By Charlotte Bachelor, JSHOP Reporter
At 6 years old, Doni Holloway knew he wanted to be a journalist. After all, he was already serving as editor for his family’s newsletter “Harambee.”
But, not even Holloway himself would imagine at 20, he would be honored as the National Association of Black Journalist Student Journalist of the Year.
Holloway, a Laingsburg, North Carolina native and early graduate from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill an has reached high levels of success early in his career.
Despite his age, Holloway already has a impressive resume. He has interned at Bloomberg and NBC. He started his own social-media-based newscast “Carolina Now” which he considers to be his greatest achievement to date.
“‘Carolina Now’ was I dream I had. I wanted to design it so the show went where the people are,” he said.
Even though he is a self-starter, Holloway acknowledges the importance of collaborating with others to create something great.
“If you have an idea, go ahead and get the people together, if you’re interested in something, chances are you’re not the only one,” he said.
Holloway attended his first journalism convention when he was in high school and joined NABJ. Holloway calls the organization “incredible” and believes the resources and mentors made available to students are invaluable.
“They (mentors) were all coming to meet us, it made me think, I really wanted to come back. They’re taking their vacation time to help you grow,” said Holloway.
Holloway’s early success has not come without struggle, especially transitioning from his small high school to UNC’s sprawling campus, which houses nearly 30,000 students. Near the end of his college career, Holloway’s grandmother died which made him rethink his decision for the time being.
“I was a caregiver for her. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever faced,” said Holloway who considered taking a break from school. “I thought, ‘I’m too close to the finish line to stop now.’”
Following this tragedy, Holloway ended up making the dean’s list that semester and received an academic achievement award.
Holloway’s challenging time taught him a valuable lesson.
“When things are the roughest, that’s when things turned out the best,” he said. Holloway was nominated for the NABJ award by his longtime mentor, Dr. Trevy McDonald, associate professor of media and journalism at UNC.
McDonald was introduced to Holloway in 2014, when she received a Facebook friend request and from that she realized there was something special about Holloway.
She then soon received an inbox from him and learned he wanted to be a journalist and wanted to attend UNC Chapel Hill. Holloway even sent her a link to his YouTube channel where he had interviewed several prominent figures. She was impressed with the assertiveness he showed, especially for a 17-year-old.
“I can say by far he’s the most passionate (student) I’ve encountered. Doni doesn’t wait to be given an opportunity, he creates the opportunity,” said McDonald who has been teaching for over 20 years.
One example she recalled was early 2016 when Holloway told McDonald he was going to Washington D.C. to cover the inauguration of President Donald Trump. While there he interviewed UNC students participating in the Women’s March.
“He applied a local angle to the story,” she said.
McDonald attributed Holloway’s success to not only his passion for journalism, but his spirit of gratitude.
“Doni is going to reach heights that aren’t even imaginable to him right now. He’s very thankful for all of the opportunities he’s had and for everything he’s experienced in his life thus far. My theory is, when you give thanks you get more,” said McDonald.
But to Holloway, the day he found out he won Student Journalist of the Year was just an average day.
“I was sitting in my room and I got a call from (NABJ) President Sarah Glover. I am completely humbled and grateful to win this award. It inspired me to go forward and pay it forward,” said Holloway.
Holloway shared his five pieces of advice for aspiring young journalists.
- Seek to be interested, rather than interesting
- Actively listen
- Ask questions
- The power of being persistence/tenacious: “You don’t need 27 people to believe in you just one”
- Be balanced and have fun.
Winning this award also affirmed the importance of organizations like NABJ for him, because it shines a light on work black journalists do.
Even though he has gained success thus far, Holloway keeps looking ahead.
“I see myself growing a platform, being a multi-platform journalist and giving a voice to the voiceless, continuing to capture those voices,” he said.
Holloway most definitely has a bright future ahead of him. His unwavering tenacity and humble spirit will take him far.