Journalism student wins CNN iReport competition

Florida A&M University broadcast journalism student Jermaine Fletcher won the CNN iReport contest, which was open to all FAMU students. The contest began March 28 and ended April 1.

Produced by CNN and the National Association of Black Journalists, the contest was an effort to promote the “Black in America” tour, which will be held April 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.  FAMU is the first stop on the tour.

Each contestant had to submit an iReport on one of the topics given.  Fletcher, 22, a senior from Richmond, Va., said he chose the topic “What does it mean to be Black in America?” in order to construct a video that would have a “greater impact and get stronger responses from different individuals.”

“I felt it would produce the most interesting and captivating answer that hasn’t been answered,” Fletcher said. ” I was anxious to hear what people had to say.”

Working as a videographer on the weekends at WCTV, Fletcher said he knew what approach he would take to create the video.  Instead of expressing opinions, he posed questions. 

“You can have more discussion of the video based on the questions that are asked,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher interviewed a majority of blacks, but wanted to gain another perspective on the race issue so he interviewed a white female. Noticing that “her response was favorable and she wished more whites went to HBCUs,” shed light on the importance of HBCUs, Fletcher said. 

Fletcher wanted to interview more ethnic groups, but he completed the video on the last day of the contest and was restricted by time. He said he was still proud of how successful the video was.

With experience and skill, Fletcher said he “edited (the video) in a way that was professional, well-balanced and hopeful.” 

Kalisha Whitman, an Internet reporter for WCTV and FAMU alumna, said Fletcher’s skills have created remarkable talent that will push him to the forefront in the field of journalism.

“His editing skills are immaculate…he has a vision in his head and really gets the point across,” she said.

Whitman recalled a time when she needed help on a special project and Fletcher, using his videography skills, assisted in a helpful way.

“The way he grasps the angles and close-ups of a video,” she said, helped “bring it to life.” 

Fletcher impressed journalism professor and Knight Chair of Journalism Joe Ritchie with his application and expertise while sharing his talent with teenagers on the Caribbean island of Bonaire during spring break.               

“I was looking for someone with good all-around skills…because of his skills we were able to add a video workshop,” Ritchie said.

The spring break trip was organized by Ritchie to train and teach teenagers of the Bonaire Youth Foundation how to produce a professional radio show and learn TV production skills. 

As a winner of the first round of the contest, Fletcher received a digital camera and is eligible to compete in the second phase, where the CNN tour at FAMU has to be documented and reported.  The winner of the second phase will win tickets to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans this summer.

To see Fletcher’s video, log on to and type Jermaine Fletcher in the search field.