Xavierite, Brier Evans, is Finalist in National HBCU Journalism Project

Xavierite, Brier Evans, is Finalist in National HBCU Journalism Project

Black News Channel (BNC) launched their inaugural HBCU Journalism Project to help cultivate and uplift the next generation of Black journalists. The project was designed to provide HBCU students an opportunity to connect with media professionals and discuss inclusivity and diversity in the media industry. Xavier sophomore Brier Evans has been selected as one of eight BNC Journalism Project finalists. She is the only Louisiana student to be selected, and Xavier is the only Louisiana HBCU recognized by BNC’s project. 

BNC reached out to HBCUs across the country asking for nominations of standout student journalists to participate in the project, which included asking students to write an original article. Evans’ article, “The Rising Tide of Black and Brown Women in U.S. Media Leadership Positions,” discusses the increasing number of Black and brown women in media leadership roles. Evans’ article also expresses the importance and significance of leadership positions for women of color in today’s society, not only in journalism but also in print and digital media positions. 

As a mass communications major, Evans’ interest in mass communication and journalism was sparked by an introductory mass communications course with Dr. Shearon Roberts, Head of Xavier’s Department of Mass Communications. 

“Before I knew what mass communication was, I loved storytelling. Dr. Roberts explained all the things you can do with mass communication, such as film, video, and production and writing,” said Evans. “I enjoyed the assignments I was given where I would film and video edit. From there, I was able to see myself doing mass communication in the future.” 

Dr. Roberts also introduced the BNC HBCU Journalism Project to Evans, though she was hesitant to apply as she was worried writing wasn’t her strong suit. Evans was interested in learning how to strengthen her writing skills and Dr. Roberts encouraged her to take a chance by submitting her article. 

“I love the mass communication department. It’s a smaller department, which I find is beneficial to students because the professors are very hands-on, and we get to know one another closely,” said Evans. BNC held a Virtual Media Day offering a range of discussion topics, which helped Evans select the focal point of her article, Black and brown women in U.S. media leadership positions. She was given ten days to write and publish her article in submission to their journalism project. Evans felt connected to the topic of black women in U.S. media and found it to be personally relatable. 

“This topic was the closest to me as I am a black woman trying to get into the media industry,” said Evans. “Black women are always fighting for a spot in this industry, and we have to work twice as hard. I wanted my article to shine a light on that.” Evans’ article also highlights media beauty standards, as more Black women anchors and reporters are showing their natural hairstyles following discussions of natural hair not fitting into conventional beauty standards.

“My last film was entitled ‘Body,’ with the premise of showing how the media can make us as Black women feel insecure about ourselves and how we look,” said Evans. “As intelligent women, we can do so much, and it shouldn’t just be about what our bodies look like.”

Evans emphasized how the Department of Mass Communications has prepared her for success through strengthening her knowledge, skillset and helping her to secure internship opportunities. Evans credits her Xavier mentors, including Dr. Shearon Roberts, Monica Pierre, Assistant Professor of the Department of Communications, and Varion Laurent, Coordinator of Student Publications.

“I was able to get my current internship at The Times-Picayune with the assistance of Dr. Roberts and Ms. Monica Pierre, who introduced me to it and helped me through the application process,” said Evans. “Dr. Roberts, Ms. Pierre, and Mr. Laurent have been very supportive figures in my life. They've pushed me to use my creative eye and to try harder.”

Passionate about the media production side of communications, Evans is pursuing additional internships to help her further discover different aspects of media. In the upcoming weeks, she will know whether or not she will be a top-four HBCU Journalism finalist, where, if selected, she will be offered a summer 2022 BNC internship.

“My parents told me, regardless if I make the top four or not, there is still recognition in making it this far,” said Evans. “You never know what life throws at you or what direction it’ll pull you in. To realize that I do have talent that people recognize is enough for me to know that I make it anywhere.”