Sofiya Ballin, award-winning journalist, writer, curator, and storyteller, has been named as the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalist (PABJ) 2017 (Online) Journalist of the Year. The She was recognized by the organization for her features series “Black History Untold: What I Wish I Knew,” which was posted to the website philly.com. Through her work, Ballin is charting new paths in digital journalism.
Ballin was born in New York and is based in Philadelphia. She is the oldest daughter of Jamaican parents and was recognized early on for her writing ability: her kindergarten teacher mounted her poem “Cats” in the school hallway for everyone to see. Ballin later wrote for her school newspaper where she discovered she liked “having permission to be nosy” as a reporter. At age 17, she wrote personal stories about growing up with natural hair on TheCoilReview.com and covering the diversity of beauty in American society. Ballin also interviewed Ziggy Marley during this period of her career.
Ballin’s award-winning series explores the importance of a comprehensive Black History education using a number of powerful essays. The project provided Ballin with the chance to address big issues, and it has included Jesse Williams, Marc Lamont Hill, Cory Booker, Black Thought and Jazmine Sullivan, among others.
Ballin has written about trends such as cuffing season and the emergence of Black Twitter. She covered major news events like the local Ferguson and Baltimore protests. She has also photographed and produced digital fashion features and contributed opinion pieces that speak particularly to millennials.
Her goal is to humanize all walks of life through mentorship. Her work includes being Features Reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and she has numerous celebrities, from Tyler Perry to Jidenna. Her writing has also been featured on Huffington Post, Okay Player and FADER. Her dedication to the craft has brought her many honors, including being named the “2017 PABJ Journalist of the Year (Online) and a “Caribbean American Thirty under 30 Emerging Leader.”
“All my life, I’ve learned that there were stories untold and that not every legend was etched into bronze, my goal is to tell their stories,” she said.
Ballin also brings her insight and zeal off the page as well through events like her Caribbean and African WUK Party and The Electric Lady series, a weeklong event series celebrating and reclaiming what it means to be a woman.
A graduate of Temple University, Ballin is proud of her Jamaican roots and loves its culture and identity. She takes every opportunity to interweave the elements of what makes us who we are into the fabric of her work. Her versatility as a writer and reporter allows her to speak with Levi Carter about his beef with SpongeBob and then discuss being pro-life with Lecrae.
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and support of black journalists in the media. Founded in 1973 by journalists, the organization was created out of concern about the lack of coverage of the black community in the mainstream media.
The PABJ awards are given in recognition of those black journalists in broadcast, print and/or online sectors who provide coverage of extraordinary depth, scope and significance to the African American community and to black people of African descent.
Photo Source: Sofiya Ballin (facebook)