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CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship celebrates 10 years with a new class of student journalists


CBC and UNC-Chapel Hill hosted the 10th CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship this month. Top student journalists representing universities from across the country came to WRAL to produce two newscasts during Spring Break. The 2024 class included students from the University of Florida, North Carolina A&T State University, Temple University, Shaw University, University of South Carolina, University of Arizona, UNC-Chapel Hill, and University of Puerto Rico Arecibo.

Over five days, WRAL professionals and UNC professors coached the students in workshops and during the newsgathering process. Former WRAL reporter Leyla Santiago is now the Daniels Executive-In-Residence at UNC-Chapel Hill and served as a fellowship mentor. WRAL still feels like home to me. Working with my former colleagues and some of my current students was incredible, Santiago said. It gave me an opportunity to support two things I am passionate about- diversity in newsrooms and the future generation of journalists.

WRAL-TV News Producer Miriam Melvin (left) works with a student journalist during the 10th CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship. Top student journalists representing universities from across the country came to WRAL-TV for a week of learning from March 11-15, 2024.

New this year, WRAL welcomed a director fellow and weather fellow to the program. News production manager James Ford worked with director fellow Aaman Patel of UNC-Chapel Hill in the control room. I was truly impressed with Aaman and his ability to absorb key points from our training sessions in a limited timeframe and apply them to the final newscast, Ford said.

The weather fellow, Derrah Getter of the University of Florida, teamed up with weather executive producer Aimee Wilmoth who was thrilled to mentor a fellow focused on forecasting. It was quite refreshing working with excited, eager, students. I love that we offer this fellowship and sure hope we get more meteorology students in years ahead!

WRAL-TV Weather Executive Producer Aimee Wilmoth (left) works with a student journalist during the 10th CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship. Top student journalists representing universities from across the country came to WRAL-TV for a week of learning from March 11-15, 2024.

While the students had professional mentors, the newscasts reflected their hard work.

Producer Miriam Melvin said of the two newscasts produced and directed by the fellows, I might be biased but they were phenomenal! These journalists are ready for the industry that is in need of more Black and brown representation.

Senior producer Stephanie Beck who has been with the program since the first year added, I feel confident these fellows will make an immediate impact on their first markets, and on every market they touch after that.

The student journalists collaborate in groups and individually throughout the fellowship to craft their stories and newscasts which are posted to Once again, the CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship brought the best and brightest to our campus, said Jodi Glusco, digital content director. This year, every reporter met their digital deadline, with some going out of their way to seek extra help with drafts early on.

UNC School of Journalism Asst Professor Shelvia Dancy speaks to student journalists during the 10th CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship. Top student journalists representing universities from across the country came to WRAL-TV for a week of learning from March 11-15, 2024.

Assistant news director, Aysu Basaran, who designed the program, said, We owe a big thanks to CBC and UNC for seeing the value of this program and making the investment. We are coaching the future of our industry, and we need to ensure that diverse voices are heard in newsrooms across the country and right here at WRAL. She points to two former fellows who eventually returned to work in the WRAL Newsroom. Reporter Aaron Thomas went through the program in 2015, and WRAL Sports+ executive producer Louis Fernandez was a 2016 fellow. Both participated in this year's fellowship as mentors.

Jeremy Spearman, WRAL executive producer of streaming, helped to coordinate the fellowship with Basaran this year and explained how the program benefits WRAL employees. The many newsroom staffers involved in this project wrap up the exhausting weekend with a renewed sense of purpose for why we do what we do and have the honor of bringing that back to the rest of the newsroom, Spearman said. It's an honor to play a part in this program's success and an even greater honor to work for a station/company that recognizes the value in the efforts that go into executing this fellowship year after year.

WRAL News anchor Ken Smith echoed much of what Spearman said. Smith enjoyed working with the aspiring journalists, and he thought back to his early days as a reporter. Somebody reached for me when I didn't know heads or tails about crafting a story or on camera presence. This gives me a chance to pay it forward.

Top student journalists representing universities from across the country came to WRAL-TV for the 10th CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship during the week of March 11-15, 2024. The students got to spend a night of fun with several WRAL staffers at the Carolina Hurricanes during the program.

Link to CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship newscasts/stories: 2024 CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship

Hear what the fellows had to say about their experience: Daniela Cazares, University of Arizona

I am truly so grateful for this opportunity where I was able to put my skills to work as well as challenge myself in so many ways. I learned SO many things from each one of my amazing colleagues, and mentors. This is an experience I won't forget.

Davia Pugh, University of South Carolina

Thank you so much to the incredible fellowship staff for creating this wonderful program. You all poured y
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