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Understanding Today’s Media: Insights from Top Journalists

Join this panel with top journalists to explore findings from the 2024 State of the Media Report.

The 2024 State of the Media Report

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10 Influential Black Journalists You Should be Following

For public relations professionals, keeping ahead of impactful stories that resonate with audiences is a critical part of the job. Building relationships with the influential journalists who tell those stories is just as important. 

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re taking a look at 10 journalists of color telling the stories that are an essential part of the panorama of the U..S.

Follow these journalists to stay ahead of the stories that are making an impact - then follow our guidelines below on how to better engage and start building relationships with these and other influential journalists.  

Yamiche Alcindor

Yamiche Alcindor is the Washington Correspondent for NBC News covering the administration of President Joe Biden as well as the impact of federal policies on communities across the country and issues at the intersection of race, culture and politics. 

She was previously the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, and has appeared as a frequent contributor on NBC and MSNBC shows as well as PBS’s Washington Week. She was the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2020 Journalist of the Year.

In December of 2020, she told Glamour magazine that she decided to become a journalist after learning about Jet magazine’s coverage of the murder of Emmett Till and how it galvanized the nation to confront lynching.

In an Elle magazine story on the women who covered the Trump administration, Alcindor said, “Asking the president, ‘Do you mean to embolden white nationalists, white supremacists?’ is why I became a journalist. African Americans have had to fight and die to be in the spaces that I now get to be in.”

Lester Holt

In 2015, Lester Holt became the first African American to anchor a network nightly news show solo when he took the reins of NBC Nightly News. Prior to that, he hosted the weekend Nightly News and Today shows. Currently, he anchors NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Dateline NBC.

He moderated one of the 2016 presidential debates and conducted the interview in which President Trump addressed the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Holt has won multiple Emmys and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and was honored as Journalist of the Year by the NABJ in 2016.

Watch as Lester Holt discusses his fanbase to Conan O'Brien:

April Ryan

The Trump Presidency put a number of White House correspondents in the spotlight, including April Ryan, who became a household name for her astute questioning. She is currently the D.C. Bureau Chief for TheGrio, a role that she previously held at Urban Radio One, and a political analyst for CNN.

She was honored as the NABJ 2017 Journalist of the Year. She is also a member of the White House Correspondents' Association board.

She once told Elle magazine, in reference to her time covering the Trump White House, “One of the things that separates the U.S. from other countries is our free and independent press—a press that is allowed to ask the president anything. So when the president tells me to be quiet and ‘sit down,’ it’s painful.”

Watch here, as Ryan discusses life as a reporter: 

Abby Phillip

Abby Phillip is the host of CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday and Senior Political Correspondent. She was previously a White House correspondent with CNN and prior to that held roles at Politico, ABC, and the Washington Post.

Phillip has made appearances on PBS’s Washington Week and she co-moderated one of the 2020 Democratic debates.

She was instrumental to CNN’s 2020 election night coverage. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she reflected, “I think the story of Black women in American history has been one of perseverance. And I do think there's a special resonance to the country electing a Black woman as VP after one of the most explicitly racially divisive elections we've had in decades and also after a summer of powerful activism around racial equity.” Here's some more insight into Phillip's perspective as a journalist:

Audie Cornish

Audie Cornish is a co-host of NPR’s flagship afternoon news show All Things Considered. She also appears as a panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press.

In a conversation with the Columbia Journalism Review, she described the art of interviewing saying, “It’s like fireworks, you know? There’s a lot of planning that goes into fireworks. Even though what you see in the end looks kind of beautiful and chaotic and surprising.”

Get more insight from Cornish in this video of her reflecting on her career:

Karen Attiah

Karen Attiah is the Washington Post’s Global Opinion Editor, who rose to prominence for her coverage of the murder of her colleague Jamal Khashoggi, for which she was named the 2019 NABJ Journalist of the Year.

On the subject of the Black Lives Matter movement and recent protests, she told the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs’ SIPA Magazine, “There is a lot of energy to right so many wrongs that are so baked into America and Europe and ideas about Blackness and the Black world. We cannot call ourselves a democracy until Black people are given the parity, representation, and safety that our white neighbors, coworkers, and friends enjoy. This is a human rights issue, a labor rights issue, and a security and policing issue. Fundamentally, it’s about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is all we are asking for—still asking for, 400 years later.”

Here she is, offering a different perspective on the recent rise of "cancel culture:"

Errin Haines

Errin Haines is editor-at-large for The 19*, “an independent, nonprofit newsroom reporting on gender, politics, and policy.” She previously covered race and politics for AP and has appeared as a commentator on numerous shows.

In the 2020 Glamour magazine article “8 Journalists on Reporting While Black, With the Weight of History on Their Shoulders,” she said, “Black women have been telling the truth about America for a long time. As a Black woman in journalism, my obligation is no less than that. And I do that on the shoulders of all of the women who’ve done that work before me and with me now.”

Here she is, moderating a panel at SXSW, on women in leadership roles:

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer-winning columnist for the Washington Post covering politics. He is a frequent guest on Meet the Press and serves as a political analyst for MSNBC.

Watch as Robinson gamely reads criticisms about himself:

Joy Reid

Joy Reid is host of the nightly news and opinion show The ReidOut on MSNBC, and is best known for her analysis and commentary on the issues of race, equality, and politics. Prior to getting her own show, Reid was a national correspondent for MSNBC and frequent guest host. Reid has also written three books: Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial DivideThe Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story, and, most recently, Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America.

Here she is, telling Stephen Colbert about the story behind her most recent book:

Ayesha Rascoe

Ayesha Rascoe hosts Weekend Edition Sunday on NPR. She was previously a White House correspondent for NPR and covered the Obama White House for Reuters. She has appeared frequently on the NPR Politics podcast and other NPR shows. Rascoe has also been a paid guest on PBS's Washington Week as a political commentator.

Watch this clip to get to know Rascoe a little more:

How to Connect with Influential Journalists 

Following these journalists are an excellent way to get deeper insight and a broader perspective about the world around us and the stories audiences are hungry for. But if you want to take it to the next level and try to connect with and build relationships with these (or any) journalists, consider these outreach tips and pitching best practices:

  • Personalize your pitch: Take the time to research each journalist's beat, interests, and writing style.. Trust us - journalists take notice. A good media database like CisionOne Outreach can help you grab this information instantly so you don't have to chase it through manual and time-consuming internet searches.
  • Offer an exclusive: Give the journalist you're reaching out to the chance to be the first to break a story. The goodwill won't go unnoticed, and whether they are actually able to cover the story, the approach will land you in their good graces and could be the launchpad for a new and valuable media relationship, and you will immediately have their attention exclusive access to information.
  • Make it unique: What can you offer this journalist that no one else can? Is it a unique story angle? An interview with a subject matter expert? New research? Set yourself apart by offering something the journalist is unlikely to get anywhere else.
  • Practice good outreach etiquette: This means respecting deadlines, not following up incessantly (if they don't respond after one follow up, it's probably best to move on); reaching out on their preferred channel (87% of journalists prefer email, but again, a good media database should have this intel); and being available when they request more information, an interview or multimedia assets.

For more guidance on pitching and media outreach best practices

Check out these resources:

To learn how CisionOne Outreach can help you identify the most influential and relevant journalists to amplify your brand and reach target audiences, explore the platform today.