Michel Martin delivers Herblock Lecture and donates honorarium to Gulf States Newsroom

Washington D.C., April 28, 2022 -- All Things Considered weekend host Michel Martin delivered the prestigious lecture at The Herblock Prize awards ceremony held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., on April 26. This year's winner was Lalo Alcaraz, a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist and the creator of the syndicated daily comic strip, "La Cucaracha," published nationwide since 2002. The Herb Block Foundation every year requests a notable lecturer to speak when it presents its award for excellence in editorial cartooning. Guest speakers discuss social issues of the day in the spirit of Herb Block. In lieu of the usual payment for lecturers, the Foundation continues to honor Block's legacy of the importance of not only drawing attention to current social injustices, but also giving back to the communities in need. The lecturer therefore agrees to donate a $20,000 honorarium to give to a nonprofit (501c3) organization of their choice in their name from The Herb Block Foundation.

"As this year's lecturer for the Herb Block Foundation's annual Herblock awards I am granted $20,000 to award to the nonprofit of my choice. In recognition of the outstanding work of Priska Neely, as well as the precarious state of local news in the region she serves, I decided to give 'my' $20,000 to the Gulf States Newsroom under the direction of Priska, headquartered at WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama," said Michel Martin. "The Gulf States Newsroom is part of a project by NPR to support news coverage in underserved areas. It serves the mid-southern states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi – and I hope she will use the gift to support her reporters' outstanding work and encourage them to reach even higher."

"Michel's speech focused on the crisis of journalism deserts and she requested her gift go to the Gulf States Newsroom for the outstanding work of Priska Neely to support news coverage in underserved areas. It is an important and timely issue and the Foundation is honored to support Michel Martin and her gift," said Marcela Brané, president of The Herb Block Foundation.

"This is so meaningful and inspiring! Our collaboration was in its infancy a year and a half ago and it's incredible to be validated in this way by someone I admire and respect so much," said Priska Neely, Managing Editor, Gulf States Newsroom. "When Michel was in Montgomery a couple of months ago, I had the chance to catch up with her and share the journey that the Gulf States Newsroom team has been on and the stories we've been able to tell. We are so grateful to now have this huge show of support as we continue covering this vital region. What an amazing way to pay it forward!"

"Michel Martin has always been a champion of local news and prioritized delivering local communities with excellent storytelling and engagement. It's an honor that she has recognized The Gulf States newsroom as an example of strong local journalism. Priska Neely is an incredible managing editor that has created an innovative collaborative newsroom, recruited top-notch reporters and focused on impact journalism that served the Gulf States communities. We're thankful for Michel Martin's gift which allows us to continue to do the work," added Kenya Young, NPR's Managing Editor for Collaborative Journalism.

The Collaborative Journalism Network is building partnerships among groups of public radio stations, in close coordination with NPR, to strengthen their local and regional impact and help bring more of their reporting to a national audience. NPR and stations are planning coverage together, sharing technology that improves efficiency, and honing best practices for engaging, insightful reporting. The Gulf States Newsroom is one of four regional newsrooms, along with the Gulf States, the Midwest and Texas newsrooms, that are helping fill the gaps in local news coverage across the country. Parts of the Gulf states region are considered news deserts, as many existing local news outlets have gradually disappeared and journalists have been laid off by the masses. The Gulf States Newsroom aims to help fill that news void by uniting public radio reporters to cover health care, criminal justice, the economy, and more. Read more about the Gulf States Newsroom here.

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NPR: Isabel Lara, [email protected]