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Medill names Michael Fields 2012 Ida B. Wells Award winner

Michael Fields, the news director of WABE-FM in Atlanta, received the 2012 Ida B. Wells Award for his leadership in advancing opportunities for minorities in journalism and promoting the coverage of topics surrounding minorities.

Fields began leading the WABE newsroom in 2006. Since then, he has been encouraging his reporters to take in-depth approaches to stories, such as the station’s coverage of Georgia’s immigration reform and the test-cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools, which has a minority-majority student population.

“I am totally humbled to be honored with an award named for Ida B. Wells,” Field said in his acceptance speech at the award presentation, held on Jan. 26 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. “I cannot conceive of her fight against gender and racial discrimination.”

Medill presents the Ida B. Wells Award jointly with the National Association of Black Journalists. Rose Maria Holmes, a reporter at WABE, nominated Fields for the award.

“Since the WABE newsroom has been under the leadership of Michael Fields, telling truths about diverse and underserved populations has resulted in the station becoming an award-winning and highly regarded news outlet,” Holmes said in the nomination.

In addition, Fields has hired a skilled and diverse workforce at WABE, which has a 10-person newsroom that includes five people of color.

"At a time when diversity has been placed on the back burner by many news organizations, it is wonderful to see that Michael Fields' leadership has played a vital role in shaping a staff that reflects the racial diversity of the Atlanta metro area,” said Medill Associate Professor Ava Greenwell, who introduced Fields at the awards program.

Fields worked to address a challenge he had experienced himself.

“When I started my career, managing diversity meant surviving because I was often the only non-white in the newsroom,” Fields said. “Though there has been some backsliding, that is one area where things are slightly better.”

To learn more about the Ida B. Wells Award and past recipients, click here.