Globe Writer Wins Media Resource Network Award

Boston Globe reporter Zachary Dowdy received the Journalist of the Year award from the Boston College-based Community Media Resource Network at the organization's annual awards ceremony and graduation in Vanderslice Hall on April 10.

Achievement certificates were presented to nine Media Fellows from five local grassroots groups who completed a year-long training program in media-relations strategy given by the network, which helps community-based organizations and non-profits build working relations with Boston-area media.

Dowdy was honored for his efforts as co-chairman of the Boston Association of Black Journalists to build understanding between urban neighborhood groups and the press.

The network is a joint project of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the Boston College Media Research Action Project, an institute directed by Prof. William Gamson (Sociology) and Sociology Department Assistant Researcher Charlotte Ryan that seeks to strengthen the ability of progressive community, labor and social justice groups to present their views in the media.

Community activist groups represented in the network's latest class of Media Fellows were Cooperative Economics for Women, which works with immigrant women to establish work co-operatives; Franklin Field-Franklin Hill Dorchester Healthy Boston, which links neighborhood residents to community services; and City Life/Vida Urbana, a bilingual group that works for affordable housing in Jamaica Plain.

Also represented were the Irish Immigration Center, which provides recent immigrants from Ireland and elsewhere with information on legal and social services, and Project RIGHT Inc., a coalition of 30 organizations working for community economic development in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury.

To practice media skills, each organization undertook a field project. CEW, for example, provided information on welfare and immigration reform through non-English press and broadcast media, while Project RIGHT worked with the Boston Association of Black Journalists to establish dialogue between local broadcast media and community groups in Roxbury.

Ryan said the aim is to "improve news coverage of communities historically under-represented or misrepresented in mass media.

"We help them get the word out to local papers, and develop systems for maintaining media relations," she said. "They learn to develop the infrastructure and resources needed for a significant and nuanced media strategy."

"The Media Fellows program is a model of university-community collaboration where both parties are enriched by the experience," Gamson said.

- Mark Sullivan

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