ISU welcomes USA TODAY reporter for Black History Month celebration

CATEGORIES: Events, In the News, News

By: Eliana Compton, freshman, journalism and mass communication

Jay Stahl, a writer for USA TODAY, joined the Iowa State community in Hamilton Hall on Tuesday for a Black History Month celebration hosted by Tony Moton, assistant teaching professor of journalism.

The event was sponsored by Greenlee’s new Student Media Leadership Team (SMLT), a group Moton started to bring student organizations together as one unit.

After food and trivia provided by SMLT, and a warm welcome from Moton and the audience, Stahl began the night by sharing an article covering the story of Iowa resident, Marcus Norris.

“He was shot in the head at 7 on Chicago’s South Side, and he came to Iowa to heal,” Stahl’s article began. The rest of his story covered Norris’ life, struggles and accomplishments, introducing the crowd to the depth of Stahl’s writing and research.

After the reading, Stahl explained that to write his articles, he will spend hours or even days with people, focusing on building trust rather than getting straight to the point with basic questions or short interviews.

“There’s a level of care he brings … we spent a lot of time together,” Chenue Her said later in the night, reflecting on his own experience with Stahl’s reporting. Her was featured in a story by Stahl in 2022, one year after starting his role as “America’s only Hmong anchorman.”

Stahl then discussed two additional stories and a series from his time at the Des Moines Register, one covering a Black artist in Des Moines who overcame addiction through art, and the second covering five Black comedians in Iowa and the struggles and joys they face in their line of work. The series he wrote was on Iowa’s social media influencers, Stahl sharing his shock at the attention the series received compared to other articles he had written.

Students, professionals and faculty gathered for a question-and-answer segment with Jay Stahl and Tony Moton at Greenlee’s Black History Month celebration.

After transitioning to a question-and-answer segment involving the audience, Stahl spoke on his ability to remove any bias from his writing, despite any friendships he builds throughout the interview process. “I am able to remove myself from the situation, I am there to share [the story].”

Stahl gave more advice for the young writers or journalists in the room, assuring them that “no story is too small” and “if there’s something you want to chase, chase it.”

He also shared his own story of being a young journalist, where he started his post-graduation career in Wisconsin with two jobs, one in print media and the other in broadcast television. After moving to Des Moines, Stahl joined the Des Moines Register as an entertainment reporter. More recently, he transitioned to USA TODAY, holding the same position in entertainment reporting.