a financial opportunity.”
Her role at Pearson is expanding into thought leadership research for various industries and learning. Furthermore, she will be executing strategic communication work for the company’s virtual learning business.
Outside of her job, Davis hopes to develop four historical non-fiction books that can be published in the future.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE: How Anika Myers-Palm Created the Career of Her Dreams
(Pictured above Anika Myers-Palm)
By Alexia Clark
There are times when you believe something is so right for you until you’re actually doing it. Director of Off-platform and New Audiences programming at CNN Digital, Anika Myers-Palm, did not grow up dreaming of working for CNN. In fact, she graduated from Georgetown University and originally worked in finance. It did not take her long to realize finance was not for her. While contributing to her company’s newsletter articles, the enjoyment of this pushed her to apply for her first role as a business reporting assistant.
“Along the way, lots of people poured into and mentored me. They really made a difference in terms of helping me get my head straight about my career.” said Myers-Palm.
By acknowledging these voices and her inspirations she then began working as general reporter for the Orlando Sentinel. One of her most memorable pieces included reporting on a homeowner’s insurance that many local residents were not aware of.
She enjoyed keeping the community she served informed and engaged. However, there were other avenues that interested her and navigating how to continue to serve herself and all her passions proved to be a difficult experience. As she intentionally moved through, her mind was clouded with doubts and a pressure to get it right that most Black women often face. With the help of her family, mentors, and other members of her community, she pushed through until she secured a job at CNN, approximately nine years ago.
The Florida native’s current day-to-day activities involve working with a team of individuals on newsletters, social media, alerting, and programming for CNN’s news outlets, among other things. Her role also allows her to see the impact on her team’s messaging in real time. The analytics and metrics on how many users move from the push notification to the actual story are the most rewarding aspects of her job.
“When I was an intern on the CNN Digital Programming team in 2019, Anika always provided innovative insight and guidance for anyone she came into contact with. I always looked up to the work she did, especially as a Black Woman in that space,” said Alexis Grace, digital media analyst and journalist.
Away from the keyboard, multimedia professional Myers-Palm enjoys reading and spending time with her family. It is important for her to maintain a healthy work-life balance, as she works for a 24- hour news outlet. She makes it a priority to set healthy boundaries outside of her normal work hours. She enjoys books that provide with her a sense of adventure and escape. She recently finished, “The Light We Carry,” written by former First-lady, Michelle Obama and is currently reading, “Babel,” by RF Kuang.
“I try to read sci-fi, fantasy or romance because it’s not something that I’m dealing with at work, it’s something different and provides me with a sense of balance,” said Myers-Palm.
As a renowned professional she would like to leave young journalists or aspiring media professionals with a message to always pay attention to current trends within the industry and never shy away from opportunities, even if it is just a phone call or an invitation to connect. When she began her journalism career in 1998, the position she now holds did not exist. As the industry continues to evolve, she strives to drive engagement, inspiration and create meaningful messaging for the audiences she serves.
“I am a person who is always up for change and to try new things. I will always be a person who is up for the challenge.” said Myers-Palm.
Myers-Palm also continues to grow and evolve within her career as time passes. She does not know for certain where she’ll be in the next five years. She does know that she wants to be meaningfully involved with her community, continuing to engage her audiences and “inform, delight and surprise,” her readers and viewers.
Alexia Clark is a senior journalism student at Georgia State University.
BLACK WOMEN IN MEDIA: A Celebration of Black Female Journalists Who Paved the Way for Black Journalists Today
By Tianna Faulkner
It is Women’s History Month. There are countless numbers of African American women in America who have contributed to society in various capacities, disciplines, and industries. Media is one of those industries where Black women have made a huge impact, even to the point that some were the firsts in their field. We want to recognize a few Black female trailblazers in media and journalism who have made a difference through their work that has opened the door for so many Black journalists today.
Ida B. Wells was an investigative reporter, educator, and early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Wells was also one of the founding members of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Wells co-owned and wrote for the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper. Her reporting covered incidents of racial segregation and inequality. Wells studied at Rust College and Fisk University. In the 1890s, Wells documented lynching in the United States in articles and through her pamphlets called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, and The Red Record, investigating frequent claims of whites that lynchings were reserved for Black criminals only. Well’s pamphlet was needed to show people the truth about this violence and advocate for justice for African Americans in the South. Wells was outspoken regarding her beliefs as a Black female activist and was active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations. A skilled and persuasive speaker, Wells traveled nationally and in 2020 was posthumously honored with a Pulitzer Prize special citation for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.
Xernona Clayton is an American civil rights leader and broadcasting executive. During the Civil Rights Movement, she worked for the National Urban League and Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where she became involved in the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1967, Clayton became the first Southern African American to host a daily prime time talk show. The show was broadcast on WAGA-TV in Atlanta and was renamed, The Xernona Clayton Show. Clayton joined Turner Broadcasting in 1979 as a producer of documentary specials. In the 1980s, she served as director of public relations for Turner Broadcasting. In 1988, Turner Broadcasting promoted Clayton to corporate vice president for urban affairs, assigning her to direct Turner projects and serve as a liaison between Turner Broadcasting and civic groups in Atlanta and throughout the country. In 1993, Clayton, with Turner Broadcasting, created the Trumpet Awards to honor achievements of African Americans. She serves as the chair, president, and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation that was formed in late 2004. In early 2004, Clayton created the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Clayton is a graduate of Tennessee State University and the University of Chicago. March 2023, she was honored with a statue in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
Ethel. L. Payne was an American journalist, editor, and foreign correspondent. Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” she fulfilled many roles over her career, including columnist, commentator, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Her perspective as an African American woman informed her work, and she became known for asking questions others dared not ask. First published in The Chicago Defender in 1950, she worked for that paper through the 1970s, becoming the paper’s Washington correspondent and an editor for over 25 years. She became the first female African American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories, and worked as a syndicated columnist. In 2022, the White House Correspondents’ Association created the Dunnigan-Payne Lifetime Achievement Award in memory of Payne and fellow White House reporter Alice Dunnigan.
Dorothy Pearl Butler Gilliam is an American journalist who was the first African American female reporter at The Washington Post. When Gilliam was in her first year at Ursuline College (later merged with Bellarmine University) she worked as a secretary for the weekly Louisville Defender, an African American newspaper, and at 17 years old became its society reporter. She transferred to a historically black college with a journalism program, graduating cum laude from Lincoln University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In 1957, she became a reporter for the Memphis Tri-State Defender, part of the Chicago Defender chain. While covering a story about the “Little Rock Nine” in Little Rock, Arkansas, she met an editor from Jet and soon became a reporter for the Johnson Publishing Company’s news magazine. She earned her master’s degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was hired by The Washington Post. She has been an activist dedicated to public service, from her days helping to organize protests against the New York Daily News after it fired two-thirds of its African American staff, to her tenure as president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Gilliam founded Prime Movers Media, the nation’s first journalism mentorship program for underserved students at urban schools. She has been honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Washington Press Club and The National Center for Health Research.
Oprah Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and media proprietor. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which ran in national syndication for 25 years, from 1986 to 2011. Winfrey has been dubbed the “Queen of All Media.” She was the richest African American of the 20th century and was once the world’s only black billionaire. By 2007, she was often ranked as the most influential woman in the world. Winfrey is a graduate of Tennessee State University. She got a job in radio while still in high school. By 19, she was a co-anchor for the local evening news. Winfrey later transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company. By the mid-1990s, Winfrey had reinvented her show with a focus on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness, and spirituality. She has been praised for overcoming adversity to become a benefactor to others. In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and received honorary doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard. In 2008, she formed her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Credited with creating a more intimate, confessional form of media communication, Winfrey popularized and revolutionized the tabloid talk show genre pioneered by Phil Donahue. In 1994, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Winfrey has won many accolades throughout her career which includes 18 Daytime Emmy Awards (including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman’s Award), two Primetime Emmy Awards (including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award), a Tony Award, a Peabody Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award awarded by the Academy Awards, in addition to two competitive Academy Award nominations. Winfrey was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021.
This issue of the Byline was edited by Tianna Faulkner, Vice President of Print for the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists.