close
close

Austin “Auzzy” Jerard Byrdsell: The influence of student journalists should not be underestimated

Austin “Auzzy” Jerard Byrdsell: The influence of student journalists should not be underestimated
Austin “Auzzy” Jerard Byrdsell: The influence of student journalists should not be underestimated

Austin “Auzzy” Jerard Byrdsell
Austin “Auzzy” Jerard Byrdsell

Image by Kollin Washington

This essay is part of a series—we asked 17 Atlanta residents to tell us how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 affected their lives on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. Read all the essays here.

Growing up, I never saw myself as an activist or believed I had leadership skills. But as I began my career as a journalist, I realized that the work of social justice activists is much more than leading protests and speaking to crowds—the actions we commonly think of as activism.

I grew up in Atlanta surrounded by the mystique and prestige of civil rights leaders—particularly those who emerged from the Atlanta University Center. When I came to Morehouse College, the campus culture of balance taught me about activism and social justice. As journalists, I learned, we have the power to amplify underrepresented voices, which can serve as a catalyst for more change in communities that need it. In my role as editor-in-chief of Morehouse’s student-run Maroon Tiger For the newspaper, I led coverage of police brutality, housing inequality for marginalized populations, the war between Israel and Hamas, challenges to gender norms, and more. Through these experiences, I realized how storytelling creates necessary conversations on a global scale.

Writing these important stories also puts us journalists in a unique position: We have the chance to work behind the scenes and build real relationships with citizens and community leaders who drive the engines of the stories we actually tell readers. When we do our due diligence as reporters and communicators, those leaders continue to trust us to share their truths, making our work in the social justice space even more important around the world. I always preach to my editorial staff that our influence as student journalists and students in media can never be underestimated. We have some of the most unique angles and perspectives on today’s stories that the general public would not otherwise have access to. The correlation between journalism, truth, and social liberation will always keep the value and need for honest and competent reporters at the forefront of our society.

My vision is to lead reporting at every level to continue telling new stories in new places. I will serve as an editor in chief or senior news editor so I can impact the lives of storytellers the way my editors have impacted mine. Great journalists are born with great leaders.

Austin “Auzzy” Jerard Byrdsell is a senior at Morehouse College. He is editor-in-chief of The Chestnut TigerFounding President of the Morehouse College Association of Black Journalists and news intern at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This article appears in our June 2024 issue.

Advertising

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *