By Zuri Cheathem
CBS 62/CW50 Intern

Welcome to the overview of my first time in New York City and my first Emma Bowen Foundation (EBF) Summer Conference. The Emma Bowen Foundation Fellows Program provides multi-year internships to students of color at media companies across the country. Being in the program for two years now has been an amazing experience and I can only look forward to what the future brings.

Arriving in New York City

Departing from Detroit, I was unaware of any other fellows attending the Emma Bowen Foundation Summer Conference. It wasn’t until I was seated in the plane that I noticed a familiar face. Someone I knew in middle school and shared mutual friends was another Emma Bowen Fellow. After talking with Isaiah Washington for awhile, I became much more comfortable knowing there was someone I knew spending the week in New York City with me. From landing at JFK airport to taking a shuttle to the college dorms at New York University would be a 2 hour and 30-minute trip. I was finally experiencing the NYC I’ve always wanted to visit. About an hour later would be the mixer with the Foundation where I got a chance to meet other fellows and board members, many who serve high level positions for their respective media companies. Building a bond with a group of fellows during the mixer would ultimately be my group of friends for the rest of the conference.

The Emma Bowen Foundation Meeting Mixer (credit: Emma Bowen Facebook)

Innovation of Media

One of the earliest days of the conference I woke up at 5:30am for the Hall of Fame Breakfast. This event honored two EBF Legends: Phylis Eagle-Oldson, former President of EBF; and Dennis Swanson, a retired TV executive and responsible for discovering Oprah. Networking over breakfast with some top executives can be overwhelming, but very beneficial to our experience. After the breakfast would be an Innovation of Media panel discussion with professionals working in technology. This panel provided insight about tech in the media industry while also giving exposure to what sometimes people forget is a major asset to the industry and the world. At the end of the day, in our free time we got on the subway heading to Times Square. It was such an amazing sight, filled with fun and entertainment.

EBF Detroit fellows: Zuri Cheathem, Christiana Ford, and Isaiah Washington at the Hall of Fame Breakfast. (credit: Zuri Cheathem)

Content of Media

This was the most impactful day for me because of the strong panel featuring moderator, Paula Williams Madison. The  discussion covered “Journalism in the Trump Era” which gave broad opinions and very engaged discussions about the impact of the media with emphasis on President Donald Trump’s “fake news.” We were also included on a conversation about evolving journalism and its future. The biggest part of this day was when Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” became our guest speaker. She gave her thoughts on the evolution of  journalism as well as the administration’s impact in the industry. Ending the day with a power networking event was a highlight of the conference. Meeting professionals from a range of media companies such as CBS, Comcast, and FOX gave us a chance to connect with some outstanding people who can take you to the next level.

Zuri Cheathem with Gayle King of CBS This Morning
(credit: Zuri Cheathem)

Final Hours in NYC

On the last day of the conference was a discussion on the business of the media, starting off with an EBF alumni panel who have careers in this area. The discussion included their experience in the Foundation as well as the time after graduating and beginning their careers. Following the alumni panel was the business executive panel from HBO, Comcast, and Hearst Television. Their discussion almost mirrored the alumni panel, but they gave us advice from a well-experience perspective. Many of the panelists have been working for 10+ years in the industry. They touched on subjects pertaining to race and gender and how they made their transitions to become the best in their careers. Drawing the conference to a close was our “Table Talks” with the EBF alumni where we had a more personal discussion about them and what they do. Following the “Table Talks” was the most anticipated event of all…the Boat Party! We all attended the boat party and dinner on the Hudson River, gazing upon incredible views of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Ending the conference in style with great food, music, people and memories was all that I expected from my first Emma Bowen Conference.

EBF Fellows on the Hudson River (credit: Zuri Cheathem)

Zuri Cheathem is a rising sophomore at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow intern and is majoring in Business Administration – Marketing.


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