Siouxland Public Media, Iowa State Daily journalists to receive Greenlee School and Kappa Tau Alpha Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Collage photo of two women. Emily Blobaum, on left, and Ally Karsyn, on right.
The 2018 Greenlee School and Kappa Tau Alpha Diversity & Inclusion Award Recipients: Emily Blobaum, senior in journalism and mass communication (left) and Ally Karsyn of Siouxland Public Media (right)

AMES, Iowa – Two Iowa journalists will be honored for their work that highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion during the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication’s annual First Amendment Days celebration in April.

The 2018 Greenlee School and Kappa Tau Alpha Diversity & Inclusion Awards will be presented to Emily Blobaum, senior in journalism and mass communication, and Ally Karsyn, Siouxland Public Media arts producer and announcer, on April 13 at 9 a.m. in 169 Hamilton Hall on the Iowa State University campus.

Established in 2017, the awards are presented annually to recognize a professional journalist and a Greenlee student for their excellence in journalism and promotion of a just and inclusive society through ethical storytelling that broadens people’s understanding of diverse lives and communities.

This year’s honorees were selected by the Greenlee Diversity Subcommittee, members of Iowa State’s Kappa Tau Alpha chapter and the First Amendment Committee.

"Unfortunately, we see far too many bad examples of stereotyping or news coverage that lacks sensitivity or awareness around issues related to ethnicity, the LGBTQ community, religion and gender," said Assistant Professor Tracy Lucht, Greenlee Diversity Subcommittee chair and adviser of the Michael Bugeja Chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha at Iowa State University. "We wanted to draw attention to the importance of inclusive journalism by celebrating good examples."

Karsyn is the founder, producer and host of Ode, a storytelling project that allows Sioux City, Iowa, community members to share their first-person essays, which often pertain to identity, live on stage. The events are recorded for broadcast on Siouxland Public Media, an NPR member station.

Being selected for the award, Karsyn said, is affirmation for the work that she continues to do in her community.

"Ode creates a catalyst for conversations," Karsyn said. "It fosters empathy, builds community and empowers people to tell their own stories when they feel like they have nowhere else to be seen and heard."

Diversity and inclusivity topics have played a key role in Blobaum’s time with the Iowa State Daily Media Group. Blobaum currently serves as the managing editor of content and a photojournalist. She also writes features about students with disabilities for the student news organization. Her work sharing stories of students who are living with disabilities and coverage of people affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) exemplify the spirit of the award, Lucht said.

"Diversity is something that I am very passionate about, not only with diversity and race and ethnicities, but also with areas that are overlooked," Blobaum said. "It feels good that people see your work and all of the hard work that you’re putting into it."

Both honorees will also share background about their work during the ceremony. After the ceremony, Karsyn will also lead an artmaking session in which participants will explore free expression and the meaning of belonging at 10 a.m. in 172 Hamilton Hall.

The awards are presented during the annual First Amendment Days celebration.

"Emily and Ally’s outstanding work exemplifies freedom of the press in action. By recognizing the important contributions of journalists to society and taking time to celebrate all five freedoms, we remember why the First Amendment matters," said Julie Roosa, adjunct assistant professor and First Amendment specialist at the Greenlee School.

Now in its 16th year, First Amendment Days celebrates the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. It’s organized by Greenlee’s First Amendment Committee, which is made up of members of the Greenlee School, Iowa State Daily Media Group and the Leo Mores Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. This year, the celebration will take place April 11-13 with a variety of events open to the Iowa State community and the public.

The Michael Bugeja Chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha at Iowa State University is an honor society for students studying journalism and mass communication, public relations, and advertising. Iowa State’s chapter was founded in 1986. Last year, the chapter presented its diversity and inclusion awards to Courtney Crowder of the Des Moines Register and Jaden Urbi (’17 journalism and mass communication).