Sarah Jones-Smith is a graduating senior at Howard University from Orange County, California, majoring in broadcast journalism. She dreams of becoming a highly-respected broadcast journalist, specifically in sports and entertainment. She’s already the recipient of the first-ever Spotlight Network Spirit Award, the 2021-2022 Thurgood Marshall College Fund/ SallieMae Fund Completing the Dream Gap scholarship, and the C Newmark Journalism endowment. She is also one of six Rhoden fellows who reported from the 2022 Super Bowl, and a member of the National Communications Honor Society (Lambda Pi Eta) and Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity.
Q: Why journalism?
A: I know how much power there is in the media. Much of what is produced and published through the news impacts the advancement of society and specific communities. As a journalist, I am committed to using my platform to advocate for, uplift and highlight the Black community.
Q: Why is it important to have women in journalism?
A: Journalism is for the people. Men are not the only members of society; therefore, they should not be the only ones allowed to share news with the world. Women have undeniable value, and our perspectives and interests are just as critical as those of men. Women are capable, powerful and deserve to have their voices heard.
Q: The #MeToo movement saw a fair share of reports coming out of newsrooms. How do you hope to contribute to the change around this?
A: I hope to contribute to changing sexist, toxic newsrooms by working so hard that I end up in a position where I can recruit other hard-working Black women and provide them opportunities to work in these spaces. I will also use my voice to speak out against inequity.
Q: What are you personally doing to help contribute to this purpose?
A: One meaningful way I contribute to this purpose is by supporting content created by women. I make sure to interact with articles, news packages and social media posts produced by women, especially Black women, to increase traction and encourage more people to support their work.
Q: Why is it important to have Black journalists? And, specifically, Black female journalists?
A: It is important to have Black journalists because there are cultural practices that a member of the Black community would be able to identify and understand that someone outside of the community may not. This level of understanding allows the journalist to seek information about underlying details only they would know exist because of their cultural competence. An important reason to have Black women as journalists is for young Black girls to have someone to look up to. My interest in being a journalist came when I was 15 years old, and I wish I had been able to see more Black women in the field at that time. I still strongly desire to see more Black women in the field — including myself!
Recently, I had the honor of reporting at the White House. As a young Black woman, this accomplishment was so significant to me because there was a time when my ancestors would not have been allowed to do such a thing. I hope my experiences inspire others, and I hope my professors, family and friends are proud of the person and journalist I am growing into.