The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) recently announced the selection of Dr. Sybril Brown, professor of journalism at Belmont University, as the association’s 2015 Journalism Educator of the Year. The award recognizes the service, commitment and academic guidance of an outstanding journalism teacher, professor or educator who has helped increase the number of black journalists in newsrooms.
Also an award-winning journalist, Dr. Brown, affectionately known as Dr. Syb, started her tenure at Belmont in 2003 as the Executive Director of the New Century Journalism program and helped to raise more than $200,000 in grant funding. In 2012, she was a finalist for the Virginia Chaney Teaching Award, Belmont’s highest honor recognizing teaching excellence. She is a Vanderbilt-educated, Harvard-trained, two-time Emmy award-winning multimedia journalist, author, international speaker and presenter.
“Dr. Syb is a long-time NABJ member who achieved excellence in her career as a broadcast journalist and turned that excellence into helping train the next generation of digital storytellers,” said NABJ President Bob Butler. “She was among the vanguard that began spreading the importance of digital journalism back when newsrooms and classrooms were still relying heavily on traditional newsgathering methods. She has taken her unique set of skills and parlayed them into a reputation as one of the early leaders of color in the digital journalism revolution.”
Belmont Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dr. Bryce Sullivan said, “The faculty and staff in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences are so pleased that Dr. Brown has been honored by the NABJ. For many years, Dr. Syb has been a faculty leader in our New Century Journalism program and in the wider academic community. Her expertise in media—and especially social media—has made a profound impact on teachers and leaders as she continually promotes the appropriate application of new technology in learning environments.”
Dr. Syb has given numerous presentations on digital journalism, including a TEDx talk tied to her book, Innovate: Lessons from the Underground Railroad. The book asserts and explains how the Underground Railroad and the Internet are among America’s most effective, innovative and disruptive networks. Among the first 1,500 journalists and educators across the country who served as Google Glass Explorers, she incorporated her Google Glass into her Digital Citizenship class, challenging students to conceptualize new mobile apps for the device.
Brown said, “I am humbled, honored and just beyond excited to be named the NABJ Journalism Educator of the Year. You really don’t serve to be recognized. You serve because that’s what we are called to do. When people take the time to give you an award, you take a minute to reflect and to say thank you, then you get back to the business at hand… service.”
Dr. Syb is celebrating more than 25 years in journalism. She joined NABJ as a senior at Marquette University in 1990 attending her first conference in L.A. Through the years she has served on and organized many panels for NABJ including planning and hosting the 2008 Digital Media Institute in Nashville. She was a founding member of the Digital Journalism Task Force, produced the Gospel Brunch and was National Convention Program Chair in Philadelphia in 2011. Dr. Syb is also a mentor, friend and adviser to many NABJ members and is often a go-to member when work needs to be done. She received the NABJ Region 3 Achiever Award in 2014. She is a proud and active member of the Nashville Association of Black Journalists where she continues to serve the chapter.
Brown, who will be honored along with NABJ’s other award winners this summer at NABJ’s Annual Convention and Career Fair in Minneapolis, teaches courses in Social Media Reporting, Digital Citizenship, Mass Media & Society and Entrepreneurial Media. Her research focuses on innovation, civility and digital media.
An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide.