by Malik Vincent

The students arrived to Point Park University July 30—the site of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation’s Frank Bolden Urban Journalism Workshop and didn’t see one of its most recognizable faces.

Program co-director and founder Chris Moore was urged by doctors to have surgery on a leg that he’d injured while on vacation a week prior. It kept him out of the weeklong residential program for the first time in 28 years.

NEWSROOM—Students in the PBMF Urban Journalism Workshop work diligently to complete stories for the program’s publication The Urban Agenda. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

“It was disappointing to me that I wasn’t there to give the students both life and journalistic skills,” Moore said. “I found out the day before the workshop. It wasn’t my choosing. The doctors told me if I went through with attending the Workshop, I’d be playing with my health.”

There are four different concentrations within the workshop: print, radio, television and web/multimedia/photography. Every year, when selected for their sections, the students are expected to produce high-quality works, using the exact interfaces that their professional counterparts use.

Many program alumni, such as Lisa Kay Davis—who coordinates the web section, come in during the week and guide the youth through their respective curriculums.

“This year, we felt it was important to create more of an online community where alums and students could share and learn more about each other,” said Davis, who currently lives and works in New York City. “For example we placed more broadcast tapes on our YouTube channel, linked our Facebook fan page to our Twitter feed and featured all four workshop components on the site. Using all of these channels helps students establish relationships that reach far beyond the workshop week.”

The 2011 workshop’s webpage can be accessed at

Anthony Cave, 18, a freshman at Florida International University, made the trip from Miami, Fla. He said he found the Workshop via Google and noticed that the PBMF program accepted graduated high school seniors. He found the work and process to be rigorous.

“It was intense to wake up at 7 a.m., daily,” Cave said. “To get up, eat breakfast, study for the news quiz, and have to exceed a certain score to win was hard. The program was, surprisingly really strict but I feel it was something that I needed as a young journalist. It kept me on my P’s and Q’s.”

No stranger to similar functions, this was his fifth and according to him, “final high school workshop.” He’d previously attended workshops at the University of Alabama, University of Florida, the University of Miami, and Marshall University in West Virginia.

“I appreciated how this workshop forced me to stand up and stand out,” Cave added. “As a journalist you have to speak confidently and you want people to know exactly who you are.”

Cave also mentioned that the group’s trip to PNC Park also made the trip up north worth his while.

Moore believes that the continued success of the workshop will depend on its alumni to step forward and do, what he calls, “giving back.”

“There are several ways for the alumni of this workshop to give back to the current students,” he said. “One way is to come back and to teach a class. But there are many other ways that they can contribute. There are a ton of things that we have to pay for throughout the week. If it takes someone who is doing well in their career and liked what we did for them, giving a minimum of $25 or as much as $100, would be a tremendous way to keep our program running strong.”

There are a number of donors—both foundations and local entities/businesses that give their time and services throughout the week.

For the student newscast, JCPenney in Monroeville Mall donated the apparel that was worn on set. Designs by S. Renee rendered makeup services and Elliot Simpson of LeKurion provided hair designs free of charge. The Barbers Inn Male Spa and Barber Shop cut the young lads’ hair pro-bono, as well.

Speaking of community contributions, Emmai Alaquiva, the artistic director of the Hip Hop On Lock Music education program opened his doors to the students. They had to develop a business plan for a music production that they recorded in his studio, Ya Momz House—located in East Liberty.

The students split up into two teams and had to compete for which overall scheme was better to the judges who were compiled of workshop instructors. They made an encore appearance on Lockdown Radio, Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. The radio transcript was then placed on the HHOL website at

Helping in the student projects were the Post-Gazette, Tribune Review and the New Pittsburgh Courier, as well as various radio and television stations in the Pittsburgh market.

(Malik Vincent can be reached at

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