Meleah Lyden Awarded Molly Turner Broadcast Scholarship
SPJ Florida and the family of the late Molly Turner are pleased to announce that this year’s scholarship has been awarded to Meleah Lyden of the University of Florida.
Founded in 2017, the scholarship works to support women in their broadcast journalism endeavors—while women dominate journalism classrooms in colleges, they only make up 44% of news staffers in radio and TV stations. They’re also more likely to work in the smallest markets. In Lyden’s essay, she shared her struggle to be taken seriously as she tackles stories for WUFT; in one case, a county commissioner accepted her request for an interview and handed her a lollipop afterward.
“I questioned if I could survive the industry or if I needed to be less feminine and change any perceivable soft characteristics I had. But I didn’t alter a thing,” she wrote. “Instead, I decided it was essential to take ownership of all of me — to be my most authentic self. And in this, I realized that my softer traits, such as my empathy, don’t make me a terrible journalist. It’s my strength.”
Lyle Landon, the daughter of Molly Turner, wrote the following in support of Lyden being chosen as this year’s scholarship winner:
“It is my pleasure to select Meleah Lyden as the 2021 recipient of the Molly Turner scholarship. It is always a difficult decision and it was fascinating to see that most of the candidates in 2021 referred to themselves as multi-media journalists. The current generation has both adapted to and led this change by creating content and media for a growing and more diverse audience with wider interests.
And still, Meleah was a standout. I appreciated that she was a writer, radio and podcast producer and host, as well as a video/TV reporter. However, it was her range that was exceptional – from hard news to feature assignments, from very short 90-second news briefs to longer pieces such as the award winning podcast series, Four Days, Five Murders. Frequently one does not get to ‘choose’ an assignment, rather one is ‘assigned.’ To be chosen for diverse topics across multiple formats is a strong acknowledgement of her considerable capabilities and talent by many different managers. Not to be overlooked was Meleah’s leadership, most recently as the Journalism and Communications Ambassador at the University of Florida, where I am sure she is being sought out as a mentor.
There is an adage, ‘telling is not selling,’ which applies to journalism too. Listen to the first sentence in Meleah’s application essay on how you hope to impact the newsroom and broadcast journalism as a woman. ‘Imagine being a baby-faced petite woman reporting in the field.’ Her first word – imagine – is a call to action, inviting the reader to be a partner in the experience of journalism…listen to the words and let them conjure up pictures…watch the pictures and let them create thoughts and feelings. I am confident that Meleah will continue to excel as a multi-media journalist and look forward to watching, listening and reading her stories. Just imagine!”