Rochelle Riley was the third in a series of Start Here / Never Stop Podcast episodes.
Riley was born in Tarboro, N.C., and earned her journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was named the 2010 Harvey Beech Outstanding Alumna. She was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, housed at Michigan State University, on April 17, 2016.
Riley formerly worked at The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post and the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, where her 1996 debut column — which called for a museum honoring Louisville native Muhammad Ali — helped spur an $80 million campaign to build the Muhammad Ali Center, which opened in 2005. Riley is currently an award-winning columnist an the Detroit Free Press.
She writes passionately about government responsibility, education, popular culture, politics and race, and has spent 15 years raising awareness about the need to improve adult literacy. She has helped raise more than $1 million for Michigan literacy causes.
Riley earned the 2013 National Headliner Award for best column; the inaugural Will Rogers Humanitarian Award for community service from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists; and multiple first-place writing honors, including from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Michigan Press Association and APME. Last year, readers of Michigan’s Hour Detroit magazine named her Detroit’s best female columnist for the sixth year in a row. And her columns about former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were part of the entry that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting.
Riley, a strong advocate for press freedom around the world, is co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Global Journalism Task Force and a board member of the North American Committee of the International Press Institute. Her mission is to ensure that global news is offered by every newspaper and television station, no matter how small. The NABJ task force is also working to increase the number of foreign correspondents of color. Riley — who makes frequent television and radio appearances on NPR, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and local stations in Detroit — was also a 2007-08 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she studied online communications and film.
Check out more Start Here / Never Stop Podcast episodes at mj.unc.edu/SHNSpodcast.