ABOVE PHOTO: Jemele Hill (Photo AP)
Washington, D.C. — Jemele Hill has been selected as the 2018 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The annual award recognizes a black journalist who has amassed a distinguished body of work with extraordinary depth, scope and significance to the people of the African Diaspora.
Known for her provocative commentary on what’s happening in sports and in the news, Hill is a senior correspondent and columnist for ESPN’s The Undefeated. She uses her platform to address national, social and cultural issues, in addition to sports. Hill nearly broke the internet last year when she criticized President Donald Trump. She also, taking up the NABJ spirit of advocacy, addressed athletes’ rights to take a knee to protest police brutality. She did all this while co-anchoring a groundbreaking rebrand of ESPN’s marquee show SportsCenter, or SC6, along with fellow NABJ member Michael Smith.
“It would be a serious understatement to call this recognition from NABJ special. This organization has been a second family for me, both personally and professionally,” Hill said. “I am humbled to be honored by an organization whose values not only match my own journalistically but has tirelessly dedicated itself to developing and nurturing journalists like me.
“This is the biggest accomplishment of my career.”
Hill’s tweets about Trump, back in September 2017, included one post calling him “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is the direct result of White supremacy. Period.”
Hill’s words drew widespread criticism, and even the ire of the White House, which called for her firing from ESPN. Hill withstood the backlash. She also pressed on after a two-week suspension from ESPN in October 2017. This “second violation of [ESPN’s] social media guidelines,” occurred after Hill’s highly-publicized Twitter response to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ threat to bench his players who didn’t stand during the National Anthem. Hill’s suspension then became part of the narrative that started with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling before games in 2016 to raise awareness about police brutality.
In both instances, a hashtag, #IStandWithJemele, surfaced. Hundreds of thousands used their social media platforms to support Hill. Supporters included her peers, athletes, politicians, and celebrities.
Hill has said publicly that while she has no regrets, she is reflective about her experiences in the past year. In each instance, she had the full support of NABJ.
“Jemele Hill is a gem. She exhibits strength, grace, and doggedness,” NABJ President Sarah Glover said about Hill’s perseverance. “NABJ appreciates the courage and steadfastness Jemele has demonstrated as a journalist and commentator speaking truth to power.”
Hill will be honored in her hometown at the NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards during the NABJ Convention and Career Fair on Aug. 4 at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. She is also the honorary co-chair of this year’s convention.