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Membership Spotlight: Nisa Islam Muhammad
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NAME: Nisa Islam Muhammad

CITY: Washington, DC

LOCAL CHAPTER AFFILIATION: Washington Association of Black Journalists

OCCUPATION: Staff Writer for The Final Call Newspaper and Host for American Dream on Press TV

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN NABJ? 2004

LEADERSHIP ROLES WITHIN THE ORGANZIATION: Co Chair Black Press Task Force

EDUCATION: University of Maryland Baltimore County, BA in psychology.   Howard University  Journalism classes

CAREER MILESTONES/ HIGHLIGHTS:

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism New Media Fellowship

Travels to Cuba.  Contingent of  Black journalists organized by NABJ Founder, DeWayne Wickham.  Exclusive interview with exiled Assata Shakur. 

Spotlight on the gracious offer by Fidel Castro for a free medical school education at the Latin American Medical School for low income and minority students. 

2010 Best Local Reporting Award from the New American Media. 

Trip to Libya to cover the conference on African Migrants, "A Decent Life in Europe or a Welcome Return to Africa.”

Covered the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Accepted the 2005 Black Press Award from the Washington Association of Black Journalists for The Final Call

***

Tell us about yourself.

I'm the third child of Lonnie and Bertha Miller born and raised in Washington, DC.   I grew up in the Baptist church where my father was the Associate Pastor.  While in college I heard Minister Farrakhan speak at Howard University and converted to Islam.  I'm married and have five children.  I'm also passionate about the Black family.  I founded and lead a non profit called Wedded Bliss Foundation that was featured in 2009 on CNN's Black in America 2.  I've written nearly all of my life.  In elementary school I wrote books for sick children that were used by the Red Cross.  When I wanted something from my mother and I was unsure of her response I wrote her a letter.  While in college I wrote love letters for my friends. They were a big hit. 

In addition to writing for The Final Call Newspaper, I've recently transitioned into broadcast journalism. I produce and host a show on Press TV, Iran's only English speaking news station, called American Dream.  Each week there's a different news topic that I explore with guests. I've been doing it since December. It has been both inspiring and rewarding.

What inspired you to work in journalism/ media related profession?

I love to write and I especially love to tell stories.  Further, I enjoy being the conduit between the world's affairs and my readers.  I realized that writing was my passion during my second semester of my senior year.  I had never written on a school newspaper but in my heart knew that I could and could do it well.  I graduated and applied to Howard University.  It was like going through undergrad all over again because Howard does not have a masters in journalism program.  So I took all the journalism classes I could.  I even wrote for the Hilltop, the school's newspaper.  That's where I met Sam Yette and my life was forever changed as a writer.

How has NABJ benefited you professionally?

NABJ has been the glue that has cemented me to the journalism profession.  I have met some incredible people, spoke on exciting panels at the convention and attended amazing conferences. I've learned new skills and more.

What advice do you have for aspiring young journalists/ media related professionals?

Let your passion for writing take you places you've never gone before. Write with pride and courage. Tell the stories others are afraid to tell.  We need writers to tell the truth about our condition and what's happening in our communities.  We need to speak truth to power and not just regurgitate the stereotypes that seem to always find their place in the news.  Love what you do and write stories that your mother would be proud to read.  Start something new, an online newspaper, magazine, news show or something else.  We need more publications that serve our community. 

What are your thoughts on the future of journalism?

Journalism will be here as long as there is news to tell which should be forever.  Keep up with the technology and find your place in the future.   While others bemoan the death of the newspaper, lets celebrate the birth of new technology.

The one tool you can't live without as a journalist/ media related professional?

I have three tools, my EVO phone which can also serve as a recorder and camera, my camera which can also record video and my Ipad.  I can cover just about any story with those things. 

Please tell us who in journalism/your profession you admire and why?

Askia Muhammad-News Director WPFW Washington, DC-He has taken the road less traveled and excelled in journalism.  I love his writing, I love his commentary and his opinions.  I can better understand the world by listening to and reading his works.  He's my sounding board when I need advice.  I trust his judgment and honor his ability to speak truth to power. 

DeWayne Wickham-NABJ founder and USA Today Columnist-He showed me the possibilities in journalism. I love listening to his stories and love reading his column. I admire his work to help those really in need.  He had a scholarship fund for students who had low grades but not because they couldn't do the work but because of some traumatic event in their lives.  I'm amazed by that kind of devotion to help young people. He also runs the Trotter's Group, another amazing concept.

I also love the writing and works of Dorothy Gilliam, Lonnae O'Neal and Oprah.

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