National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced today that Michael Fields, news director of WABE 90.1 FM in Atlanta, will receive the prestigious Ida B. Wells Award. The annual honor is given to a media executive or manager who has made outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
Fields is being recognized for his efforts which have resulted in excellent WABE news coverage and a more accurate reflection of the diverse communities that public broadcasting station in Atlanta serves. The award is a joint offering from NABJ with the National Conference of Editorial Writers. Previous recipients include: Steve Capus of NBC News; Reggie Stuart of Knight Ridder; Paula Madison of NBC Universal; and Walterene Swanston of NPR.
"NABJ is proud to honor Michael with our Ida B. Wells award. He is truly deserving of this honor and has demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity with his work at WABE through his hiring practices as well as in the news coverage that he leads of the diverse communities that Atlanta serves," said NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. "We are proud to call Michael an NABJ member and are pleased to honor him for his work in ensuring our newsrooms make diversity a top priority."
The Ida B. Wells Award is named in honor of the distinguished journalist, fearless reporter and wife of one of America's earliest black publishers.
"I am greatly humbled to even be mentioned in the same breath with Ida B. Wells, who was one of America's most courageous journalists, battling the double handicaps of both race and gender to fight the evils of lynching," Fields said.
Since the WABE newsroom first came under Fields' leadership in 2006, telling truths about diverse and under-served populations has resulted in the station becoming a highly regarded award-winning news outlet.
One example of its notable achievements was the station's ongoing coverage of Georgia's immigration reform. WABE's reporters traveled to South Georgia and spent several days with immigrant workers. That story was subsequently featured on the national public radio program, The World.
Fields has also led WABE newsroom's aggressive and continuing coverage of the test cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools, which have a majority minority student population. They are the people most affected by the scandal, something Fields has always kept as a focus of WABE's coverage.
Fields will accept his honor, along with NABJ's 2012 Hall of Fame honorees: Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of PBS's "Washington Week"; veteran news anchor Pat Harvey of KCBS; veteran news executive Ruth Allen Ollison; former TV One President and CEO Johnathan Rodgers; and the late Wallace Terry, a Vietnam war correspondent, author and oral historian.
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An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C. NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.