AFRO team lands multiple awards for excellence in media

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By Alexis Taylor
Special to the AFRO

From social media reporting to page design, the AFRO American Newspapers garnered several awards for work in the communications field this month. 

The AFRO landed multiple first and second place awards presented by the Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Press Association (MDDC), including best advertising campaign and best new business concept.

“I am honored that the work of not just me, but the whole AFRO team has been recognized by a group of our peers in the media- both the Black press and the non-Black press,” said AFRO Executive Director Lenora Howze. 

“I made the choice to leave a traditional, White daily newspaper to work for the AFRO because I really wanted to invest my time, resources and education into the Black press,” said Howze, who won first place in the race for best advertising campaign. “It’s a different type of struggle, but it’s one that is more rewarding when we are able to achieve the kind of victories and successes that we’ve achieved with these awards.”

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The master business woman was recognized in first place alongside Diane Hocker and Denise Dorsey for creating the second part of the “We’re Still Here” series, an advertising-driven special publication printed last year. 

Howze said she always knew she would work in the communications field. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in speech and communications from Temple University and a master of science in business administration and management from Saint Joseph’s University. Upon graduation, Howze launched a career working in her field and was eventually drawn into the world of advertising.

“Advertising is the life blood of any media,” Howze told the AFRO. “Without the ad revenue and support of advertising partners and sponsors we literally could not publish a paper, broadcast news, or print a magazine.” 

“I would encourage communication majors and journalism majors to really consider advertising and marketing at a media company as a serious career.”

MDDC award winner Ilka Robinson- Eaton was shocked by the announcement of her second place award for designing the “We’re Still Here” cover that ran in July of last year. 

“It’s an honor and a surprise. My late mother loved the AFRO American newspaper,” said Robinson- Eaton. “I would call her every Friday to check and see what was going on and she would tell me.”

“I thought of how proud she would be to know that I was asked to do a cover.”

Robinson-Eaton has a passion for the arts that spans across many genres. 

The retired Baltimore City Public Schools teacher is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and has worked as a graphic designer and technical illustrator. 

When she isn’t creating award-winning covers for the AFRO American Newspaper, Robinson- Eaton can be found creating works of stained glass, which has landed her several commissions with area churches, including Israel Baptist Church, Love Alive Ministries and New Shiloh Baptist Church.

The cover Robinson- Eaton was honored for depicts a Black man uplifting a group of descendants, his hands no longer bound by chains. 

“As an artist, your expression is something within you,” said Robinson- Eaton when asked about the inspiration for her work on the July 2020 cover. “I thought about suppression, Black Lives Matter, and everything that was going on.”

“I wanted to show that we’re still here and that we matter.”

Aside from advertising and cover design, the MDDC Press Association also recognized AFRO reporter Micha Green, who took first and second place for general social media reporting. 

Using social media platforms to report the news was a highlight of the publication last year. 

The paper won second place in the “Best Social Media and Engagement Strategy” category of the 2020 Local Media Digital Innovation Awards, presented by the Local Media Association (LMA). 

The same organization also honored Draper as a “Digital Innovator of the Year for Content and Audience” and named the AFRO as the publication with the “Best Branded Content Strategy.”

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