From an idea of wanting to showcase the unique skill set of senior broadcast journalism students to an annual award-winning series, Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC) has elevated what was once Documentary Night to the incomparable J-School Journals.
Since its humble beginning in fall of 2006, the production has become a well-known staple of SJGC's culture. Over the past 12-years, J-School Journals has given students a platform to tell the untold stories within the African-American community through documentaries form.
Kenneth Jones, broadcast journalism professor and director of J-School Journals, said that the purpose of J-School Journals is to showcase FAMU students utilizing their point of view to tell stories in a unique way as filmmakers.
As each semester begins, students in Jones’ specialized reporting class, start from pre-production, drafting their treatments and present their documentary topics in front of their classmates.
“First, we look at the uniqueness of the story, the relevance of story and the potential for us to do it in 15 weeks, which is huge and that is the main criteria,” Jones explained.
The best documentaries are chosen to carry out in full form. From then on, the process of creating their documentaries begins with the student reporter and help from student producers.
A month shy of Women’s History Month, the line-up of producers are women. Their documentaries will be presented on April 28 in Lee Hall Auditorium at noon.
Senior broadcast journalism student Giselle Thomas’ “Loneliness: The Solution” documentary focuses on loneliness in the elderly community and solutions for them. The documentary was done by her and her partner Kiah Lewis.
“I wanted to do something different, a lot of our J-School documentaries focus on building projects or other things going on in the community, involving our generations, the generation in front of us or what is to come,” Thomas said. “I wanted to bring it back and talk about our past generations, the people who helped raise us. Hearing about what they did in their lives is great.”
Thomas has admired the production of J-School Journals since her sophomore year on “the Hill” in fall of 2014, it is like a dream come true for her to be one of the filmmakers.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to present at J-School Journals. I have always admired the producers that walk up on that stage and how they answer the questions and just see that wow, students made a documentary,” Thomas said.
Under the direction of Jones, many students have produced award-winning documentaries, that have gone far beyond the SJGC classroom. Jones spoke of his students’ accomplishments and the accolades they have received from their documentaries.
"Pretty much every year we have been awarded. Matter of fact we’re winning a Florida AP Award, April 14 in Orlando for a J-school Journal documentary that we showed spring 2017 called “Taking the Jersey Off,” Jones said.
To give filmmakers more time to focus on their craft, visiting professor Ranata Hughes’ public relations communication class serves as the PR representatives for each filmmaker.
Senior public relations student, Aliyah Glover, serves as the student PR coordinator of J-School Journals. Glover’s goals for the production are for all avenues to run smoothly for the filmmakers, as well as for the guest to enjoy the show.
“My team and I are working hard every day to ensure that everything runs smoothly as far as things behind the scenes, for this great group filmmakers on their special day,” Glover said.
The documentaries that will be shown at J-School Journals include:
“Loneliness: The Solution” by Giselle Thomas and Kiah Lewis, focuses on loneliness in the elderly community and solutions for them.
“The Fire in Their Hearts” by Monica Myrick and Lyric Mattair, focuses on the mental, physical and other challenges for actors.
“It’s Knot Time Yet” created by Anjelicia Bruton and Aaliyah Wilkerson discusses the increasing age to be married or not.
“Inside Out” the diary of overcoming adversity by Ashley Jackson and Mikaya Kelly.
"Beauty Beneath the Butterfly” by Jaclyn Harold and Ashley Flete, tells the story prevailing beyond the challenges of living with Lupus
Lastly, a preview of “BiPARTYsan” by Brea Hollingsworth and Daria Laycock, for the fall 2018 series of J-School Journals will be shown.