Foreign correspondent Jacqueline Charles ’94 to deliver MJ-school’s Spring 2019 Commencement address
The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles ’94 will speak to graduates of the UNC School of Media and Journalism on Saturday, May 11, at 3:30 p.m. in Carmichael Arena. Charles is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Emmy-award winning Caribbean Correspondent at the Herald, a McClatchy-owned paper which circulates in greater Miami and is read throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Journalism today is changing,” Charles noted recently. “Today I am not just a reporter, but I am a multimedia journalist. I write, report, take photos and make videos. Ours is a business that is changing but surviving, despite constantly being under attack. I intend to not only change with the times, but to continue to do what I do, which is to report on the facts, the people and the culture of the Caribbean, and Haiti in particular.”
Charles has reported full time on the Caribbean for the Herald since 2006.
Charles was born in the English-speaking Turks and Caicos to a Haitian mother and raised by her mother and her Cuban-American stepfather, spending part of her childhood in Miami's Overtown neighborhood. She began her journalism career with the Herald as a 14-year-old intern, and returned to the paper as a full-time journalist after graduating from Carolina in 1994 with her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication. She covers Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean.
In 2008, she was singled out as the International Reporter of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) for her reporting on four back-to-back storms and hurricanes that hit Haiti within 30 days followed by a school collapse and a children malnutrition crisis. Three years later, the NABJ named her Journalist of the Year, describing her as a local reporter who is having an international impact for her coverage of Haiti in the aftermath of its devastating 2010 earthquake, for which she was also recognized as a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Her reporting assignments have taken her throughout the Caribbean — including Cuba — as well as Liberia, Italy, Kenya, and most recently Mexico, Canada and Chile to report on the plight of Haitian migrants. Charles’ 2016 project on the dangerous 7,000-mile trek through 11 Latin American countries many Haitians embarked on from Brazil to reach the United States via the U.S.-Mexico border was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the French-American Foundation. She recently received the prestigious Columbia Journalism School’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest award in international journalism, for her Caribbean coverage — of Haiti in particular — and for fostering a greater understanding of this part of the globe.
Comfortable in front of the camera and nimble enough to work behind it, she has been featured on National Public Radio; the British Broadcasting Corporation; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; MSNBC; Al Jazeera; and the South Florida Sunday morning public affairs shows — "This Week in South Florida" with Michael Putney and "Facing South Florida” with Jim Defede on CBS4, among others.
No stranger to Chapel Hill since her 1994 graduation, Charles received a Distinguished Alumna Award from UNC in 2015 for her journalistic achievements. She also currently serves on the MJ-school’s Board of Advisers. Charles remembers the impact visiting journalists had on her as a student at the school, and how she’d dream of a future journalism career and the opportunity to be invited back to share what she’d learned with students on campus. She’s delighted to speak to MJ-school students this May.
“It's a chance for me to give back to a school that has given me so much,” she shared. “I had great professors who continued to encourage me even after I graduated. The J-School also gave me a solid reporting and writing foundation while Carolina, overall, gave me four of the best years of my life."
"Carolina is not only where I honed my skills as a reporter," Charles added, "but it's where I learned the power of activism through my involvement with the Black Student Movement and the Carolina Association of Black Journalists. Through my roles as editor of the Black Ink student news magazine and a member of The Daily Tar Heel's editorial board I learned early on that I can indeed change things.”
For more information on the University’s Spring Commencement, visit commencement.unc.edu