2019 Griot Drum Honorees

ERICA RIGGINS Spectrum Bay News 9

Erica Riggins is an award winning journalist and morning anchor on Spectrum Bay News 9, Tampa Bay’s only 24 hour news channel. 

A Texas native, Erica’s broadcasting career had an unusual beginning. Graduating as a mechanical engineering from the University of Texas, Erica put her degree to work as an equipment engineer for a telecom company. Over the next several years as she grew within the company, Erica realized that she wanted to be a part of something bigger and to make a difference in her community. This set Erica on a new career path. She returned to school to study communications and television journalism. 

Erica began her career as a journalist in Sherman, Texas as a weekend anchor and reporter at KXII-TV. From there, she returned to her hometown to report for the 24-hour local news channel News 8 Austin, now Spectrum News, and later anchored the evening news. 

Always looking for new challenges, Erica moved to the Tampa Bay area to serve as weekend morning anchor for Spectrum Bay News 9. Now, Tampa Bay viewers wake up to her weekday mornings on Your Morning News. 

Recognized for her exceptional achievements, Erica won an Emmy award for Outstanding Live Report for her story on students protesting the Iraq war. She also won the prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary in regards to a series of reports focusing on the growing and disturbing trends of child abuse. Other awards and honors that Erica has garnered includes: the Pinellas County Urban League’s President’s Award, the Outstanding Community Service Award from the Teamster’s National Black Caucus, and Outstanding Service in the Field of Communications from the national sorority of Phi Delta Kappa. But, perhaps the award that Erica Riggins is most proud of is the community service award named in her honor from Men in the Making.

Sherri Day Tampa Bay Times

Sherri Day was named Communications and Grants Director in 2016. Her responsibilities include: public relations, newsroom marketing, internal, executive and crisis communications. Sherri also oversees grants administered by the Tampa Bay Times Fund, Inc. and was appointed to the company’s board of directors earlier this year. 

Sherri joined the Tampa Bay Times as a reporter in 2004. Based in Tampa, she covered South and Central Tampa for City Times. She later became the paper’s metropolitan religion reporter and was named Brandon bureau chief in 2009. She became an assistant metro editor in Tampa in 2011 and was responsible for overseeing coverage of law enforcement, courts and breaking news. Sherri joined the editorial board in 2013. Prior to coming to work for the Times, Sherri spent four years reporting at the New York Times, where she started as a summer intern. 

In 1998, Sherri graduated magna cum laude from Clark Atlanta University with a degree in mass media arts/journalism. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. 

Sherri is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service sorority; the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists and the Bible-Based Fellowship Church in Carrollwood. 

She is married to Marcus Phillips. They live in Tampa and have three children.

Kelly McBride The Poynter Institute

Kelly McBride is a journalist, a teacher and an ethics adviser to newsrooms around the world. She’s the senior vice president at The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism think tank and training center in St. Petersburg, Fla. Poynter’s mission is to elevate journalism in service of democracy. Kelly also serves as the chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Leadership at Poynter. Before coming to Poynter, Kelly was an accomplished local news reporter, specializing in religion and crime. Kelly is a featured analyst on the Everyday Ethics podcast. She is the co-author of “The New Ethics of Journalism,” a book published in 2014 and experiencing a recent renaissance as economic and technological forces continue to fundamentally alter the media landscape.

Deiah Riley ABC Action News

Deiah Riley’s an award-winning journalist on ABC Action News. 

Born and raised in the Florida Panhandle, she graduated from Bethune Cookman College and followed her journalism career to Montgomery, Mobile, Phoenix, Atlanta and Tampa. 

For 15 years, Deiah has been waking up the Tampa Bay area as the anchor of Good Morning Tampa Bay, Monday through Friday from 4:30am to 10am. 

Deiah has been recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – Suncoast Chapter – which covers 19 television markets in the Southeastern U.S. — winning multiple Emmy awards for her anchoring and reporting. 

She’s covered some of the biggest events in Tampa Bay from hurricanes to the Super Bowl. 

For 10 years, Deiah has been a part of the award winning, “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” campaign. This campaign is committed to raising awareness of domestic violence and dating abuse. 

In 2017, Deiah was recognized by Tampa Magazine as a “Leading Person of Tampa Bay”. 

Deiah is active in her community. She is a founding member of the board of directors for Gulfside Hospice and Palliative Care. 

In addition to her work, Deiah is devoted to her family and her faith. She and her husband, Dave, have two daughters – Riley and Ryan.

Lyn Johnson The Weekly Challenger

A native of St. Petersburg, Johnson grew up with news in her blood. Her father, Cleveland Johnson, Jr., founded The Weekly Challenger newspaper in 1967. Being technically minded, she decided to attend a television video production course at Pinellas Technical College. After graduating, she worked for WTOG Channel 44, WTSP Channel 10 and WFLA Channel 8 in their production departments. 

While employed at Channel 8, Johnson enrolled at Eckerd College and received a bachelor’s degree in history, where she obtained the writing skills that helped her become the publishing editor of The Weekly Challenger in 2012. 

Since then, Johnson has redesigned the paper and brought readership up by focusing strictly on community news, adding national news only to the website. 

“If you want national news, turn on your computer or television,” said Johnson, “but if you want to read news about what’s going on outside your front door, then pick up a Challenger.” 

Continuing her plan to bring the Challenger into the digital age, Johnson aims to strengthen its online presence by adding more interactive features and is in the process of creating video news stories to accompany the stories in print. 

She has received a number of awards, including the Community Service Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the National Council of Negro Women, the Legacy Business Award from the Black Heritage Festival and the Journalism & Communication Award from the Gathering of Women, Inc. 

Married with one child, Johnson is currently the secretary of the Black Press Association of Florida, Inc.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.