MSNBC President Rashida Jones plans to travel to Washington, D.C., in March to receive the First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Although the award is among Jones’ long list of honors and accomplishments, it may pale in comparison to the celebration she is headlining at her alma mater.
The Scripps Howard School of Journalism & Communications at Hampton University (SHSJU) will host its 20th anniversary celebration on Feb. 10.
The celebration commemorates the 2002 donation of $10 million from the Scripps Howard Foundation, a gift made during the tenure of Judith Clabes, the Foundation’s former president and CEO, who was an advocate for journalism and education excellence.
The Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The E.W. Scripps Company for many years, is now affiliated with the newly established Scripps Howard Fund.
Jones declared to the Black Press of America that, “This is a full circle moment.”
“It always feels really good to go back to campus because it truly feels like home,” she added.
“I try to go a few times a year, specifically at homecoming or to visit the students at the journalism school, but every time I go back to the Scripps Howard School, I think about now…over 20, years ago where I was standing in the grass lot, and they broke ground for what would become the excellence that the school is.”
“And going from seeing it before it was built to seeing what they’ve done with that facility, I’m proud of what it is.
“It makes me proud to be a journalist to see that a school like Hampton University has the resources to be able to train journalists. And it just reminds me of how far I’ve come.”
Jones, a 2002 graduate, will receive the prestigious Achievement of Excellence Award from the SHSJC, while Jessi Mitchell of WCBS-New York and Justin Tinsley of ESPN will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Julia Wilson, the dean of Hampton’s SHSJC, said, “The students are so excited and they’re already preparing and making speeches and figuring out what they will wear.”
“We’re honoring the past and celebrating the future and we’re looking at where we’ve been as a school of journalism and communications and preparing for the future – a global future,” she remarked.
Wilson deemed it exciting that the institution will celebrate its “last 20 years of excellence with the anticipation of another 20 years of global innovation.”
“We’ve tried to really prepare our students to compete worldwide, not local or even national, but the whole world,” she declared.
“Rashida Jones is a great example and then we’ve got these rising stars whom our students want to meet, and we have outlets coming like the Washington Post and Bloomberg and our students will try and get internships and jobs at those places.”
Wilson insisted that it’s crucial “that we have Black voices not only included but heard throughout this country and abroad.”
She said Hampton’s new president Darrell K. Williams, a retired three-star Army general, has embraced the school’s vision and has brought in new technology and helped to modernize the institution.
Jones also expressed delight about the enthusiasm at Hampton.
MSNBC’s president stated, “It makes me excited for the future because I know that we’re passing the baton to a generation of journalists who are even more curious than we were, who have access to more resources than we did, who will change, ultimately, how this industry grows and develops.”
“They have the opportunity to see more people who look like them in leadership roles. And that we’re kind of the building blocks of that, where they take it, I’m inspired by,” Jones explained.
“Ultimately… [I’m] inspired by the possibilities, inspired by where they will take things in the way that they’ve been so innovative, and how they use everything from new technologies, but also how they bring their kind of life experiences to the work that we do. I’m really excited and really inspired to see where they take this industry.”
The 20th anniversary celebration concludes with an evening reception for alumni, students, sponsors, and corporations at The Landing Hotel Marina, located close to the school.
The celebration will include former and current school leaders, students, faculty, and staff, as well as alumni.
Scripps Howard Fund and the E. W. Scripps Company will serve as the “Presenting Sponsor” for the Career Fair, while The Washington Post, GrayTV, the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, and WAVY-TV are participating sponsors.
“We believe media companies; corporate communication recruiters and other participants will find some outstanding potential employees and interns at this historic event,” Wilson declared.
“This 20th anniversary reflects our school’s legacy of providing a stellar ‘Standard of Excellence’ in teaching and service to our students.”
“For our media and corporate partners, it is a reminder of our commitment to pursuing academic excellence and innovation in a fast-changing news and media landscape.
“And we appreciate our partners’ ongoing financial and intellectual support, as we build on our legacy, and continue making plans to create a Global Media Center that will prepare our students for careers in the global marketplace.”