STARS ON THE RISE: A NEW GENERATION OF ATLANTA JOURNALISTS MAKING THEIR MARK IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY
The April issue of the Byline features three Atlanta journalists who share their stories of passion and perseverance, transitioning from college to pursuing their professional dreams as Black women in media. Taking risks, getting out of their comfort zones, becoming experts in the industry, and experiencing some successes, these women demonstrate that anything is possible if you work hard, believe in yourself, and go for it.
(Pictured left, MiAsia Symone)
The Power of Passion: MiAsia Symone is Pursuing Her Journalism Dreams on Her Own Terms
Started from the bottom and now she’s here! From blogging to her first and worst interview, MiAsia Symone let all of her experiences — good and bad — propel her into a top 10 market! This multimedia journalist is succeeding in a variety of fields— radio, event hosting, social commentary, and more —without letting her doubts get in the way.
Now while her path to success may seem like a straight shot, the multimedia personality notes that her journey is not as easy as it looks. Symone was born and raised in Atlanta and graduated from Georgia State University in 2016. In addition to her work ethic, her attitude and charisma, she has also kicked down doors. Symone takes pride in being personable. It is one of the most essential characteristics that has helped her be successful within her field.
“It gets easier over time, but I still have those doubts in the back of my mind, like am I doing this right? Do they really like this? Am I really doing what I’m supposed to do?” shared Symone.
Symone is a host and board operator at Atlanta’s radio station, Hot 107.9 FM.
Beginning as a freelance journalist, blogger, and host, she has collaborated with several media outlets, companies and interviewed some of the most notable names in hip hop and entertainment.
Her background helped her start her own platform, inspired by her parents who both owned and operated businesses together. She grew up in a middle-class household and seeing her parents work hard for her and her siblings sparked the fire that she embodies.
“I want to continue his [my father’s] legacy. He lived a great life and instilled a lot into me. I’m very knowledgeable because of him so I remember everything he taught me,” said the entertainment radio host.
Symone’s career was boosted by her all-encompassing passion for sports, entertainment, and popular culture. Her work was recently recognized by the Georgia House of Representatives as she was awarded the Citizens of Impact award.
This journalist loves her day-to-day and the ever changing climate of radio. The early mornings and sometimes hectic schedule does not bother her one bit as long as she has a glass of wine to end the day.
“My goal is to always display and show that I’m human too,” Symone said.
Symone is also a brand influencer and has collaborated with notable brands such as FedEx, Netflix, NARS Cosmetics and more. Even though she’s not the biggest fan of social media, she has achieved over 30 thousand followers on Instagram and the number continues to rise.
“If you’re not consistent, nothing gets done, but you have to be consistent. It’s so many days where you just want to lie in bed and not do anything. But if you’re not doing anything, then nothing is moving. People aren’t seeing you, and so we live in a society where if you aren’t posting it, it never happened,” explains Symone.
This emerging talent isn’t going anywhere. Between her nomination for Journalist of the Year by Black Media Honors, hosting and future auntie duties, it seems she has no intention of taking her petal off the gas any time soon.
Whenever her life settles down, she dreams of owning her own winery and learning more about the wine industry. Symone curating an unforgettable experience like no other.
“You know, a glass of wine a day, keeps the doctors away,” she said.
To keep up with this multifaceted personality, checkout her website https://www.miasiasymone.com and follow MiAsia Symone on all social media platforms.
(Pictured left, LaShawn Hudson)
Skilled & Striving: LaShawn Hudson’s Journey to Being a Multi-Platform Journalist
Being well versed in your career or passion is something that we all strive for, especially as journalists. The constant desire to be better and expand your skills is a never-ending journey and LaShawn Hudson knows that all too well. As a multi-platform journalist and current producer at WABE-FM radio station in Atlanta, there were many leaps of faith and many desires that led Hudson to where she is today.
As a young girl, she became interested in Essence magazine where she would read the letter from the editor-in-chief and instantly envisioned herself in that space.
“I didn’t make the connection that it was journalism until I was older,” says Hudson. “But I knew that whatever these women in this magazine were doing, that’s what I wanted to do.”
Hudson went on to get a degree in mass communications from Virginia Union University and once she graduated, she faced some of the difficulties that many college graduates face who want to work in journalism, a tough industry to break into. After working a part-time job and interning at the local newspaper, where she would see her bylines all the time, she gave herself the ultimatum of chasing her dreams or being stuck at a job she did not enjoy.
She remembered the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) organization from college and did her research to find a chapter and get involved. Happily stumbling upon the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ) and conveniently having family in Atlanta made the decision that much easier for her to move to Atlanta. Taking a leap of faith, Hudson moved to Atlanta from Virginia and started to freelance for the Atlanta Voice Newspaper while transitioning into the city. Once Hudson moved to Atlanta and went to her first AABJ meeting, she knew that she was in the right place and had made the right choice.
“It just felt like home,” says Hudson. “Because I saw people doing the things that I wanted to do and I realized that I needed to be in this environment.”
Through AABJ, she also became a producer for their broadcast television show, iN Contact. This move catapulted Hudson into something greater for her and her career.
Even though she always envisioned herself in print journalism, television production was her way of breaking into the media industry and expanding her skills. Hudson accepted a position with WNEM TV 5 News in Saginaw, Michigan under the producer training program for about a year. As fearful as she was in leaving Atlanta and starting over, she talked herself into going through with it not knowing that it was going to keep progressing into something more.
Once the training program was over, she accepted another producer position in Tulsa, Oklahoma that she held for three years and sharpened her skills even more. Hudson produced the 6 p.m. newscasts and held a supervising producer role that introduced her to learning and leading many things within the station and the stories being aired. She grew as a journalist and brought more skills back with her.
After her position in Tulsa ended, she accepted a position in Charlotte, North Carolina producing their morning show. Unfortunately, she experienced a burnout moment and moved back to Atlanta and took some time out to figure out what she really wanted to do. During that time, she attended an NABJ conference and met someone from NPR that got her interested in that niche of journalism. To top it all off, the skills she acquired from her producer positions were transferable and lined up closely with what she has done and what she wanted to do.
Now, Hudson works in radio as a producer at WABE-FM radio where she writes and produces Atlanta’s most compelling stories. She is enjoying the work she does, the life she’s living and is looking forward to what’s next. Although she’s unsure of where the future will take her, she is sure that life will be interesting, her skills will continue to grow and you just might see her host her own show on NPR.
(Pictured left, Maya T. Prabhu)
Maya Prabhu Talks About Her Journalism Career and the 2023 Georgia Legislative Session
“I always tell people I came to journalism like really backwards,” said Maya Prabhu, a government reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Born in Queens, New York and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Prabhu moved to Atlanta to attend Spelman College. She was a math major during her first two years of her undergraduate studies, then changed her major to English and in 2004 earned a bachelor’s degree.
When the time came for her to decide her career path, Prabhu decided to pursue journalism. In college, she took the only journalism class the university offered and wrote for the school paper one semester. In her mind, she lacked the experience to work in a newsroom.
“I didn’t feel like I was qualified or prepared to go out into the world and work at a newspaper with one class,” Prabhu said.
Prabhu attended graduate school at the University of Maryland to study journalism and become a music reporter. Without researching the program beforehand, she quickly realized the curriculum was public policy focused.
“If you didn’t want to be like a White House correspondent, they were just like, ‘why are you here?”
After obtaining her master’s degree, Prabhu worked as a journalist, covering municipal governments in Maryland and moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to cover city government. She went on to cover state government for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.
“So, a lot of people are passionate about journalism and then go out into the world and become journalists,” Prabhu said. “Whereas, I was like, I’m good at this and I can get paid for it. Then it was after three or four years in the business when the passion came for me.”
In 2017, Prabhu returned to Atlanta to work at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in her current position covering the Georgia Legislature. Her focus includes gambling and abortion legislation, criminal justice, social issues and legislative races.
The General Assembly just ended March 28th, and Prabhu covered a few high-profile bills that many Georgians closely watched.
Here’s a brief update on a few bills that passed and failed before the Legislature adjourned:
Senate Bill 140, a measure that spurred much controversy, would prohibit healthcare providers from offering gender-affirming healthcare to transgender children. Gov. Brian Kemp immediately signed it into law before the last day of the session Georgians under 18 may continue with hormone treatment if they start before the law takes effect on July 1.
Under House Bill 231, a new state board would be created to punish or remove the state’s district attorneys for an array of violations. The measure, backed by Kemp, cleared both chambers.
Election contribution limits
Lawmakers approved a measure that would prevent county election offices from receiving donations. Republicans promoted the bill after the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, donated millions of dollars to Dekalb County in 2020.
Mental health legislation continued to be top of mind among lawmakers. House Bill 520 would address the shortage of mental health providers in the state and refine how agencies share patient information. However, the measure failed to advance both chambers.
This session marked the fifth-year lawmakers attempted and failed to pass legislation to legalize sports betting. Two versions of the bill failed to move past the Senate floor.
A measure that would grant an annual subsidy of $6,500 for students to spend on private education or homeschooling fell in the House. Kemp publicly backed the measure.
For more information on the Georgia General Assembly, visit the Georgia General Assembly. Follow Maya Prabhu on Twitter at @MayaTPrabhu.
This issue of the Byline was edited by Tianna Faulkner, Vice President of Print for the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists.