ABOUT ROCHELLE

ROCHELLE RILEY’S award-winning columns have appeared in the Detroit Free Press and at www.freep.com since 2000. She has spent 20 years crusading for better lives for children, government accountability and improved race relations. She also has spent 16 years promoting the need to increase adult literacy, helping to raise nearly $2 million for literacy causes in Michigan. She is the author of “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery” (Wayne State University Press, 2018). She has worked at The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News and The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where her debut column calling for a museum to honor native son Muhammad Ali helped spur an $80 million campaign to build the Muhammad Ali Center.  In 2000, she was recruited to the Detroit Free Press, where her debut column called for the city schools to be shut down. In 2010, just months after Detroit voted to elect council members by district for the first time in a century, Rochelle – working with a data think tank and the newspaper’s design team – created seven proposed districts to show voters what their piece of the pie could look like. She held town halls in each area to encourage residents to embrace their neighborhoods and the idea of accountability from council members. The city council later created seven council districts that looked like the ones she created.  Once, when the governor and legislature couldn’t balance the state budget, she convened a kitchen cabinet of female financial expert, and they did it – in two days – without cutting education. And in 2015, she joined the campaign to raise funds to test rape kits found abandoned in a police storage unit. She helped a women’s group raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for those tests. And she is currently campaigning to have Detroit’s convention center named for boxing legend Joe Louis, after the arena currently bearing his name is torn down. The action would remove the name of a former mayor who ran his campaign opposing the “Negro invasion” of the city’s white neighborhoods. Rochelle’s honors include a National Headliner Award, a National Scripps Howard Award and numerous first-place honors from Associated Press-Managing Editors, the Michigan Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and NABJ. Her columns about the fall of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were part of the entry that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting. She was a 2016 finalist for the ASNE Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing. During her decades of service to the National Association of Black Journalists, Rochelle has helped train hundreds of journalists in high school journalism workshops and the student training programs at NABJ, APME and ASNE summer conventions. A strong advocate for press freedom, Rochelle is co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Global Journalism Task Force, which works to increase the number of minority journalists covering the world. And she is a board member of the North American Committee of the Vienna-based International Press Institute. She has traveled to 25 countries and counting. She was a 2007-2008 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she studied online communities and film. She was a 2016 inductee into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame and is the 2017 winner of the NABJ Ida B. Wells Award, an annual honor given to an individual who has made outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. The Ida B. Wells Award is named in honor of the distinguished journalist, fearless reporter and wife of one of America’s earliest black publishers. The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University co-curates the Ida B. Wells award with NABJ. “Rochelle Riley’s stellar career as a journalist and as a mentor to scores of up-and-coming young journalists represents the kind of passion and commitment the Ida B. Wells Award was created to recognize and celebrate,” Charles Whitaker, associate dean at Medill, said in announcing the award. “She is a role model to all of us who care about the present and future of our field. And she is an extremely worthy recipient of this honor.”

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