PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NABJ
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 21, 2019) – During its 44th annual Convention and Career Fair held in Miami this August, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will honor veteran journalist and community advocate Mel Showers with the 2019 Journalist of Distinction Award.
Retiring this week, after 50 years on-air with WKRG News 5 in Mobile, Alabama, Showers is considered “the” broadcast veteran of his market. As a result of his tenure and impactful storytelling, he was inducted into the prestigious Alabama Broadcasters Hall of Fame and is a past winner of the Mobile Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award.
Showers is celebrated for breaking down barriers for journalists of color in his region, as he is the first black, full-time anchor to appear on WKRG. Although some in the community did not initially welcome the station’s first black evening news anchor with open arms, his endearing smile, passionate reporting and engagement with the community allowed him to turn hate mail into fan mail, according to the Alabama Broadcasters Association. Today, he is beloved by viewers across the Gulf Coast.
“NABJ is proud to salute Mel Showers for the extraordinary example of perseverance and dedication to excellence that he has been to his community and to journalists of color everywhere,” said Sarah Glover, NABJ President. “Mel’s work ethic and accomplishments span more than half a century in journalism. We look forward to celebrating his contributions and barrier-breaking career this summer.”
While Showers has covered many beats for his long-time station, including the courts, local police and government, the Alabama Legislature and county government, he has also witnessed and reported on some of the most devastating issues facing the South.
In June of 1997, he witnessed the execution of a Ku Klux Klan member who brutally killed a 19-year-old, African-American young man. Almost a decade later, he would witness the destruction of a community while reporting on air for 24 hours a day for nine straight days during Hurricane Katrina.
“His impact on the Mobile-Pensacola TV market and the state of Alabama cannot be underestimated,” said Jesse Grear, Vice President and General Manager of WKRG. “Mel cemented his place in local broadcasting history, overcoming initial bigotry through quiet grace and utmost professionalism. He was a voice of calm during turbulent times and remains an example for all journalists to follow.”
Showers is a Mobile native and a military veteran, including serving as a Military Intelligence Analyst in the Far East, Middle East and additional posts worldwide.
“I am truly and deeply honored to be recognized by NABJ,” said Showers. “It is one of the biggest highlights of my career. I am humbled and grateful for this recognition of my five decades of broadcasting. I look forward to seeing and greeting the members of NABJ later this summer.”
NABJ’s Journalist of Distinction Award is bestowed upon black journalists working in an
under 16 broadcast market or under 150,000 print/digital circulation publication who have distinguished themselves with a body of work or contribution to the field of journalism that was extraordinary in-depth, scope or significance to people in the African Diaspora.
Showers will be honored during the 2019 NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards at the 2019 NABJ Convention, which takes place the evening of Saturday, Aug. 10 at the JW
Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, located at 19999 W. Country Club Drive in Aventura, Florida.
Event ticket information and additional details about the NABJ Convention can be found here.
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is an organization of journalists, students and media-related professionals that provides quality programs and services to and advocates on behalf of black journalists worldwide. Founded by 44 men and women on December 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation. For more information, please visit www.nabj.org.