By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter
Giving back to the people of Toledo is an ongoing priority for leaders in the African-American community. Our television news anchors have a long history of being trusted sources for breaking local news and even world events. Two of our very own media correspondents, Alexis Means of 13abc and Marcus Harrison of BCAN, have been honored with 2022 Emmy Awards for producing outstanding contributing news segments on topics of community interest while demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to public service.
Since Alexis Means joined the 13abc Action News team in October of 2001, she has been at the forefront of creative forward-thinking solutions to covering local news.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alexis, a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, enthusiastically informs us that, “Black and Gold doesn’t fold!”
Well, Means’ long-standing broadcasting career doesn’t fold, either.
Her career in journalism began in her sophomore year of high school when her mother and grandmother coerced her to attend a journalism workshop. “I was apprehensive at first but the week-long experience taught me the basics of the craft. The rest is as they say history,” recalls Means.
Means went on to attend Hampton University graduating with a degree in Mass Media Arts.
After college, she went to work for Sheridan Broadcasting Networks. She recalls, “I reported the Pennsylvania news and traffic for WAMO Radio and also worked at WTAE-TV, (an ABC affiliate) helping to produce the weekend morning and noon newscasts.”
A dynamic presenter of news, Means also spent two years at WKJG-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as a general assignment reporter while still managing time to work as a freelance journalist for WXYZ in Detroit.
Her community following proves her community impact runs deep, as evident on her active Facebook news page consisting of an array of followers from all walks of life in Northwest Ohio and surrounding areas.
The engagement the community exhibits on her page is inspirational.
On her social media platforms, Alexis encourages her readers to suggest solutions for the community, ideas for stories or even safe places to drop tips. “Our community is motivated to participate when they know we care about doing solid journalism with love and respect,” says Means.
Means has spent nearly two decades telling stories about the people and events happening in and around Toledo, Ohio.
In that time, she has been honored with a number of awards, including several from the Associated Press, two regional Emmy awards, and several Emmy nominations. In 2017, she was awarded the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award, alongside photojournalist Todd Gaertner, for hard news reporting for the story “Waging War on Heroin” for which they were also nominated for an Emmy.
The Edwin R. Memorial award is the highest and most prestigious award one can receive in journalism.
“I’m honored along with my team to be the recipient of the 53rd Central Great Lakes Emmy Award,” says Means. This is her second Emmy, winning in the category of BREAKING OR SPOT NEWS alongside team members Todd Gaertner, photographer, and Josh Croup, video journalist, for their coverage of the OSHP Shooting Suspect Manhunt in Findlay, Ohio.
“The community has been good to me as well as my ABC news station,” shares Means. “I think what I do differently than many other journalists is look at my platform as a ministry.”
Means goes on to explain that many times when going to someone’s home during an assignment, the families have often been through trauma or worse, the death of a loved one. “I’m always honest and loving in those moments, letting family members of victims know though their journey may be long, God always reveals.”
Means has also been featured in the Sierah Joughin documentary Buried in the Backyard: Sierah Joughin Vanishes From Ohio on Oxygen, resulting in a violent offender registry named #SierahsLaw in the victim’s loving memory. Over her career, she has gained national attention for stories reported right here in Toledo, including her ongoing coverage of the three Toledo pastors convicted of sex trafficking a minor.
Alexis Means shows how a forward-thinking news leader can serve and inspire support for strong community news. Her coverage has earned both financial and civic support —we applaud her body of work.
Good storytelling pulls people together across ethnic groups, the political spectrum, city and rural life.
Marcus Harrison the premier storyteller, creative producer and supervisor for Buckeye Community Arts Network (BCAN). He is responsible for developing BCAN’s premiere local arts and humanities media authority under the umbrella of Buckeye Broadband. BCAN is the sister network to BCSN and represents the artistic expression of NW Ohio through education, performance, and exhibition.
British statesman Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
History proves that people who attempt to abandon their historical past often continue to repeat past failures, a primary driver behind Harrison’s passion for telling the barely told stories of Toledo’s past.
“We are bringing nearly-forgotten local history back to the forefront of people’s minds,” says Harrison. “We have a rich history right here in Toledo that people should never forget.”
Harrison has 20 years of experience in media development and production through his time at WGTE Public Media, WBGU-TV in Bowling Green and at BCAN. Harrison holds a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications & Marketing and a master’s degree in Technology Education, both from Bowling Green State University. As a past adjunct professor at BGSU and currently at the University of Toledo, Harrison has devoted his life to being a lifelong learner and educator of the arts.
As a 2022, 53rd Central Great Lakes Emmy Awards Recipient, Marcus Harrison is celebrating winning his first Emmy after several past nominations. He brings home the win in the NOSTALGIA category for his production of UNTOLD: Hidden Stories of NW Ohio-WIllow Beach.
While Willow Beach has taken its place deep in our history books, Harrison’s BCAN production of his new series notably brings our local history back to the forefront of our minds in a new engaging format.
“I hope my work inspires other filmmakers and producers. People that look like me and those that don’t, both— tell great stories,” says Harrison. “History is important, there is a lot we can learn from those who came before us.”
The Untold series is hosted by Charles Welch, formerly of 107.3 The Juice. “Our subject matter expert for this segment is Tedd Long, a very well-known local historian,” explains Harrison.
In BCAN’s new docu-series historian Long reveals Willow Beach was the talk of the town in its heyday, fully equipped with rides for the family, including a roller coaster and bumper cars. There was also a nightlife scene for adults encompassing a dance pavilion as well as a casino. “With the help of Long and other community leaders, we did our best to bring a fresh perspective to Toledo’s untold history,” shares Harrison. “Our future aspiration is to continue creating content that engages, educates and informs”.
The Next untold storytelling experience features Ella P. Stewart.
Determined to become a pharmacist, Stewart resolved to never take no for an answer. After first refusing her enrollment, The University of Pittsburgh eventually allowed her admission, and in 1916 she became the first Black woman to graduate from their School of Pharmacy.
Stewart lived in both Youngstown, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, before deciding to move to Toledo, Ohio, to open the first Black-owned pharmacy here in 1922. “Ella P. Stewart was truly committed to advancing the lives of Black people and other marginalized groups in her community. I look forward to Toledo’s reception of this interactive history lesson,” shares series producer Harrison. “Still, her most special honor was believed to be the naming of one of our own Toledo elementary schools after her; the Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls.”
Stewart was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1978.
It’s enriching to be part of nearly everything involving your community. It’s flattering to have your counsel sought and just as flattering to accurately document others’ opinions and historical accounts. All good leaders have an ethos they live by, and for media pros Alexis Means and Marcus Harrison, community trust is a shining beacon in their work. “Ultimately, trust is at the heart of everything I do,” says Means.
As for Harrison, he says, “To me, there is no higher honor than to have earned the community’s trust on documenting Toledo’s untold stories. It’s my honor.”
You can follow Alexis Means on abcnews platforms and her social media accounts for cutting edge story updates.
If you’re a Buckeye subscriber you can watch BCAN’s Untold series on their network, their app, or watch select episodes on their YouTube channel.