The State News won big this November as the recipient of four Pacemaker Awards in the National Collegiate Journalism competition (Newspaper/newsmagazine, Online, Multiplatform and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award). Widely recognized as the top prize for collegiate journalism, each year the Pacemaker Award honors students based on their writing, editing, content and design.
This year's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Pacemaker Award selected the State News' podcast All Shades of Chocolate hosted by ComArtSci's journalism students Shakyra Mabone, Jada Vasser and Anthony Brinson III.
The State News' award-winning podcast focuses on the importance of black culture both at MSU and beyond. From trending topics to discussing issues in the black community, juniors Shakyra, Jada and Anthony are utilizing their platform to present students with the opportunity to relate and learn from one another here on campus. After launching All Shades of Chocolate this past January, all three hosts were proud that their voices and contributions were recognized on a prestigious pedestal.
"When I was told we were nominated, I was not familiar with the award," said State News Podcast Coordinator Anthony Brinson. "It feels remarkable to be noticed for something we just started and for me who just started working at the State News this year. We have not even produced 20 episodes of content yet and we are already winning awards. It feels unbelievable."
"It feels really good to be individually known for something," Vasser added. "At the State News, I am the copy chief, and a lot of times people do not necessarily know who you are, but they know what you do. To have the podcast, people actually know my name along with what I do as copy chief. It is really cool to have both aspects connected."
Creating a home for black MSU Students
Prior to producing the first episode, the All Shades of Chocolate podcast wanted to create a space for black students to feel comfortable at MSU. Through their words, spirited personal stories and dynamic chemistry amongst one another, they have established an everlasting impact on their fellow Spartan classmates.
"One of our goals for the podcast was to make incoming black freshmen feel that we are here with them. In making our podcast feel as relatable as possible, we can lend a voice to students and help them navigate here while being a Spartan," said Mabone.
"As a freshman, we all had moments where we felt we did not belong here. Since I've become copy chief, it has always been a goal of mine to bridge the connection between the State News and the black community at MSU," Vasser added. "If that bridge can be mended, then there is no power that the black community won't have. We need those voices in the newsroom to help prevent some of the issues we have on campus right now."
The State News has created numerous opportunities for ComArtSci students to build their resumes and explore their passions in a professional setting. More importantly, students are not only able to find a position that best suits their skill set, but they are also able to design the perfect balance of work and fulfilling personal aspirations.
For Shakyra, Jada and Anthony being able to find a stride with the podcast has allowed them to encourage others to practice diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.
"It is important to stay true to yourself and understand that change is good, said Mabone. "When I first arrived at the State News, I realized that everything is a process and that a process takes time. Being here made me realize what I wanted to do with my career. I hope this podcast will continue to be a legacy after we graduate. I am forever grateful for the support we provide for one another."
"I want our mark to be made at the State News and Michigan State in general," Brinson added. "If I were talking to someone, I would want them to know that they belong here. You have received your acceptance letter, and you came to MSU for a reason. Even if you look in your classroom and you are the only black student, it is important to believe that you are here for a purpose. With All Shades of Chocolate, we hope to serve students who need that confirmation."
Congratulations to the All Shades of Chocolate podcast and its contributions to the Spartan community!
By: Miles Sloan