April Ryan has been selected as the 2017 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalist (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.