Byron Wilkes

Currently I'm studying documentary film at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. I'm co-producing my documentary thesis with Adam Grossberg. The movie concerns the city of Stockton, the largest city in the US to file for bankruptcy and one that is emblematic of many US problems since the world recession.

Upon graduating, I'll be participating in the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics. After that fellowship is over, I'll be staying in Europe to travel to West Africa for an environmental story about the detrimental effects of private fishing not only to oceanic ecosystems but to the livelihoods of West Africans who rely on artisanal fishing for work and food.

Education:

University of California, Berkeley
September 2011 - March 2013
Currently I'm in the process of obtaining my MJ at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Middle Tennessee State University
January 2008 - December 2009
I received my bachelor of science degree in mass communication with an emphasis on newspaper and magazine journalism, and minors in film, speech and theatre.
Mississippi State University
August 2005 - December 2007
I attended MSU two years before transferring to Middle Tennessee State University.

Published Stories:

You Can't Always Go Downtown
The Reykjavik Grapevine
A colleague and I worked on this piece, an investigative feature on wheelchair access in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland, and the realities for Icelandic wheelchair users.
Changing California's prison population
Richmond Confidential
As California's AB 109 went into effect Oct. 1, 2011, I researched how Contra Costa County is preparing to cope financially and logistically with the cumulative shift in county jail populations. This piece is part of Richmond Confidential's ongoing coverage of realignment.
Richmond shooting victim recalls home invasion
Richmond Confidential
In this article, I sat down with a shooting and home invasion victim who lost his mother in the same incident.
Country's Queen
Jackson Free Press
I wrote this review for the Jackson Free Press (based out of Jackson, Miss.) in late 2010, one of several reviews and columns I wrote while freelancing with this publication.
Homeless
The Meridian Star
This piece is an investigative look at the issue of homelessness in Meridian, Miss.
Rapper Educates Against Hate
Sidelines
This is a profile I did on spoken-word rapper Harvey Katz, who advocates LGBTQ issues throughout the United States.

Awards:

Fellowship at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (March 2013)
"FASPE Journalism is a program for graduate students working towards careers in journalism. It is an intensive two-week fellowship that examines the roles played by journalists in Nazi Germany and during the Holocaust, which underscores how the moral codes that govern the journalism profession can break down or be distorted. The program’s integrated approach includes historical, cultural, philosophical, and documentary sources; survivor testimony; visits to German and Polish newsrooms; and on-site workshops in Berlin and Auschwitz." -From the website (http://faspe.info/pr_journalism.html)
Best Feature Writer - Third Place - Southeastern Journalism Conference (October 2010)
Awarded for various features written while working as editor at Middle Tennessee State University's semiweekly newspaper, Sidelines.
Christopher Nathan Bell Memorial Scholarship  (August 2009)
Given at Middle Tennessee State University to students in newspaper/magazine major who show promise as an editor.
Herman Eskew Editing Award (August 2009)
Given at Middle Tennessee State University to students who show promise as an editor in the newspaper medium.

Work Experience:

Graduate Student Instructor
University of California, Berkeley  - Berkeley CA  ( August 2012 -  )
I teach roughly 50 students in media studies and visual communication under UC Berkeley's Media Studies Department.
Reporter
The Meridian Star  - Meridian MS  ( December 2009 - March 2011 )
While reporting in Meridian (starting two days after graduation), I covered crime, education and homelessness, as well as spot news. I also wrote several features and investigative pieces that required fostering long-term community contacts and following up coverage months after stories were printed. Another part of my job was utilizing social media to engage the paper's audience; during my tenure, the newspaper's Facebook fans swelled to one of the highest in the state for media outlets.
Freelancer
Jackson Free Press  - Jackson MS  ( August 2009 - June 2011 )
I freelanced for the Jackson Free Press since I finished an internship until I moved to Berkeley to attend graduate school. During this time I wrote mostly columns and book reviews.
Intern
Jackson Free Press  - Jackson MS  ( May 2009 - August 2009 )
Working at the Jackson Free Press, I wrote music, book and other arts and entertainments reviews, as well as in-depth research on community issues. I also worked with the Youth Media Literacy Project, an initiative started by the JFP to collaborate with Jackson, Miss., high school students in promoting media production on issues pertinent to them. I also did copy editing and design editing for the publication leading up to run days.
Editor in chief
Sidelines  - Murfreesboro TN  ( May 2008 - December 2010 )
During my last semester at Middle Tennessee State University, I acted as editor in chief of the twice-weekly student newspaper, Sidelines. I managed a staff of 50 employees, including reporters, editors, photographers, videographers and web designers. Before editor in chief, I was reporter, community news editor (during which time I initiated the poverty beat) and opinions editor.

Skills:

  • I have experience with InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and a few other programs.