Grady Intern Diaries: Maggie Cavalenes

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.
MC: I work with the content team and write social media copy for our three channels (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), make short video clips and write articles (like this one!). I have also done work with the consumer experience and corporate social responsibility teams, which I’ve enjoyed!

What was your favorite part about your summer internship?
MC: My favorite part was getting to know everyone at Guardian. It was an open concept office, so nobody could really have an “open door policy”, but it definitely felt like there was one. Every employee, even ones not in my department, felt welcoming and open to grabbing coffee and chatting about my internship, college and beyond. It was really special and nice to feel welcome and appreciated. Nobody hesitated to offer connections, whether personal or LinkedIn, or to take a look at my resume or scout for me for possible interesting job openings.

How did your internship help confirm your desired career path or make you re-evaluate what you want to do in the future
MC: Everyone needs communicators, and I was still slightly hesitant to work for Guardian, an insurance company I knew nothing about. I went for it anyway because it was in New York City, and now I know way more about insurance than I did when I started. I think this helped me see that corporate culture isn’t always stuffed-up or full suit and tie everyday, it can be friendly and flexible as well. This opened me up to going into corporate after I graduate versus other routes like nonprofit or agency public relations.

When you look back on your internship 10 years from now, what part of your summer internship do you expect to be most thankful for?
MC: I expect to be thankful for the independence it taught me. I believe it was a summer of self growth individually and as an employee. I experienced a lot that really proved it’s okay to be the first one to reach out, it’s okay to ask as many questions as you need, and that it’s okay to take on big tasks alone.

What is the most memorable experience you had during your internship?
MC: I helped set up a backpack drive for United Way at the New York office, but in total this event happened across 11 locations. Over 4,000 backpacks were stuffed with school supplies as well as encouraging notes to go to students in the surrounding communities in need. It was great to see this multi-location event come together and to see how Guardian is really committed to its values. Plus, this event was put together by the young leaders resource group, and I really enjoyed everything they did for us over the summer.

How will your summer internship affect the way you approach the rest of your time at UGA?
MC: With a year and a half left, I’ve got jobs and post-graduation on the brain  – scary! But I think my time at Guardian taught me a lot about what I expect from a workplace’s culture, work-life balance, and my coworkers. I hope the skills I have learned at Guardian continue to help me ask good questions and seek what’s best for me. I’m excited to keep improving my writing skills as well as learn more about digital media!

Previous Grady Intern Diaries:

Grady Intern Diaries: Kendall Lake

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.
KL: Spoke Media is a podcast production company, and because it’s still pretty small, I’ve been able to wear a lot of different hats. Spoke’s work includes producing its own original content and working on shows for clients or brands. I spend most of my time working on So, Bob, a show about the unintended consequences of technology, but I’ve been able to spend time with a lot of other projects too. I was even able to help out with a show that was #1 in the Apple Podcasts charts for a few weeks, Wondery’s Man in the Window. Like most jobs, my tasks are different day-to-day, but you can often find me transcribing audio, building an episode of a show in an audio editor, running a session in our recording booth, or preparing questions for upcoming interviews.

Grady: What was your favorite part about your summer internship?
KL: My favorite part of this internship is that I so rarely felt like an “intern.” Of course there were some training wheels my first couple of weeks, but after that I had responsibilities that truly made me feel like a member of the team. My coworkers and supervisor constantly make me feel valued and appreciated for the work I do, and that work actually feels useful. Even when my tasks are small and menial (cough, transcribing), I take pride in knowing that my work and time are still essential to the finished product. Now that I’m reaching the end of the summer, someone makes a joke every couple of days about how I’m never allowed to leave or I should just drop out of school and stay at Spoke forever. While I’m excited to come back to UGA and finish the end of my program, I’ve really loved being a part of the Spoke family.

Grady: What was the biggest surprise in your internship (ie: is there anything you didn’t expect?)
KL: Coming from my Grady journalism background, I’ve always thought of podcasting as a medium largely full of journalists. But when I arrived at Spoke, I found out there was only one other person with a journalism background, and half the office actually majored in theater! Because podcasting is just another form of storytelling, their theater training means my coworkers can craft wonderful, compelling stories for your ears, and their improv experience means they make me laugh more than I ever have at work before. Of course, I’m a Grady grad; I still think journalism training is essential for a lot of podcasts. But now I understand that these two perspectives are important halves to a whole.

Grady: What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?
KL: As a tech lover (hey, New Media Institute!) with training in journalism, working on So, Bob has been a great fit for me. I’ve been able to implement knowledge and hard skills from what I learned at Grady, from being able to understand a conversation about Section 230 (thanks, Dr. Lee) to doing background research on sources and preparing interview questions. My biggest ongoing responsibility has been managing 25+ interviews with sources for the next season of So, Bob, and I definitely give some credit to Dr. Bright’s housing capstone class for my ability to balance so many projects and people at once.

Grady: How did your internship help confirm your desired career path or make you re-evaluate what you want to do in the future?
KL: I’ve been an avid podcast listener over the last five years or so, but I’d never thought too deeply about it as a career. I’d had some experience with audio journalism (shoutout to André Gallant’s Multiplatform Story Production class), but I didn’t know a lot about what the industry was actually like. Working at Spoke was an amazing introduction to all the steps that go into creating a well-produced podcast. Early podcasting has the reputation of just being a couple of people sitting around a microphone, hitting record, and sending it out into the world, but it has become a very skilled craft. I could definitely see myself honing this craft and finding my place in the industry. And even if I end up elsewhere, I’ll have a new appreciation for every breath edit, music insert, and sound effect I hear in a podcast.

Grady: How will your summer internship affect the way you approach the rest of your time at UGA?
KL: As I head into my last year of the Emerging Media program, I know I’ll be taking an independent study. I want to use that time to explore the industry more fully, expanding my gaze outside the walls of Spoke. As much as I’ve loved my summer here, I know there’s a lot more out there! I’ll also work to create some audio features for my portfolio so that when graduation hits next spring I’ll have some experience all my own to show off.

Previous Grady Intern Diaries:

Grady Intern Diaries: Haley Lacuesta

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.
HL: As the digital marketing intern for the ACC’s Plastics division, I disseminate messaging for chemical manufacturers and plastics makers through various social media platforms. I was given control of the Wrap Recycling Action Program’s (WRAP) Twitter and Facebook handles (WRAP is a national public outreach campaign that promotes plastic bag and flexible plastic film recycling on a government, business and individual level). Additionally, I have had the opportunity to participate in building a new project, America’s Plastic Makers (APM), from the ground up through strategic planning. My daily responsibilities include creating content calendars for social media, scheduling posts for WRAP and APM via a social listening tool, measuring monthly social media analytics, and designing creative content for Twitter cards and other graphics via InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. I also provide graphic design and SEO services to other corners of the Plastics department.

Grady:What was the biggest surprise in your internship (ie: is there anything you didn’t expect?)
HL: I was surprised by how warm and welcoming ACC was to its interns. They really value young professionals, and nearly every professional staff member I met were willing to answer my questions and act as mentor to me.

Grady: What is the most valuable lesson or skill you learned during your internship?
HL: I learned that it is vitally important to be detail-oriented and organized. Your employer can teach you all the technical skills needed to be successful, but organizational skills and foresight are characteristics that cannot be taught. I gained a lot of professional discipline through this internship experience.

Grady: What skill(s) did you learn at your summer internship that you expect to be helpful as you pursue your desired career
HL: This experience gave me vital insight to how communications campaigns and strategy operate on a national level. It also introduced me to the world of trade associations and advocacy groups.

Grady: What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?
HL: I took an online research and analytics course during my internship, which helped in a monumental way. The course introduced me to social listening tools like those I was using every day in the office. It also taught me how to analyze social media metrics in a meaningful way in order to adapt strategy and content to the ever-changing online landscape.

Grady: How will your summer internship affect the way you approach the rest of your time at UGA?
HL: I graduate in December, and I’m so glad I had this experience at the tail end of my undergraduate career at UGA. Not only did it give me vital professional experience that I will need after I graduate, it introduced me to some amazing mentors that can possibly help me pave my way back to Washington DC as a young professional. I have less anxiety about my future after graduation, because my network of advisors has grown.

Previous Grady Intern Diaries:

Jooyoung Kim named Dan Magill Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Sports Communications

Grady College advertising professor Jooyoung Kim has been named the first Dan Magill Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Sports Communications. The professorship honors Dan Magill, former UGA sports information director and tennis coach.

“The professorship clearly signifies the care and support for long-term research excellence carried by Grady faculty,” Kim said. “I consider the professorship as an unparalleled opportunity and encouragement for further research rather than a recognition of the works already done. The field of sports communication calls for scientific inquiries and insights to help build better relationships among teams, players, spectators, the general public and sponsoring brands for any sporting events.”

Kim’s research focuses on advertising theory and practice. He is currently focused on advertising engagement, integration effects and consumer emotion.

“I am delighted to appoint Dr. Kim the inaugural Dan Magill Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Sports Communications,” said Charles N. Davis, Grady College Dean. “This professorship will augment that many exciting things that Grady is doing in the area of sports media, and honors the Greatest Bulldog of Them All, so it means the world to me personally. An indelible memory of my deanship is getting to visit with Coach Magill and tell him about this professorship, and so seeing it come to fruition is most gratifying.”

Dan Magill was a staple of UGA athletics for seven decades. He coached men’s tennis for 34 years, winning 13 SEC championships and two national championships. He retired as the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 history.

“Beyond impressive record books, Coach Magill’s leadership and care are what really stand out,” Kim said. “As a professor teaching students majoring in advertising, I have coached many student teams for national competitions and helped them win numerous top awards. With the coach’s legacy now associated with me, I believe I will actively embrace his coaching spirit and dedication to UGA and its students, both undergraduate and graduate.”

Kim joined Grady College in 2004. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Interactive Advertising and an Associate Editor of International Journal of Advertising. He serves as the executive director of Grady College’s Business and Public Communication Fellows Program.

Grady Intern Diaries: Maya Jones

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.
MJ: My internship is part of the Publicis Health Internship program, which includes 35 interns in the New York Office. There are also interns in the programs at the Philadelphia and Chicago Offices, bringing the number to almost 60 interns. As a Corporate Marketing & Growth Intern, I work for the marketing and growth team at Publicis Health Corporate Office. My responsibilities include:

  • Collaborate with a team of six other interns to concept, develop, and pitch awareness and further promote a recurring event of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA)
  • Construct and present trend analysis research project to explain the transformations in the health and wellness industry to Publicis Health marketing and communications executives
  • Support chief marketing officer and global marketing manager on internal and external marketing and business development initiatives across Publicis Health network

What is the biggest challenge you faced during your internship?
MJ: Working on an intern project with interns from an office in another city was definitely the biggest challenge I faced during my internship. Group or team projects are challenging because you have to learn to speak to give your opinions and then listen to your teammates to collaborate and formulate the project at hand. It was slightly harder on this particular project because every meeting was conducted over a skype phone call, so you could not tell when a person in another office was going to speak or see their facial expressions. It took some time to learn how to give my own opinions during the meetings while also making sure that every team member felt heard and part of the project. In the end, I learned how to handle that dynamic and the project ended well.

What was your favorite part about your summer internship?
MJ: My favorite part of my summer internship is working with an amazing group of other interns across three different states (New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago). I find pure joy in meeting and forming relationships with diverse people. The intern class is very diverse in race, gender, and talent. I love hanging out with everyone during lunch or outside of the work place.

What is the most valuable lesson or skill you learned during your internship?
MJ: There’s power in asking questions and making connections, regardless of if you’re brand new to a company or have been working there for many years. Questions show initiative and willingness to learn. Networking or making connections can help with job/internship hunting, learning more about positions surrounding your desired career, meeting people, and your overall communication skills. Both of these skills we equally valuable during my internship.

What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?
MJ: The skills I learned from Public Relations Communications and Integrated Campaigns have been the most valuable for me during the course of my internship. I learned a great deal about writing, teamwork, communication, campaign methods, media planning, research, from these classes and have used the gained knowledge in the intern projects and daily tasks for the internship.

How did your internship help confirm your desired career path or make you re-evaluate what you want to do in the future?
MJ: This internship has helped me realize how much I enjoy research, especially research on the new generations. I love conducting researching, finding insights, and presenting that research to any person who it would be beneficial to in order to present new ideas for the changing times. I love the rush that presenting gives me, and it will always happen as I find new ideas to bring to the table.

Previous Grady Intern Diaries:

Grady Intern Diaries: Lucy Cao

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.
LC: My responsibilities as a social media intern had to do everything with immersing myself with the culture at NCR. NCR is known for their technological innovation from the drive through ATM to the Fintech that we experience all over the world today. I covered events live via Instagram stories, conducted research and assisted in evaluating content standards for NCR’s social platforms all summer. While the fun parts can be found on their Instagram (@ncrcorporation), some of the most interesting parts of my internship happened behind the scenes. I learned all about the reality of corporate communications and marketing.

Grady: What is the biggest challenge you faced during your summer internship?
LC: The biggest challenge I faced during my internship was the constant explanation of what I was doing at a Fortune 500, fintech leader like NCR. I was surrounded by software engineers and IT geniuses all summer, so being the one and only social media intern was quite a change. While it was repetitive to explain my very specific role at NCR, it helped me establish a clear-cut explanation for what social media can do for communications and the expression of the company’s culture. Education is key!

Grady: What was your favorite part about your summer internship?
LC: Imagine spending your days in one of the largest and high-tech buildings in Atlanta, updating the masses on happenings on campus via Instagram stories. Utilizing Instagram to communicate and helping create content was THE BEST part of my summer.

Grady: What is the most memorable experience you had during your internship?
LC: NCR is a company where everyone is available, down to the entire leadership team. One of my most memorable experiences at NCR starts with an elevator ride with none other than NCR’s CEO Mike Hayford and EVP & President of NCR Banking, Frank D’Angelo. They politely asked how I was doing and me being me, I responded with “I’m doing regular.” I am not sure if it was the response that they were expecting, but it’s how I felt in the moment.

Grady: What is the most valuable lesson or skill you learned during your summer internship?
LC: One of the most valuable lessons I learned during my internship experience is that persistence is necessary. Persistence, along with pushing myself out of my comfort zone, is vital to success at a company as vast as NCR. While social media might not be the business priority when compared to tech and innovation, I was able to make myself memorable in the eyes of the people that I have met and connected with.

Grady: How did your internship help confirm your desired career path or make you re-evaluate what you want to do in the future?
LC: My internship helped me confirm that Advertising was definitely the right major for me. I get to create, design, work with social platforms and communicate with people on a global scale. It made me realize that jobs are not cookie-cutter, and anything is possible if you make yourself available to the opportunities that come your way.

Grady: How will your summer internship affect the way you approach the rest of your time at UGA?
LC: I think it will change my intentionality as a student. The goal going into the school year is to be focused on graduation, securing a job and learning as much as I can while enjoying my last year as a dawg on campus. This internship has changed the way I think about experience versus education and how both are interchangeably useful in the real world.

Previous Grady Intern Diaries:

Len-Ríos elected to AEJMC Research Committee

María E. Len-Ríos, Grady College’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and professor of public relations, has been elected to a second term on the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Elected Standing Committee on Research.

She is one of nine newly elected officers to AEJMC. New officers were nominated and elected by a national voting body that comprises roughly 3,7000 members. The AEJMC national conference will be held this year Aug. 7 – 10 in Toronto.

“AEJMC was the first national organization I joined as a journalism and mass communication researcher, and it gives me great pleasure to serve in a leadership role providing Grady College and UGA added representation at the national level,” Len-Ríos said.

Among other responsibilities, Len-Ríos and fellow research committee members oversee nomination and selection processes for AEJMC’s prestigious national awards and represent research interests on the AEJMC Board.

Len-Ríos has served in a variety of roles with AEJMC in her professional academic career, including serving as head of the Communication Theory and Methodology Division. Most recently in 2018-2019, she chaired the Nafzinger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award competition which is AEJMC’s top honor for dissertation research. She says her passion for scholarship fuels her desire to recognize the elite work being done by communication researchers.

“I love it because we get to reward the great creativity and research produced by scholars from across the U.S. and internationally at all career levels,” said Len-Ríos.

Len-Ríos’ service to the research committee begins October 1, 2019.

She came to Grady College as a public relations associate professor in 2014. Prior to the University of Georgia, she taught at the University of Missouri, University of Kansas, and Georgia Southern University.

Here is a list of 2019 Grady College participation at AEJMC in Toronto.

Grady College faculty and graduate students participate in 2019 AEJMC conference

Faculty and graduate students from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will present research findings, receive awards and participate in panels at the 102nd annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference Aug 7-10, 2019, in Toronto, Canada.

The AEJMC is an educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals.

Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn is receiving the AEJMC Kreighbaum Under-40 Award. The Krieghbaum Under-40 Award is one of the AEJMC’s highest honors and is awarded to a single member under 40 years of age for outstanding achievement and effort in teaching, research and public service.

María E. Len-Ríos has been elected to a second term on the AEJMC’s Elected Standing Committee on Research.

Michael Cacciatore co-authored a paper, receiving the Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly Outstanding Research Article Award for “Is Facebook making us dumber? Exploring social media use as a predictor of political knowledge.”

Below are the Grady College faculty and graduate students who are participating at this year’s conference.


Tuesday, Aug. 6 

1-5 p.m. – Jonathan Peters is presiding over a pre-conference workshop, “Emerging Issues in Media Law.”

1-6 p.m. – Carolina Acosta-Alzuru is the speaker focusing on pedagogy in doctoral education in a pre-conference workshop for Graduate Directors.


Wednesday, Aug. 7

1:30-3:00 p.m. – Welch Suggs is a panelist on “The Future of Sports Magazines: Old Guard, New Niches.”

3:15-4:45 p.m. – Kyser Lough presents a refereed paper, “Journalism’s Visual Construction of Place in Environmental Coverage.

5-6:30 p.m. –Matt Binford (Grady Ph.D. student), Bartosz Wojdynski, Yen-l Lee (Grady Ph.D. student), Shuoya Sun (Grady Ph.D. student), and Andrea Briscoe (Grady Ph.D. student) present the refereed paper, “Who Paid for What? The Role of visual Attention to Content and Disclosures in Facebook Political Advertising.”


Thursday, Aug. 8

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Bartosz Wojdynski is the discussant for the session, “Top Faculty Papers in the Communication and Technology Division.”

8:15-9:45 a.m. Andrea Briscoe (Grady Ph.D. Student) will present the refereed paper, “Colton, Coitus, and Comedy: Male Virginity as a Punch Line on the Bachelor.”

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Joe Phua, Seunga Venus Jin (Emerson College), and Jihoon (Jay) Kim (Grady Ph.D. student), present a refereed paper, “Interaction Effects of Source Type and Message Valence in Instagram-based Advertising Messages about Veganism.”

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Juan Meng is a panelist for, “Empowering women in PR: Breaking through ethical and leadership challenges.”

11:45 a.m. -1:15 p.m. Brittany Jefferson (Grady Ph.D. student) presents the refereed paper, “Summer of ’67: A Comparative Analysis of Coverage of the Detroit Race Riots.”

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Itai Himelboim is a panelist for, “Strategic Use of Social Media and Social Media Data for Science and Health Communication.”

5-6:30 p.m. – Bartosz Wojdynski, Ivanka Pjesivac, Jihoon (Jay) Kim (Grady Ph.D. student), and Matt Binford (Grady Ph.D. student), and Keith Herndon present a refereed paper, “Look Around and Learn: Effects of 360-Degree Video in Online News.”

5-6:30 p.m. –Logan Molyneux (Temple University) and Bartosz Wojdynski present a refereed paper, “Guilt by Association: How Chum Box Advertising Affects News Readers’ Perceptions.”

5-6:30 p.m. – Welch Suggs moderates a paper session, “Sports Branding, Promotion and Public Relations.”


Friday, Aug. 9

8:15-9:45 a.m. – John Soloski and Ryan Kor-Sins (University of Utah) discuss, “Hegemonic Masculinity in the 2016 Presidential Campaign: How Breitbart Framed Trump as the ‘Uber’ Male.”

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Jinho Joo, Yoon-Joe Lee (Washington State Unversity) and Hye Jin Yoon lead a theme discussion, “Independent Self-Construal and System-Generated Cues: Causal Attribution in Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns.”

9:30-11 a.m. – Yan Jin is a panelist on Faculty Panel at PR Division’s Grad Student Bruncheon, Theme: “Finding Your Niche”. [Offsite Location: Batch, 75 Victoria St]

10-11:15 a.m. – Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn awarded Hillier Kreighbaum Under-40 Award

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. – María Len-Ríos, Patricia Moy (University of Washington) and Ivanka Pjesivac lead a theme discussion, “Latino Trust in Journalists and the 2016 U.S. General Election: An Analysis of Voter Responses.”

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. – Jonathan Peters presents a refereed paper, “I Also Consider Myself a First Amendment Lawyer.”

3-4:30 p.m. – Xuerong Lu (Grady Ph.D. student), Yan Jin, and Taeyeon Kim (Grady Ph.D. student) lead a theme discussion, “Information Vetting as a Key Component in Social-mediated Crisis Communication: An Exploratory Study.”

3-4:30 p.m. – Juan Meng is the discussant for the session, “Crisis Communication: Response Strategies.”

3-4:30 p.m. –Hyoyeun Jun (Grady Ph.D. student), Youngji Seo (Grady Ph.D. student), Andrea Briscoe (Grady Ph.D. student), Charan Ramachandran (Grady CURO undergraduate research fellow), and Bartosz Wojdynski will present a refereed paper, “Fighting the Tide: How U.S. Health Organizations use Twitter to Address the Opioid Crisis.”


Saturday, Aug. 10

11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. –DongJae (Jay) Lim (Grady Ph.D. student), Shuoya Sun (Grady Ph.D. student), and Bartosz Wojdynski present a refereed paper, “When Online Behavioral Advertising Mistargets: The Underlying Mechanism of Its Negative Impact.”

University of North Alabama’s Flor-Ala newspaper honored with Betty Gage Holland Award

The Flor-Ala at the University of North Alabama and former editor-in-chief Harley Duncan are the 2019 winners of the University of Georgia’s Betty Gage Holland Award for excellence in college journalism.

(pictured l-r: Stephanie Moreno, Grady College Scholastic Outreach Coordinator; Dr. Keith Herndon, Director of the Cox Institute; Harley Duncan; Dr. Janice Hume, Grady College Journalism Department Head; and Mike Hiestand, Senior Legal Counsel for the Student Press Law Center

The award recognizes campus journalists and their publications for distinguished service to protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. The annual award is co-sponsored by the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the Grady College and the Student Press Law Center.

Duncan led reporting efforts to uncover why the university’s vice president of student affairs resigned and a professor was banned from campus. His staff filed FOIA requests for personnel records. The requests were initially rejected. The newspaper eventually obtained selective personnel records and confirmed a Title IX investigation of the professor.

“I feel incredibly grateful to be awarded such a prestigious and honorable award, but I will always be indebted to the staff that worked around me and my former Adviser Scott Morris for helping me do great journalism,” Duncan said.

Morris was later informed that administration was rewriting his job description to require a PhD, meaning he was no longer qualified for the job. This act prompted the College Media Association to censure the University of North Alabama.

“The Flor-Ala has spoken to truth to power, obtaining and exposing information that the school was clearly desperate to keep hidden,” said Mike Hiestand, senior legal counsel for the Student Press Law Center. “That is what journalists do — and that is their legacy.”

Duncan credits a team effort from the Flor-Ala staff for discovering truth without cooperation from the university.

Harley Duncan chronicles his investigative reporting at the 2019 Management Seminar for College News Editors

“A lot of people at the university discredited the reporting I did and the articles we published, but this kind of recognition shows that we were doing our jobs well,” Duncan said. “My hope is that this award earns The Flor-Ala more respect and can spark a larger conversation at The University of North Alabama on the topic of public records and institutional transparency.”

The award honors the late Betty Gage Holland, long-time friend of journalism education at the University of Georgia.

An award of $1,000 is presented to the winning student journalist and an additional $1,000 is given to the publication sponsoring the winning entry.

“An award such as this should inspire college journalists by showing them the outstanding work of their peers,” said Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute. “In the case of this year’s winner, the work reminds everyone how public institutions often fail in meeting their obligations for transparency. When this happens, journalists must hold them accountable.”

The Cox Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership prepares students and professionals for leadership roles in the news media. It is named for the late James M. Cox Jr., who headed Cox Enterprises and Cox Broadcasting Corporation from 1957 until 1974.

The Student Press Law Center, headquartered in Washington, D.C., provides legal assistance and advocacy in support of student journalists nationwide seeking access to information from schools and colleges. The Center provides free legal training and educational materials for student journalists and their teachers on a wide variety of legal topics.

Individually tailored MFA program provides unique experience for Matt Pearl

Studying in a graduate program while working a demanding job is no small undertaking. Add the demands of becoming a first-time father, and for many students, that would be a recipe for disaster. But, not for Matt Pearl.

“That’s one of the advantages of this program, because it’s so individually tailored, you really get the experience that you want out of it,” Pearl said of the MFA in Narrative Media program, from which he graduates Aug. 3.

Instead of taking on an extensive research project that semester of his daughter’s birth, Pearl channeled his assignments into writing about his time as a new father.

“That’s a time you want to document everything you’re feeling because you know how quickly time moves. Not only was I able to develop as a writer and produce work that I am proud of, but it also gave me a memento of an incredible time in my life.” Pearl’s final project is a collection of writing about first-time fatherhood that he plans to turn into a book.

By many standards, Pearl already has a very successful career from which many would not make the time to pursue another degree.

Pearl has worked as a reporter for WXIA-TV since 2009, during which time he has won numerous awards, including six regional Emmys just this past June. He has received accolades from the National Press Photographers Association, including being named the Solo Videojournalist of the Year in 2015. He has written a guidebook called “The Solo Video Journalist,” as well as regularly posting to a blog and producing installments of his podcast, Telling the Story.

Matt Pearl during the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Photo: contributed)

So, what motivates someone like Pearl to go back to school?

“From a craft perspective in terms of print writing, I want to take on far more ambitious goals as a writer, and this program offers the perfect marriage of my goals” Pearl said.

Another benefit is a degree that would allow him to teach, something he has thought about doing in the future.

Pearl began considering the MFA at Grady College at the recommendation of a friend, Emma Lacey Bordeaux (MFA ‘17), who was in the first cohort. The fact that UGA was close to his home of Atlanta and was relatively economical were advantages, as was the fact that the MFA program was connected with a journalism college, unlike many other MFA programs around the country.

With his interest piqued, he met with the program narrative nonfiction director, Valerie Boyd.

“Valerie was very honest about the program, and I knew I would be in good hands,” Pearl said.

One of the biggest considerations in going back to school while working is the time commitment, but that has not intimidated Pearl. He admits that it is a huge work load, but managing the extra work load is preparation for the future, and he sees it as an asset and not a distraction.

“I think it’s good that there is a program that gets you working and reading and thinking critically, and forces you to do all of that in a condensed period of time,” Pearl said.

“There is never enough time, but this program gives you deadlines, while at the same time it gives you permission to experiment as a writer and take chances.” — Matt Pearl

The biggest take-away for Pearl is the way he looks at his broadcast journalism differently after taking these classes. Many of his favorite video stories that he has produced over the years were those he crafted in scenes, however he has a more nuanced way of looking at scenes now and plans them with increased intention.

Pearl also admits that he pays more attention to small details.

Pearl explains: “With video, you are letting video tell the story; you don’t have to tell what color the sky is because you see it. With writing, you need that attention to detail. It’s nice to be reminded of how detailed you can be with that attention and how essential that can be to great storytelling.”

The MFA in Narrative Media is a non-residential program, where each student spends two weeks a year on campus, and the rest of the time is spent online and via electronic contact with mentors and peers. Pearl is in the MFA track studying narrative nonfiction, while other students study screenwriting. Over the course of the narrative nonfiction program, students read an average of two books a month and write pieces to contextualize what they have read. They also write their own pieces, during which they are in regular contact with their mentors.

The commitment and dedication of the mentors is what makes the program special, according to Pearl. The narrative nonfiction program has an impressive list of mentors including James Beard Award-winning author John T. Edge, CNN’s Moni Basu and Jan Winburn, writer and filmmaker Lolis Eric Elie and professor emeritus Patricia Thomas, just to name a few.

“I don’t think any program like this works without instructors who are dedicated to it and continually push you to get better,” Pearl concluded. “In each case, the mentors challenged me, forced me to ask questions about my writing that I haven’t thought about, and offered a different perspective based on life experience, based on background, based on their own paths as a writer. These mentors have very busy, busy lives, but they carve out this time for people who have that same passion and have that same desire to use writing to make the world a better place.”