Jackie Jones was hooked on journalism in college after realizing that her series of articles about students demanding better food options had spurred a change at the George Washington University.
As the new dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication, Jones said she’ll ensure that students learn to report based on community needs.
“I want to look for opportunities to get in front of what is [a] cutting-edge delivery system of news and information and to ensure we are reaching out to the Baltimore community. And that we are reaching out to people who have felt largely ignored by the news media,” said Jones, who succeeded founding dean DeWayne Wickham on Aug. 2.
Under her leadership as former assistant dean for programs, Jones said the school formed several partnerships to train and mentor students, including workshops by the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which focuses on training Black journalists, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic.
Jones noted that two Morgan State alumnae who graduated last year — Cierra Queen and Jaylynn Moffatt-Mowatt— were on The New York Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize this year for COVID-19 coverage.
“We’ve done a lot. I want more of that,” she said. “I also think that we should be looking at the next step, which is trying to figure out our place among the top journalism schools.”
The news industry continues to face financial challenges, causing massive layoffs. According to the Pew Research Center, newspaper jobs fell “57% between 2008 and 2020, from roughly 71,000 jobs to about 31,000.”
Oyin Adedoyin, a reporting fellow at The Chronicle of Higher Education and a 2021 alumna, said Jones made a huge impact on her career. Aside from their professional relationship, she said Jones helped her find housing in Washington after when she landed her job at The Chronicle.
“She would always tell me about someone who I should be in contact with in the industry,” said Adedoyin, former editor-in-chief of The MSU Spokesman, Morgan State’s student-run newspaper. Adedoyin was an intern for the Baltimore Sun in 2019.
Tramon Lucas, digital producer at WBAL-TV 11, also praised Jones. Lucas, 27, served as Jones’ student aide and said she told him: “If you are not too sure about what you want to do in the [journalism] field, find what works for you.”
She also helped him network with veteran journalists, including then-Associated Press journalist Sonya Ross, where he landed a general assignment reporting internship.
“As dean, I think she’s going to elevate and inspire a lot of students and do the same things that she did for me and my friends,” he said.
Jones, who commutes from D.C. to Baltimore, said sometimes it’s hard, but she does whatever it takes to get the job done, such as spend the night at a hotel or a friend’s home.
When she was younger, she didn’t know she’d be working as a dean, she said, but she knew she wanted to be able to make an impact.
“Being at a [historically Black college and university], it’s not an unlikely thing,” she said. “Had I been at a predominantly white institution, I might have had a different sense of it.”
A 1976 graduate of the George Washington University, Jones, 67, has more than 40 years of experience, including positions at The Washington Post, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Evening Sun and Philadelphia Daily News. In 1992, she was one of the editors on the New York Newsday team that won a Pulitzer Prize for spot news about a subway derailment that killed five and left hundreds injured.
Her favorite reporter job was at The Evening Sun in 1980, she said, where she covered state prisons and religion. The evening paper stopped publishing in 1995 and was merged into The Sun, the morning paper, which eventually became known as The Baltimore Sun.
Covering state prisons allowed her to report on how incarcerated people can be rehabilitated, she said.
For her, the key to being an outstanding journalist is to be fair and accurate.
“You have to tell people how you know what you know [and] where you got it from,” she said.
This article is part of our Newsmaker series that profiles notable people in the Baltimore region who are having an impact in our diverse communities. If you’d like to suggest someone who should be profiled, please send their name and a short description of what they are doing to make a difference to: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Editor Kamau High at firstname.lastname@example.org.