Zaria Johnson, Journalism

Internship: The Land Environmental Justice Reporting Initiative (part of Kent State NewsLab)

“My favorite part has been meeting and talking to so many interesting and inspirational people in Cleveland."

During Summer 2021, Zaria Johnson is working directly with community residents in Cleveland’s BIPOC neighborhoods to report on environmental issues and solutions in their communities. This work is part of The Land and NewsLab at Kent State’s “Ask The Land: Environmental Reporting Initiative,” with funding support from the Cleveland Foundation, Gund Foundation, Black Environmental Leaders and Center for Community Solutions.

The project involves neighborhood-based reporting: identifying community needs through conversations with Cleveland residents (involving two-way texting and Zoom calls), reporting those stories, and sharing them with the community. So far, Zaria has been working on outreach interviews with local environmental organizations, which she has called “eye-opening.”

“I've lived in the Cleveland area all my life and I was so unaware of the issues Cleveland residents face and the number of organizations that were combatting those issues,” she says. “I've learned a lot, and the interviews have led to a lot of good story ideas that I'd love to work on this summer.”

Zaria says her experience has helped her narrow down what she wants to do when she graduates: “I'd love to continue reporting on issues that impact BIPOC communities, listening to residents and telling the stories that matter to them."

This internship has given Zaria the opportunity to delve deep into issues and build relationships with community members and leaders — something she hasn’t experienced much before.

“My favorite part has been meeting and talking to so many interesting and inspirational people in Cleveland. I love telling stories of passionate people who are driven to do amazing things, and I've already met so many people who fit that description through this internship.” 

Zaria's Work