I started my time here as a Rural Reporting Fellow for the Daily Yonder six months ago. I heard about the fellowship from Omotayo Jolasho, a cultural anthropologist at the University of South Florida. She was one of the many mentors I called upon to help me hone intentions for my career. After a few years spent applying my journalistic training in a sink-or-swim manner as I drove up and down the neighborhoods of Flint, Michigan, I knew I wanted to do more dimensional work—work that lifted words off the page with the sounds of people’s voices and illuminated them with images.
With seasons of unanswered applications, I figured “traditional newsrooms” had little room for me or that perhaps I had pigeonholed myself by working hyper-locally. Disillusioned, I left my managing editor position and took up some social media management jobs. But I still wanted to photograph, so I did. I still wanted to write, so I did. I was still interested in agriculture and rural places, so I reached out to a lone black farmer in the middle of Michigan Dutch country to see if I could start documenting his journey in agriculture.
“You have work to do. Do it anyway. You don’t need permission,” Jolasho said to me. A little while later she sent me a link to a fellowship application from an organization who’s media work spoke to this determination of mine.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to hear back and when I did, I wasn’t really seeking to impress. I said I would do this work whether people called me a journalist or not, with or without the fellowship. I would do this work because it mattered.
In this way, the Daily Yonder and I have a similar code.
The Daily Yonder matters to me for the unapologetic intentionality of what it does and who it serves. As I continue to work here and learn from my team, it’s refreshing to see that we’re not trying to be like anyone else. That matters in an industry that often rewards doing so much of the same.
Thank you for allowing the organization to grow and in turn growing me as a multimedia producer. I hope that you will contribute to our continued success.
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From November 1 to December 31, 2021 your donations can be matched. Through the NewsMatch program, contributions from individuals are eligible to be matched up to $1,000 per individual to a combined total of at least $13,000. The Daily Yonder has received additional matching funds, including $5,000 from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, $20,000 from the the Loud Hound Partner Fund, and $10,000 through a donor’s challenge from Dee Davis and Mimi Pickering, in honor of Helen and Joe Pickering. These additional matching funds stack or run concurrently with NewsMatch, which means every dollar you give goes further, having two, three, or four times its usual impact. The Daily Yonder is a project of the Center for Rural Strategies, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Gifts may be tax deductible; consult your tax adviser for more information.