She received a master's degree in journalism from Ohio State University in 1995. She also received a master's degree in interactive journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., in 2010.
While a student at Ohio State, she got to interview Susan Taylor, who was the editor-in chief of Essence magazine at the time, in the summer of 1995.
"I just really admired her, and I really respected her, and that's when I was like, 'Oh, I think I want to be a magazine writer,'" Joiner says. "... She left a really big impression on me."
At OSU, she did her thesis on how media portray Mississippi, and especially her home state's depiction during the Civil Rights Movement.
At the same time, George Curry, editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, was writing a book on Emmett Till. Curry told her graduate adviser that he was looking for a copy of the old Look magazine with confessions of Till's killers, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, which was in the OSU library at the time. He also needed research help.
"(My graduate adviser) said, 'I have the perfect person for you,'" Joiner says. She then helped do research on Till for Curry's book.
After graduation, she moved to Atlanta to work for Upscale magazine for three months. While she was there, Curry called and told her that Emerge had a position open. She worked for the magazine as an associate editor from 1997 to 2000. She has also freelanced for publications such as VOX.com, Washington Post, Essence magazine, Ebony magazine, JET magazine and
the Daily Beast.
She is currently the interim editor-in-chief of The Crisis magazine, which is the official publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She also has a fellowship from the Schuster Institute/Fund for Investigative Journalism to write about criminal-justice issues. For her fellowship, she is doing a multimedia package about the causes of recidivism for USA Today.
Still, her favorite subject to write about is the Civil Rights Movement. It was a time in our history where just ordinary folk like Fannie Lou Hamer said, 'I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired,' so they pulled up their plows, and they got to work," she says.
"They marched, they boycotted, they demonstrated, they fought for their rights, their human rights, their civil rights, and what they did was change America. They changed America. ... They sacrificed so much. People sacrificed their lives, people lost their jobs, people lost their homes," she adds.
Joiner says she has considered moving back to Jackson many times, but Washington, D.C., gives her the opportunity to see national politics unfolding. One of her favorite moments was being at President Barack Obama's inauguration.
"I still have goosebumps, actually being able to witness that in person," she says.
She also got to see Oprah receive her Presidential Medal of Freedom. "It's been awesome to be a journalist and to be a fly on the wall and to be able to write about the journey of people," she says.
"That's the great thing about journalism: you get to tell people's stories, and you get to enlighten people, you get to empower people, and you get to inspire people just through the stories of others."