Honoring Trailblazers in Media Diversity
Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will honor Paula Madison, former NBC journalist and executive, with the 2016 Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Award for her accomplishments in media diversity.
Madison will visit campus to present a lecture on media diversity and accept the award on Sept. 29, 2016. The keynote lecture will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Kiva Auditorium at Kent State. The lecture is free and open to the public.
The McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Award Program, now in its 13th year, is presented in honor of the late Robert G. “Bob” McGruder, the first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater who went on to become the first black reporter at The Plain Dealer, the first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group and first black executive editor at the Detroit Free Press.
Madison was raised in Harlem, N.Y., and throughout her career, has blazed trails in media diversity. She was the first African-American female general manager of a top news network (KNBC in Los Angeles) and NBCUniversal’s vice president and chief diversity officer. She has received several honors for corporate leadership and community outreach, including being named one of the “75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise Magazine in 2005 and one of the Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100.”
After retiring from NBC in 2011, Madison set out on a personal journey: She and her brothers, who were raised in Harlem, N.Y., set out on a journey to uncover their Chinese and Jamaican roots. The journey is depicted through the book (2015) and documentary (2014), “Finding Samuel Lowe” – a story about familial love and devotion and the American dream. Learn more at www.findingsamuellowe.com.
"I don't know anyone that says, 'I'm a trailblazer,'" Madison said. "(As a journalist, my work) is motivated by a desire that accuracy, balance and fairness are as fair and as thorough as you can make them. It has everything to do with access, with giving voice to the disenfranchised, with bringing everything to the forefront and to the public's attention when there is something that requires a closer look and deeper inspection."
JMC Director and Professor Thor Wasbotten said he is honored to present this distinguished award to Madison, one of his professional mentors circling back to his days as a television news director.
“As someone who believed so strongly in community journalism and diversity issues, and the fact that she was the first African-American woman to be general manager at one of the top five network-owned television stations, she helped me solidify my beliefs that diversity in journalism was paramount to servicing our audience,” Wasbotten said. “I can think of no one who is more deserving of the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity."
The Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award
Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris will also be recognized on Sept. 29 with the Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award.
Morris was a 2010 and 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary. In 2010, he was recognized for his columns "that close the distance between the reader and the rough streets of the city, confronting hard realities without leaving people to feel hopeless"; in 2011, he was recognized for "his blend of local storytelling and unpredictable opinions, enlarging the discussion of controversial issues that stir a big city."