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january 18, 2017 - General Motors

GM Hosts Discover Your Drive Diversity Journalism Program at NAIAS

General Motors launched its second annual Discover Your Drive diversity journalism program Jan. 7-11, hosting 13 college students and nine journalists from across the country at Detroit’s North American International #auto Show. Students from diverse backgrounds participated in the program, which promotes diversity in #automotive journalism and news coverage.

Discover Your Drive began Saturday and concluded Wednesday with an awards presentation recognizing students for their work at #naias as well as their social media presence during a scavenger hunt through #detroit. Students used the new, award-winning all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV, named 2017’s #naias Car of Year, and OnStar technology to find their way around the city. They posted about their adventures on Twitter tagging @GM_Diversity using the hashtag DiscoverYourDrive.

“We were blown away by the talent and creativity of these fearless students,” says Leslie Gordon, senior manager, #gm Diversity Communications. “Many of them had not been exposed to #automotive journalism, had never been to #detroit or seen snow. But they brought with them the right amount of curiosity required to cover an #event as massive and complex as the North American International #auto Show and they did so with grit and class.”

One student demonstrated that drive by chasing a face-to-face interview with #gm Chairman and CEO Mary Barra on the #auto show floor. Another coaxed #gm North America President Alan Batey into a video that won the program’s top prize: an all-expense paid trip to a national journalism conference.

Students Rushawn Walters and Nia Muhammad, both of Howard University, and Sarah Rahal, of Wayne State University, won the prize with “Jammin’ with #gm,” a video story told through carpool karaoke, focusing on the all-new Chevrolet Cruze and technologies such as Apple Car Play, Android #auto, Teen Driver, Rear Seat Reminder and the car’s fuel economy.

“As an aspiring student journalist from #detroit, getting the opportunity to learn more about what’s in my backyard was a priceless gift,” said Rahal. “This program gave me a network of people that are proficient in the industry and the knowledge to use it in the field. Discover Your Drive allowed me to believe that #automotive news is a possibility for my future.”

The students took part in a journalism workshop led by Ray Suarez, former host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. They also heard a panel on the state of diversity in newsrooms. The panel, moderated by award-winning journalist Ed Gordon, featured fashion critic Michael Quintanilla, formerly of the Los Angeles Times and San Antonio Express News; political journalist Patricia Guadalupe, a contributing writer to NBC Latino; Walter Middlebrook, #detroit News assistant managing editor; and Salvador Rodriguez, Inc. magazine’s tech reporter.

Students attended news conferences and vehicle reveals, explored the #auto show floor and interviewed #auto experts. The professional journalists mentored the students and helped them produce news stories and presentations. The program ended with an awards ceremony at the #gm Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

“As a diversity and business reporter, it’s really great to see #gm put its money and weight behind discovering and helping young journalists of diverse backgrounds get started with their careers,” said Inc.’s Rodriguez, also a mentor.

Quintanilla, a returning mentor whose team won last year, says news organizations need to take note.

“This is the most original experience for college students that encourages them to consider #automotive journalism while also promoting diversity in newsrooms,” he said. “By diverse, I mean not only diversity in one’s ethnicity but also in ideas and a promise from everyone involved to protect and uphold journalism’s existence and the profession’s commitment to tell accurate and honest stories.”

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