IN GREAT HANDS

One of Florida’s most experienced Black journalists takes over as publisher of the Florida Courier, the state’s largest Black-owned media outlet.

TAMPA – Jenise Griffin, a Florida A&M University graduate with more than three decades of journalism experience at newspapers and magazines in Florida and Georgia, has accepted the position of publisher of both the Florida Courier and the Daytona Times, effective immediately.

She succeeds Charles W. Cherry II, who served as the Florida Courier’s publisher since its launch as a statewide newspaper in 2006. Cherry II became publisher of the Daytona Times upon the death of both newspapers’ founder, Charles W. Cherry, Sr., in 2004.

“I’ve worked side-by-side with Jenise for more than 15 years,” Cherry II said. “She’s a fabulous writer with her finger on the pulse of the statewide community of Black Floridians. She’s a ‘details person’ who works hard every week to make sure that both the Florida Courier and the Daytona Times are superior newspaper products.

“Even in this tough media environment, she’ll easily surpass anything I’ve been able to do with both newspapers, and she’ll do it in a way that reflects her personality. The company won’t miss a beat with her at the helm.”

Looking forward

“As we face these challenging times in our country, it is important that the Black Press continue its important work of informing and educating people of color about the significant health, economic as well as political issues of the day,” she said.

“Therefore, I am honored that the Cherry family has entrusted me with this position at such a time as this. I am look forward to carrying on the vision of Mr. Cherry Sr. and making sure that the Black voice is heard and understood.

“Our readers can expect a more robust digital presence and some dynamic special projects that are already in the  works. The staff members at the Daytona Times and the Florida Courier have produced some great, award-winning work and we will continue to shine as the state’s largest Black-owned media company.”

In 2011, Jenise Griffin, right, interviewed then-Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll about topics of importance to Black Floridians, including education, criminal justice, and small business development.
FILE PHOTO

Started in Daytona

Griffin becomes the first person not named “Cherry” to head both newspapers, and the first Black woman – just the latest of a number of “firsts” she has blazed in her lengthy career.

Before becoming publisher, Griffin was the senior editor of two weekly newspapers owned by the Central Florida Communicators Group, LLC – the Florida Courier, first published in 1985 to serve Fort Pierce’s Black community; and the Daytona Times, based in Daytona Beach, which was founded in 1978.

She began her career in journalism with the Daytona Times, where she was hired in 1981 as a reporter. She eventually became the managing editor.

In 1985, she accepted a job as a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel, one of the first full-time Black copy editors hired there. She spent eight years at the Orlando Sentinel, including a year as a fulltime beat reporter covering Kissimmee city government.

Named one of the Orlando Sentinel’s top employees for design work on the Osceola Sentinel – a sister newspaper to the Orlando Sentinel – she also wrote profiles on residents in Osceola County. After her reporting stint, she was selected as a veteran copy editor to work on special projects in the Orlando Sentinel’s features department.

Preacher’s daughter

She left the Orlando Sentinel in 1993 to return home after her father, the Rev. M.H. Griffin, founder of Unity Faith Baptist Church in Naples, died.

The Naples Daily News hired Griffin in May 1993 as an assistant features editor and writer. She was promoted to features editor, the first Black journalist to serve in that position with the newspaper. She also became a key member of the Naples Daily News’ editorial board and was the first Black woman to serve on the board while chairing the newspaper’s diversity task force.

While she was at the Naples Daily News, Griffin also won the Florida Press Club award and an Honorable Mention from the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors for her weekly faith and values column.

On to Georgia

She packed her bags in 1999 to move to Metro Atlanta. In Georgia, she worked at New Leaf Distributing Company in Lithia Springs from 2000 to 2004, where she was an editor for the company’s trade magazines and catalogs. She also worked as the company’s trade shows coordinator and organized New Leaf Distributing’s presence at trade shows.

In 2004, she returned to Florida and worked for a year as news editor for the Christian Retailing magazine in Lake Mary before moving to Tampa and accepting the job at the Florida Courier.

More Awards

As a Florida Courier journalist, she has won awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Florida Press Association and the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists.

As a 2013-2014 recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, she wrote a series of stories exploring the stigma and misinformation about mental illness among African Americans.

She is a past president of the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists and its current treasurer. A member of the National Association of Black Journalists, she also is a charter member of the Central Florida Association of Black Journalists and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1993.

Active in Organizations

In addition, she is a past board member of NAMI Hillsborough, the Hillsborough County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She also is a co-facilitator of its Family-to-Family educational course and is certified as a NAMI support group facilitator.

A charter member of the Collier County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she serves as the chapter’s Public Relations chair.

Griffin now resides in Tampa Bay. She is a member of Love First Christian Center in Riverview.

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