‘Salute Her’ Honoree & Journalist Lola Ogunnaike On The Growing Power Of Black Women In Media

June 20, 2014  |  

When all of the honorees for this year’s “Salute Her” event gather in Newark, NJ tomorrow, journalist Lola Ogunnaike will be among them, taking it all in.

“I’m expecting a lot of laughs and a few tears because I’m a crier,” she told us over the phone. “I know it’ll be an inspiring afternoon.”

The “Salute Her” event, hosted by Cafe Mocha Radio and WBLS, will recognize nine women, the work they do and the empowerment and encouragement they give black women through their efforts. Black women are getting more college degrees more than ever, starting businesses at a faster rate than any other group in the US and making more inroads into industries, academia and civic life each day. Still, it’s nice to know that someone’s got your back.

“When you’re younger, the assumption is you need mentorship and guidance,” Ogunnaike said. Once we’re older, we tend to think that sort of support is no longer needed.

“That assumption is a false one,” she continued. “Black women have made tremendous strides in the workplace and it’s important to continue to support each other as we grow.”

Diversity in media continues to be an issue in search of a resolution. The State of the News Media 2014 report from the Pew Research Journalism Project finds a lack of diversity in newsrooms even as thousands of new digital jobs are created. Only 4,700 of the reporters working at the nation’s 1,400 newspapers are minorities. There are 38,000 total working journalists at those outlets.

Still, there’s no denying that there have been achievements. And Ogunnaike only sees more improvements on the way.

“What’s incredible for me is how many black women are in power,” she said. “There are a lot of black women now sitting behind the desks in the corner offices.” From Shonda Rhimes, to BET’s Debra Lee, to MSNBC’s Yvette Miley, to screenwriter and producer Mara Brock-Akil, Ogunnaike points to a plethora of black women who are building careers that open doors for others as well.

“These women wield phenomenal influence and power, and they’re using it to change the way we see black women,” she told MN Business.

Ogunnaike credits the black women that she’s met along the way for inspiring and motivating her. “These relationships have been invaluable to me both personally and professionally,” she said.

It’s just those sorts of relationships that will be the focus of the “Salute Her” event. If you’re in the area and want to check it out, click here to purchase your ticket.

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