Kynala Phillips, a former Madison365 Academy intern and editorial assistant and current freelance reporter, has earned a ProPublica Diversity Scholarship to attend the 2019 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Conference August 7-11 in Miami.
Each year, more than 3,000 journalists attend the five-day slate of career development programs, events and networking opportunities, according to the NABJ’s website.
“I thought it was really cool because they didn’t focus on your resume and your experience, (but) moreso why you love journalism and why you want to do it,” said Phillips, who is co-president of the University of Wisconsin’s NABJ chapter this year. “I was able to answer some questions about what types of journalism I want to go into, and just what inspires me to be a journalist, not so much on those regular standards, like all the internships you’ve had or your GPA.”
Phillips said she told ProPublica she wants to use journalism to tell stories that haven’t been told and to network with more journalists of color.
“I really love journalism, specifically working with Madison365 … being able to uplift stories that aren’t always heard,” she said. “I feel like there are a lot of news organizations who don’t find certain aspects of my life or my community newsworthy and I feel like that’s why I got into journalism. I could uplift those stories and start showing people there are things that they are doing initiatives that they’re partaking in that are actually newsworthy and deserve to be heard.”
Phillips said she is inspired by magazine journalism particularly, and hopes to go that direction after she graduates in 2020.
“I explained (in the application) explained I am also interested in magazine journalism. I like the combination of visuals and design and then also the storytelling,” she said. “I talked about my aspirations to kind of break into magazine journalism, but also being very rooted in like social justice like social action when it comes to talking about different stories.”
Phillips said she hopes to connect and network with fellow Black journalists — something she hasn’t been able to do much until now.
“Being from Madison, I would say I personally have met four professional Black journalists,” she said. “Notably Amber Walker and Nicholas Garton. Those are the only people who I actually got to interact within newsrooms and talk to. In a field where there are so many journalists, it’s kind of crazy that I have only met that few (Black) people who are doing it professionally. So I think is my biggest goal is to get down there and just meet people, hear about why they chose the field and why they still like persist in the field.”
Walker, a former Madison365 intern and Capital Times education reporter, is now a journalism graduate student at New York University. Garton, who was a Madison365 Academy intern at the same time as Phillips, is now a full-time reporter with Madison365.
“It’s been remarkable watching Kynala grow and find her voice as a journalist,” said Madison365 CEO and Publisher Henry Sanders. “She has told some wonderful stories from our community and really embodies the 365 state of mind. We are incredibly proud.”
Just back from a semester abroad in London, Phillips is also serving a public relations internship at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
Phillips is one of 20 students nationally to receive scholarships to attend conferences hosted by NABJ, Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, as well as the Excellence in Journalism Conference.
Phillips said she’s considering graduate school as well as career options after her final year in the journalism school at UW. In either case, five days among thousands of Black journalists is sure to give her a boost.
“I have big dreams,” she said.