Atlanta Falcons Visit Morehouse for NextGen Storytellers Initiative
Photo by Kobe Scales (@kobescales.media)
By Kobe Scales, Co-Sports Producer
An initiative started by the Atlanta Falcons brought the team’s media and marketing staff to Morehouse College for a night filled with stories, information, and surprises on Feb. 23, 2022.
The NextGen Storytellers initiative gives opportunities to the next generation of sports journalists. The initiative is also specifically for HBCUs, showing the organization’s commitment to promoting a more diverse culture in a field that often shows a lack of diversity.
Many of the African Americans that you see within sports media are former star athletes. This initiative will give opportunities to students who are stars in the classroom and their school news organizations.
The first students in this initiative were handpicked from the Journalism in Sports, Culture and Social Justice Department as well as Morehouse’s Maroon Tiger Staff. The mission for this first cohort of students was to create stories based on Black History Month with each pair of students having their own mentor from the Atlanta Falcons media staff.
Shannon Joyner, class of ‘08, Falcons senior director of marketing, had his hands all over this initiative, ensuring that his former school had first dibs at showcasing their talent to his organization.
Joyner also headed the two panels of staff members within the Atlanta Falcons & Delta Air Lines organizations. The panel members included Falcons Digital Managing Editor Scott Bair, Falcons Beat Writer Tori McElhaney, and Falcons Features Reporter Ashton Edmunds, an alum of Clark Atlanta University.
Members of the panel spoke about their different paths to the jobs that they now hold. The most intriguing part was hearing the perspectives in the different age groups. Bair’s journey from newspaper writing many years ago to McElhaney’s path from college graduation in 2018 and going straight to digital media, showed students that every route is not the same.
The differing paths also allowed for insight into how far sports journalism has come and how well it has kept up with the times. That transition could ensure students that this career path will be an option for a very long time, with many ways into it.
At the end of the night the Falcons and Delta Air Lines surprised everyone in attendance, awarding Morehouse’s Journalism Department $25,000. Through the money award and bringing the initiative to Morehouse first, the Atlanta Falcons have shown that it is important to them to continue the fight for diversity in sports journalism.