ESPN’s Jemele Hill Awarded NABJ ‘Journalist of the Year’

Jemele Hill
Getty Images/Mpu Dinani

Jemele Hill, one of ESPN’s loudest anti-Trump voices, has been awarded the 2018 “Journalist of the Year” award by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

The NABJ award was announced in a May 18 press release where Hill was praised for having a “distinguished body of work with extraordinary depth, scope and significance to the people of the African Diaspora:”

“Known for her provocative commentary on what’s happening in sports and in the news, Hill is a senior correspondent and columnist for ESPN’s The Undefeated,” the announcement said. “She uses her platform to address national, social and cultural issues, in addition to sports. Hill nearly broke the internet last year when she criticized President Donald Trump. She also, taking up the NABJ spirit of advocacy, addressed athletes’ rights to take a knee to protest police brutality. She did all this while co-anchoring a groundbreaking rebrand of ESPN’s marquee show SportsCenter, or SC6, along with fellow NABJ member Michael Smith.”

The former SportsCenter host has made a name for herself as a virulent Trump critic on ESPN.

“This is the biggest accomplishment of my career,” Hill said in the announcement.

“It would be a serious understatement to call this recognition from NABJ special. This organization has been a second family for me, both personally and professionally,” Hill added. “I am humbled to be honored by an organization whose values not only match my own journalistically but has tirelessly dedicated itself to developing and nurturing journalists like me.”

“Jemele Hill is a gem. She exhibits strength, grace, and doggedness,” NABJ President Sarah Glover said. “NABJ appreciates the courage and steadfastness Jemele has demonstrated as a journalist and commentator speaking truth to power.”

Hill’s profile in sports media exploded after she began posting one vicious attack after another against Republicans and President Donald Trump. In one tweet, for instance, Hill called Trump a “white supremacist.” She was later reprimanded for the comment — but not suspended — by ESPN’s bosses for violating the network’s social media policy.

Despite being reprimanded for her attacks, Hill has repeatedly said she stands by her accusation and has said she has no regrets over her behavior.

Still, despite the warnings from bosses, Hill was later suspended for using social media to try and instruct fans on how to boycott the Dallas Cowboys.

By April, both Hill and Michael Smith were no longer serving as anchors of SportsCenter. Only weeks later, after the pair were gone, the show saw a big jump in ratings.

On the heels of the ratings jump, ESPN announced that Sage Steele would replace Hill on the 6 PM broadcast of a re-tooled SportsCenter. The choice of Steele is interesting because she appears to have the complete opposite opinion on politics to Hill’s.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.