OUR STORIES MATTER!
We all have a story. In the August issue of the Byline, three Atlanta journalists share their stories about their experiences and expertise as Black journalists today. Whether they are a seasoned journalist with years of experience or new to the industry, each story is unique. These three journalists share how their humble beginnings as journalists, along with hard work, determination, professional career goals, and experience has led them to accomplish dreams and led them to the fulfilling journalism careers that they enjoy today. The path to success may be different from one person to the next and that is okay. These stories will inspire you to live your purpose and your journey while remembering to reach back and help others.
Positively Portia: Atlanta Newswoman Portia Bruner Talks About New Talk Show
(Pictured: Portia Bruner)
Something that she thought was not possible for her before is a reality today. Atlanta newswoman Portia Bruner is the talk show host for Fox 5 Atlanta’s “Portia,” a nationally distributed lifestyle show that initially began as a voice for African American women. The show focuses on a variety of topics, including faith, fitness, finances, family, and health and appeals to all audiences today.
Bruner decided at a young age that she wanted to be a journalist. The Denver, Colorado native wanted to inspire people like Susan Taylor of Essence Magazine did. Bruner initially thought she would be a print journalist. She has worked as a broadcast journalist for over 20 years. Today, she is known in the newsroom as “Positively Portia” because she says her show is a positive show from start to finish, regardless of how hard the topic is. According to Bruner, her show focuses on everyday people, not just celebrities.
“I’ve always been a storyteller and had this idea of telling stories in space,” Bruner explained. “I was the only child growing up and used to line up my dolls and tell them a story. I watched Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue and 60 Minutes. Watching the “Oprah Winfrey Show” in high school and college was so cool. To see this woman who looked like me was so inspiring. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Bruner is a Howard University graduate whose journalism career began with an internship she had at NBC4-TV in Washington, DC. She was producing news just out of college and said she knew then that a regular 9 to 5 job was not for her. Her beat at the station was consumer news. At 27 years old, Bruner was a co-anchor at WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi. There she covered big stories around public policy, Black activism, and poverty. Bruner has also worked as a consumer reporter at WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Virginia.
“I was a legislative reporter in Jackson, Mississippi. The lawmakers were supportive. It was my training ground to be a journalist. This is where I learned how to become a passionate advocate for people,” Bruner said. “Over the years, I have also learned how to tell the best story you can to whoever you encounter so that all sides are covered and not share your opinions.”
Bruner has been at Fox 5 Atlanta for 20 years. Over the years, she has covered a variety of topics, including breaking news, crime, lifestyle/human interest stories, and government. Her advice to young journalists today is for them to know their “why.” Know why you do what you do, she said. Be sincere and conscious of what is going on in your communities are other tips she shared. When thinking of ideas for her show, she asks herself “what are women talking about?” Bruner says women are talking about their kid’s safety, their husbands, weight control, and whether women still feel sexy with curves, for example. Her stories also focus on children and men too.
(Pictured: Portia Bruner and guests on show “Portia”)
Additionally, in her free time Bruner has also openly talked about her struggles with stuttering and depression, where she has shared that she took time off from work because she said her job was stressful. She said she wants to be clear with the public about things she has gone through, especially when she said God brought her through something.
“I have transitioned from being a news anchor to a talk show host, which has come with some challenges. Now as a talk show host, I am taking sides on issues, which you typically don’t do as a reporter. Now I feel like I am an advocate for the voiceless and it is liberating. I love telling everyone’s stories. Black women come up to me all the time and tell me they love the show and can identify with it. I feel obligated to tell stories in a fair balanced way.”
The show “Portia” began in the fall of 2022 and has been picked up for a second season for Fall 2023. The talk show airs weekdays on Fox 5 Atlanta at 11:00 am and 11:30 am and airs weeknights on Fox Soul.
“If we’re not honest about hard times that we go through, we’re lying to people,” Bruner said. “Share your story so others can learn.”
For more information, visit Portia Bruner.
Keion Grissom Shares the Benefits of Attending the NABJ Convention and Career Fair
(Pictured: Emmy Award winning journalist Keion Grissom)
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosts their national conference and career fair each summer in the United States for Black journalists around the world to attend, network and enjoy. From panels, to workshops, to mixers, there are plenty of opportunities for Black journalists to take advantage of this experience to grow and meet other Black journalists on their career journey, something that Atlanta metro journalist Keion Grissom has learned, enjoyed, and benefited from for years.
Grissom is an Emmy-award winning associate producer for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, formerly known as Turner Sports. As a Morehouse College alumnus, he understood the importance of connection and community. Grissom accredits NABJ, the convention and his former professor/mentor, Ron Thomas, for helping him kick-start his career and land his current role.
He attended his first NABJ conference in 2011 in Philadelphia, PA where he met David Aldridge and many others in the sports realm and gained some great advice.
“Who are you replacing?” Aldridge asked Grissom. “You have to learn around the business.”
“That was the greatest question ever,” says Grissom. “Because it’s not about how you can have the gift of gab or if you’re great at your skill, these guys have contracts!”
Aldridge continued to give Grissom life-changing advice and even introduced him to Tara August and Keith Robinson during the convention. After speaking and networking with them, Grissom returned home from the convention with an internship at Turner Sports, right where he wanted to be. From there, Grissom was able to build his career, move up, and learn everything that he could about his job.
“My grind was whatever person I saw doing a job that I didn’t know how to do, on my off day, I would shadow them,” says Grissom. “Everything I did the previous year, I didn’t want to do the next year.”
Over the course of 11 years, Grissom went from a logger to an editor to a web content producer to now, a production assistant/broadcasting associate where he’s been awarded the 2020-2021 Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Sports Special. If you can recall the 2020 NBA All-Star game that took place in Chicago, during the fourth quarter, the scoreboard and the entire arena paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant with purple and gold lights and 24 points added to the winning score to reflect Bryant’s jersey number; that was Grissom’s idea and what won him that Emmy.
“I never saw myself winning an Emmy,” says Grissom. “I just love the job and I love my career to the point that I’m just glad that I’m working and grateful to showcase my ideas.”
Grissom shows his appreciation for gaining these opportunities by giving back and helping other young sports journalists. One of his proudest moments was bringing in a young sports reporter from Morehouse to shadow another sideline reporter and experience a day in the life of what they do.
None of this would have been possible for Grissom without the help of the NABJ Convention and Career Fair and the people he has met there and people he has met and learned from throughout his career. As he continues to attend the NABJ conferences in the future, he always looks forward to the specialized panels, catching up with his mentors and other friends in his field and learning something new that could help him within his career.
Follow Keion Grissom on X (formerly Twitter) @Kid2King.
The AJC’s New Culture Reporter Talks About Her Career
(Pictured: DeAsia Paige, photo by Natrice Miller)
Culture Reporter DeAsia Paige Sutgrey, who goes by DeAsia Paige, sat down to discuss her career as a music and culture writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC). Various internships and freelance journalism opportunities in her short career led Paige to such a prestigious role at the Atlanta newspaper.
In 2020, Paige graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. During her time in school Paige wrote about arts and culture for the university’s newspaper The University Daily Kansan. In 2018 Paige earned internships at publications such as Vice and The Detroit Free Press. After graduating from the University of Kansas she began freelancing for publications such as Blavity, Elle, NPR Music, Teen Vogue and more.
She would later gain her first full time writing position via Report for America at The Belleville News-Democrat. Whether Paige was interning, freelancing, or working full time for a publication, she knew that writing for music and/or culture beats was what she wanted to do as a journalist.
While working for the Detroit Free Press in 2018, Paige worked as a breaking news intern. The Detroit Free Press was her first opportunity to report regularly about breaking news. She immediately realized this was not something she enjoyed.
“While I did not enjoy the fast-paced and often random nature of breaking news, it was a great experience,” Paige said.
This helped her to learn that no matter the beat, there is always going to be some sort of breaking news for every topic. From 2019-2020 she spent her time at Blavity where she was granted the opportunity to really learn about the music and culture side of the industry. She explained that it gave her insight on “the type of stories that would garner readers’ interest.” Interviewing celebrities was something she also did while freelancing at Blavity.
“Blavity was my first time writing regularly about Black music and culture for a mainstream publication,” Paige explained.
In October 2022, Paige moved to Atlanta where she earned her current title as Culture Reporter at the AJC. Currently she covers intersections of arts, culture, and underrepresented communities in Atlanta. Being in Atlanta Paige said she has been able to see that the city is “rich” in culture, and there is always something that can be written about.
“It is important to me that my readers receive stories that are fresh,” she said, detailing that she has more experience as a journalist now than she did in 2019 and 2020.
Paige understands that information comes out fast today, especially with social media. Her goal is to give her readers stories that are not seen on every other timeline feed. She said she has gained an abundance of experience in such a short amount of time, and she has learned so much as a reporter.
“One major thing I have learned as a young Black journalist is that the industry can often be extremely strenuous on journalists, so I am trying to prioritize my mental health while still being a great reporter,” Paige said.
Paige’s future is bright, and she has goals and plans to accomplish much more in the years ahead, including work as a producer and or work on a podcast or documentary. Writing an autobiography of Black music artists is something else Paige is hopeful to accomplish in the future.
For more information, follow her on LinkedIn at DeAsia Paige.
The Atlanta Association of Black Journalists Members Nominated at Atlanta Press Club Awards of Excellence
(Pictured from L to R: Craig Allen Brown, Natalie Mendenhall, Tyrik Wynn)
The Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ) were present and represented at this months Atlanta Press Club Annual Awards of Excellence ceremony. AABJ President Craig Allen Brown and AABJ members Natalie Mendenhall and Tyrik Wynn were all nominated this year by the Atlanta Press Club for their work in journalism. The Atlanta Press Club’s Awards of Excellence celebrates the best of journalism from the previous year. Awards are given within print, broadcast, and digital categories. For more information about the Atlanta Press Club Awards of Excellence, visit www.atlantapressclub.org.
This issue of the Byline was edited by Tianna Faulkner, Vice President of Print for the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ).