Alumni News

FAMU SJGC alum, Washington Post Reporter Michael Lee Wins Murrow Award 

SJGC Staff
SJGC Staff

Florida A&M University graduates continue thriving long after their time on “The Hill.” Michael Lee, a 1998 graduate of FAMU’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication newspaper journalism program (FAMU SJGC), was recently recognized for his work with The Washington Post as an integral part of producing one their latest award winning projects.  

Lee, who currently works as a sports enterprise reporter with The Washington Post, was honored with the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for his role in the production of “The Ones Who Made It.” The documentary captured the stories of 26 Black men who became head football coaches in the NFL. Lee, along with Washington Post Senior Producer Jayne Orenstein, held on-camera interviews with 16 of the coaches to take a deeper dive into their careers experiences.

“For me, it was a great thing because I’m a print guy and I have been my whole life,” Lee says. “So to get recognized in another lane is pretty significant and pretty exciting.” 

Through their reporting, they found Black coaches were unable to convert their interim positions to full time head coaching positions at the same rate as their white counterparts. Their investigative journalism allowed for a deeper dive into the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which was established to implement diversifying changes within careers in the league.  

“I really thought it would be a grieving session where coaches would complain about racism in the NFL and how they were denied opportunities,” Lee said. “But really it became a celebration of these men who were able to break through in a place where not many have.” 

Lee and his colleagues at the Washington Post, earned the award for the Sports, Health and Wellness under the Large Newsroom category for the Online Journalism Awards. This film beat three more finalists for the winning title in 2023. 

Although the newspaper journalism major no longer exists at FAMU, the skills Lee developed in SJGC prepared him to lead a successful career in news broadcasting, specializing in sports journalism.  

Lee has worked at several media outlets like The Atlanta Journalism Constitution, The Washington Post as a Washington Wizards beat writer, and Yahoo Sports before again making his way back to The Washington Post. Now, in his current position he writes about the intersection between race and sports.

He attended the Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala on Oct. 9, 2023 at Gotham Hall in New York City, where he accepted the award. His accolades provide inspiration for current and future Florida A&M journalism students with aspirations of pursuing similar paths.  

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