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White House Correspondent, April Ryan Named 2017 NABJ Journalist of the Year

April Ryan

April Ryan

April Ryan has been selected as the 2017 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The annual award recognizes a black journalist who has a distinguished body of work that has extraordinary depth, scope and significance to people of the African Diaspora.

A 30-year journalism veteran, Ryan has a unique vantage point as the only black female reporter covering urban issues from the White House – a position she has held for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) since January 1997. Her position as a White House correspondent for AURN has afforded her unusual insight into the racial sensitivities, issues and political struggles of our nation’s last three presidents.  

“April Ryan is a true trailblazer and truth seeker. She’s dogged and unapologetic about her pursuit of the story,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “In the White House press corps circle, where too few black women have been given an opportunity to report, April has excelled and persevered in spite of the many obstacles she has confronted. Her work has risen to the top.”

Trailblazer adequately describes Ryan, who received the 2016 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Trailblazer Award from the National Council of Negro Women, an honor she was ecstatic about receiving. She has served on the board of the prestigious White House Correspondent’s Association. She is one of only three African Americans in the association’s more than 100-year history to serve on its board. She is also a member of the National Press Club.

On behalf of American Urban Radio Networks’ 300 affiliates, and through her “Fabric of America” news blog, Ryan delivers her readership and listeners a “unique urban and minority perspective in news.”

A Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate, Ryan gives back by serving as a mentor to aspiring journalists, and helps develop up-and-coming broadcasters. As much as she loves her job, which has expanded since recently joining CNN as a political analyst, Ryan is especially proud of what she calls her greatest life’s work – her two daughters, Ryan and Grace.

“It is wonderful to be honored by such an esteemed organization,” said Ryan. “I am humbled and honored. So many of these [NABJ] journalists do important work and I am so thankful they would think of me for this honor. It has been an amazing couple of months and you guys give me some wind to say ‘keep going.’

Ryan has made headlines while working her beat at the White House. She had public exchanges with President Donald J. Trump over the Congressional Black Caucus and with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Her tense exchange with Spicer helped fuel the #BlackWomenAtWork hashtag.
While thankful for the honor, Ryan also took a minute to reflect on the industry and encourage black journalists to remain vigilant because “we add to the stories.”

“We all have a job to do and some of the stories we are doing wouldn’t be told if it weren’t for us,” Ryan elaborated. “We all need to keep pressing because the First Amendment is under attack.”  

Ryan is more than deserving of this award,” said NABJ Vice President-Broadcast Dorothy Tucker. “She has had a stellar career and we know that she will continue to cover the White House providing accurate, fair and exceptional reports, while asking the tough, probing questions that we know and respect her for.”

Ryan is the author of the award winning book, “The Presidency in Black and White,” garnered her an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author. Her latest book, “At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White,” published in December 2016, looks at race relations through the lessons and wisdom that mothers have given their children. A paperback version of “The Presidency in Black and White,” with updates about President Trump, will be published later this year.
Ryan will be recognized at the NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards at the NABJ Convention and Career Fair on Aug. 12, 2017 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel. NABJ Convention registration and Salute to Excellence Awards tickets are for sale here.

NABJ congratulates April Ryan on this well-deserved honor.

What It Do With the LUE: Big Sexy Men


By Lue Dowdy

Three more Big Sexy Men is WHAT IT DO! Calling all you sexy big men to strut on the runway for the 1st Big Sexy Male Competition in the Inland Empire!

LUE Productions is doing it again by bringing entertaining shows and events to the Inland Empire. Are you the next B.S.M.? Do you think you have what it takes to take the crown and the $500.00 in cash? If so, register today with LUE Productions today. The show is scheduled for Sunday, August 20. This will be epic! Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Bag Tickets (http://bpt.me/2916554). Details below and until next week L’z!

The contestants competing are Alfred Parker, Clyde Gatewood, Daniel Fromm, Denis Dickerson, Edwin Johnson, Jonny Taylor, and Maurice Cunningham. The event host is comedian Tamiko Kirkland and there will be special appearances by models Dee Dela Cruz and Krystal Yvonne. Each male contestant will be competing in the categories of Boss Look! Must utilize some sort of prop. Judges will give high scores for the best prop; Summer Nights on Catalina Island; Free Style look, Question round and final walk (Formal Attire); and Talent.  All contestants must provide a 2 to 3 minute performance. You can SING, rap, play an instrument, dance, recite poetry, and or act. whatever your talent is show it off.

We are currently looking for vendors. If interested, please call (909) 567-1000 or email Lue.info@yahoo.com.

New Electrification Program to Invest Over 12 Billion in New Energy Africa Energy Deal

By Neil Ford

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled its new electrification program, under which it will invest 12 billion dollars over the next five years.

The funds will support its New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to achieve universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025. The plan was born out of the Energy Week conference held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire at the end of March, which brought stakeholders together to discuss methods of improving energy access.

Until relatively recently, the AfDB and other organizations regarded off-grid power provision as a stop-gap measure, designed to provide electricity to people until their homes were connected to the grid; however, the global boom in renewable energy technologies and the growing attraction of energy self-sufficiency in the West has changed the way the concept is viewed. The process is likely to accelerate when battery storage becomes cheaper and more efficient.

The scale of the off-grid ambition is demonstrated by the fact that the Bank has set a target of providing “decentralised solar technologies” – in other words, off-grid solar PV – to 75m households and businesses over the next five years. The change of heart is largely a function of the falling cost of off-grid solar [link to the piece I wrote on this previously, in relation to West Africa]. On-grid electrification has been a very slow process and the AfDB has recognised that off-grid solar PV kits are proving far more effective.

At present, solar panels, batteries and other components are manufactured elsewhere in the world, predominantly in Asia. They are imported in Africa, mainly in East Africa, by companies who sell them on to customers. Small weekly or monthly payments are made, often by mobile phone, until the solar kit is paid off.

It is likely to sound like a gross exaggeration to many readers, but it seems likely that almost all Africans will have access to electricity within the next decade.  This is because individual solar PV kits in East Africa are now as cheap as kerosene as a source of energy. They will not yet provide sufficient electricity to power the appliances to give a Western-style standard of living, but the cost of fridges, washing machines and other appliances is still out of the reach of most African families in any case. Yet they will provide enough energy for electric light and the ability to charge mobile phones.  It is often argued that the first kilowatt-hour is the most important.

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said: “Africa’s energy potential is as enormous as its electricity deficit. We must move quickly to unlock this energy potential. We must be smart, efficient, sustainable and quick in our actions…Although we can employ a mix of approaches, off-grid solutions must be at the core of our approach to achieve the ambitious electricity access targets that we have set.”

Bright Future

The AfDB is keen to see decentralised solar PV take off in the rest of the continent, beyond East Africa, and is keen to use its financial muscle to support long-term integrated planning and hedging tools to mitigate foreign exchange risks. It can also play a role in encouraging skills development and in the longer term possibly also component manufacturing within Africa.

Yet the private sector has taken the lead on off-grid electrification to date, so the process will take place with or without large-scale financing because of the economics of the technology. Looking further ahead, there will be increasing pressure to integrate on- and off-grid power provision so that people with multiple solar panels can sell electricity to others, as well as tapping into grid supplies when they need more power, or require back-up.

The big question is whether this process will be centred on national grids or far more localised mini-grids, perhaps covering just single villages. This issue was discussed in meetings on the sidelines of Energy Week but will surely become a more central concern in the future. The latter seems more likely in the short term, but in the long term the former may become more important, turning power utilities into infrastructure operators and power trading platforms more than generators in their own right.