MOUNT CLEMENS — When Bath City Beat reporter Jamecia Webster learned of a story assignment that was up for grabs last year, she didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance to cover it.
Officials from Selfridge Air National Guard Base were planning to honor the four surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Webster immediately began researching the subject and the four individuals she was soon to meet.
“I thought the story behind the Tuskegee Airmen was very intriguing,” said Webster, a junior at Mount Clemens High School.
The Tuskegee Airmen were some of the first African Americans to serve in the country’s Air Force in World War II. They were given the name because they received their wings at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama.
Webster’s 4-minute news feature, which she also edited, has been seen on Mount Clemens cable access and can be viewed on YouTube. Last month, the piece was awarded first-place in the High School Television: News Feature/Magazine Program category of the 2013 Michigan High School and College Broadcast Awards competition, presented by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.
Bath City Beat and Macomb Cable Network senior producer Patrick Linabury said he entered Webster’s story into the contest because he felt the subject would be of interest to a wide range of audiences.
“What makes it special is that it appeals to so many people on so many levels,” he said. “It’s history, it’s African-American history, and it’s the military. And it’s put together quite well.”
Webster interviewed the four Tuskegee Airmen, Col. Charles McGraw, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, Lt. Col. Washington Ross and Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, asking each why he wanted to become a pilot and what he remembers most about that period of his life.
“I really liked interviewing them,” said Webster, who has been a Bath City Beat reporter for a year and a half. “They were very friendly. I think I learned a lot, including that there wasn’t a lot of action; they said it would get boring at times.
“They were all very smart for their ages and explained their experiences in the war so clearly and detailed. They had nothing but good things to say.”
After the interviews and filming were completed, it took Webster about four days to complete the video for school.
Linabury encourages more community feature-type of news stories, rather than just the typical high school news subjects, such as peer pressure and eating disorders.
He said the school’s broadcasting programs is about “students reporting the news.”
This is the third time a Bath City Beat reporter has placed in the top three in Michigan in the News Feature/Magazine Program category, Linabury said. Michelle Alwardt received an Honorable Mention in 2010 for her story about the Macomb County Clothing Swap, and Nancy Berggren received an Honorable Mention in 2011 for her story on the downtown Mount Clemens way-finding system.
Webster signed up for her school’s broadcasting program at the urging of a teacher and said she quickly became hooked. “I liked learning about all that’s involved in putting together a television news story, like the editing and how to work the cameras.”
She said she hopes to become a nurse, but said she will likely minor in broadcasting in college.
As for the news of the award, Webster, who is currently getting ready to film a feature story about the Macomb County Animal Shelter, said she was “Amazed. I couldn’t believe it!” She will be attending the MAB awards ceremony at Lansing Community College March 13.
Also being recognized at next month’s ceremony are L’Anse Creuse High School students Adam Abraham and Brad Tunney, who received an Honorable Mention in the Sports Play-by-Play category.