Gayle King Announces ViacomCBS' $1M HBCU Scholarship, a 'Commitment to Elevating Black Excellence in Journalism'

USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay, left, and Gayle King
USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay, left, and Gayle King
Screenshot: Burson, Cohn & Wolfe

If you prefer Black voices delivering your news (which you clearly do), there may soon be many more qualified voices entering and rising in the ranks of modern media. On Thursday, during the virtual celebration for the prestigious University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s Class of 2021, co-host of CBS This Morning Gayle King joined the school’s dean, fellow veteran journalist Willow Bay, to announce the creation of the ViacomCBS HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship.

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Via a press release provided to The Root:

With Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) serving as a critical driver to create more diverse and inclusive newsrooms that accurately reflect America’s communities, USC and ViacomCBS have created - ViacomCBS HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship - to accelerate representation of Black journalists in newsrooms nationwide.

HBCUs make up only three percent of the country’s colleges and universities but enroll 10% of all African American students and produce almost 20% of all African American graduates. Supported by a $1-million endowment, the ViacomCBS HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship, will cover yearly tuition costs for graduates of HBCUs to enroll in one of USC Annenberg’s journalism master’s programs.

“This new scholarship demonstrates ViacomCBS and USC Annenberg’s commitment to elevating Black excellence in journalism as well as a tremendous investment in supporting the diverse representation we all seek in the industry,” said King.

As the press release further notes, the need for well-trained Black journalists in the field is dire. Currently, we represent only 7.12 percent of the overall salaried workforce among newsrooms, according to those that responded to the News Leaders Association’s latest Newsroom Diversity Survey. Strikingly, this is an increase of less than two percent since the same survey in 1999, indicating an ongoing lack of exposure, access and adequate education within the field among Black students; a pipeline problem that has proven endemic within many industries.

“The ViacomCBS HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship will help remove the tuition cost barrier that may prevent HBCU students from pursuing graduate studies in journalism,” the statement reads.

That change starts today, as scholarship applications are now being accepted for USC’s 2021-22 academic year. For more information and eligibility requirements for the ViacomCBS HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship, visit the school’s website.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?

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