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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Spike Lee funds sports journalism program at Morehouse

A $721,000 donation from Morehouse College trustree Shelton "Spike" Lee will bankroll a new Journalism and Sports Program at the college.

Lee, a 1979 Morehouse graduate donated the money to jump-start the sports journalism program housed in the college's English Department . The first classes are now under way, with 20 students already enrolled. It is believed to be the first sports journalism program of its scope and size at any historically black institution of higher learning.

Lee said the idea for the program grew out of talks between him and his close friend, the late Ralph Wiley, an author and former senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

Too often, Lee declared, black athletes are portrayed in the media as "one-dimensional, selfish, immature and poor citizens" because of the lack of African American media representation. "Too long we have been on the field, but not in charge of generating the images of our athletes," Lee said. The solution, he said, is to "train black sports journalists who would willing to interact with athletes and describe them as people."

Athletes want journalists to be fair," said Reggie Roberts, vice president of football communications for the Atlanta Falcons, another panelist. "With 72 percent of players in the NFL being black, we need more black journalists."

The program, is open to English majors at Morehouse and students at nearby Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University and Morris Brown College, will offer two tracks. The first, will concentrate on lectures, panel discussions, mentoring and internships to nurture the students professionally. The second, will focus on course work. The initial courses offered will include one on news-writing and another on the history of sports. The news-writing course is intended to offer the students a solid foundation in journalistic writing.

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