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Workshops, awards highlight Black Journalists regional conference in Birmingham

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NABJ Region III Director Ken Lemmon (left), local journalist Sherrel Wheeler Stewart (center) and WBRC anchor and BABJ president Steve Crocker (right), Wheeler Stewart was recognized as one of the Region III Achievers during the NABJ Region III Conference in Birmingham at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. (Erica Wright Photos, The Birmingham Times)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

Hundreds of professional and student journalists were in Birmingham Friday and Saturday for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Region III Conference, “Code Switching: Reporting the Virtual Truth” at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. (Erica Wright Photos, The Birmingham Times)

Hundreds of professional and student journalists were in Birmingham Friday and Saturday for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Region III Conference, “Code Switching: Reporting the Virtual Truth” at the Sheraton Hotel downtown.

The conference included workshops focusing on digital skills as well as seminars on creating stronger news pieces, avoiding reporting mistakes and employing the latest tools of the trade. There was also a Watchdog Workshop hosted by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).

Local journalist Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, of public radio WBHM 90.3-FM, and journalist Ervin Hester, who passed in October of 2018, and was the first black TV news anchor in the Southeast while working in Durham, North Carolina were recognized with the Region III Achievers Awards.

“I must say, I am honored, I am humbled by this award, I love BABJ (Birmingham Association of Black Journalists) and NABJ,” Stewart said. “ . . . I’ve been in journalism for a while now and I can say that a lot of what I’ve done has been because of the very strong support I have from my family… I’ve also had some fantastic NABJ friends and mentors, so many people who are always just there for me… thank you all so much for everything.”

Hester was the first black TV news anchor in the Southeast and began anchoring at ABC 11 WTVD in Durham in the early ‘70s. He anchored the weekend news and earned the nickname “Primetime” and retired from WTVD in 1996. His granddaughter accepted the award on his behalf.

Steve Crocker, WBRC-TV evening news anchor and BABJ President, said he was happy to see so many journalists visit Birmingham.

“I think we’ve had a really dynamic couple of days. I’m grateful to . . . NABJ national leadership for choosing to come to Birmingham and I’m happy to see so many aspiring journalists come to the city to network and improve their skills.”