Age may rival politics in COVID-19 vaccine debate

New research from the University of Georgia suggests age and risk perception may have as much of an effect on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance as party affiliation.

“There’s been a lot of attention to political ideology as a barrier to COVID-19 vaccination acceptance,” said Glen Nowak, corresponding author of the study and professor in Grady College. “What we found in our survey was that’s not so much true as people get older. Current CDC coverage data affirms this. People who are 65 and older are almost universally vaccinated, particularly as you start getting to 75 and older.”

The nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 people examined how demographic characteristics—such as age and sex, political ideology and news source preference—related to views on COVID-19 and vaccine intent.

Respondents who were age 50 or older considered themselves more at risk for severe illness from the coronavirus. And they were more concerned that catching the virus would negatively impact their daily lives.

Younger Americans were less likely to consider themselves at risk of severe illness. They’re also less likely to worry about contracting the virus and less likely to keep themselves up to date on the latest COVID-related news.

“Looking at 18- to 29-year-olds, it’s not surprising that they are the group with the lowest overall COVID vaccination rates because they’re not a group that is suffering serious illness and death from COVID,” said Nowak, who also serves as co-director of UGA’s Center for Health and Risk Communication. “Are there instances of that? Absolutely. But it’s relatively rare. I think many people in that age group understand that.”

More COVID-19 information isn’t always better 

Published in the International Journal of Strategic Communication, the study found that political affiliation and where participants got their news were the most consistent predictors of how an individual felt about their COVID-19 risk level and their vaccine intent.

Liberals in the study viewed the virus as a bigger threat to their daily lives than conservatives. They worried about becoming ill, believed symptoms would be severe and expressed concern that they could pass the disease to others. They were also more likely to accept the vaccine and trust authority figures like the CDC and FDA.

Both liberals and moderates believed medical care and treatment would be more difficult to access than conservatives.

Surprisingly, people who said they get their COVID-19 news from a variety of sources, both conservative and liberal, were more likely to be vaccine hesitant than those who stuck to partisan news sources.

“If you had asked us before we this study, we would have said pretty confidently that people who were looking at a wide array of information would be much more likely to be vaccinated and have much more confidence in the vaccine,” Nowak said. “What this suggested was the opposite in many instances. Many people who tried or said that they looked at a broad spectrum of information sources came away less confident and more uncertain about the vaccine and its value.”

Public health should tailor messages to the right audiences 

The differences between participants on the right, left or middle highlight the need to tailor COVID-19 messaging to different populations, Nowak said.

Those who aren’t in a high-risk category, like young adults, quickly realize that they’re unlikely to get really sick from the coronavirus and largely tune out public health education efforts.

Communications to these populations should focus on more realistic situations for them, Nowak said. For example, emphasize that there aren’t great treatments available to treat patients if they are one of the few who do need hospitalization.

“This data shows you can’t assume interest and attention from younger people and those who are less affected by COVID-19,” Nowak said. “It’s a good reminder that we can’t just blast, ‘Everybody should be afraid of getting severe COVID.’ That’s not an effective communication strategy.”

This study was co-authored by Michael Cacciatore, an associate professor in the Grady College and co-director of the Center for Health and Risk Communications.


Editor’s Note: This release was originally posted on the UGA News website.

 

Grady InternViews: Ciera Walker

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

As a social media intern for ESPN, my daily duties include creating posts for engagement on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok based on what’s trending in sports. I work with my team to discover new viral content and create videos and graphics to share across social media platforms.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned so far is to volunteer for extra work outside of my regular duties and responsibilities. I’ve found that when I pitch in to help out with something or ask to help out on a particular project, that both my co-workers and managers are appreciative and take note of those gestures. It gives me the opportunity to connect with other individuals in the company that I might not typically work with and gain different perspectives on what this position totally encompasses. When I ask to help out, it shows that I’m serious about what I do and want to soak up as much experience from this role as possible.

How has this role helped you discover what you are passionate about?

This role has helped me discover what I’m passionate about by allowing me to see my own reactions to certain tasks given to me. When certain initiatives come up or campaigns take place, I find myself growing excited and almost giddy to work on the content that needs to be created. I know that I’m passionate by the response I have for the work that I’m doing. When I end an entire work day still energized and eager for what might come tomorrow, I know that’s only possible because of the passion that’s fueling me.

Earlier this year, Ciera was named a 2022 Disney UNCF Corporate Scholar. (Photo:submitted)
How will this role guide your future career path?

As I move forward in my career, I want to continue working in social media. This role has guided me towards that by preparing me for what a job in sports social media will look like. This position has shown me different sides of this industry that I had never recognized before and has pointed out the areas that I need to continue developing in order to truly excel in this field.

What advice would you give to other students who are looking to pursue similar opportunities?

The advice that I would give to students looking to pursue similar opportunities is to always take the risk, because you never know what might come from it. Originally, I was skeptical about applying for this internship because I was worried that I wasn’t qualified enough for it. I thought maybe I hadn’t done enough or didn’t have enough experience to be considered. However, I took the risk, applied, and placed confidence in myself to know that I was capable of working in this role. Many students miss out on amazing opportunities because they count themselves out before ever trying. My advice is to never walk away from an opportunity because of a fear or doubt that you’re not enough.

Ciera is interning remotely with ESPN. (Photo:submitted)
What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

My favorite part of the internship so far has been getting to create content for major sports events including the NBA Finals, the NBA Draft and the Title IX project. I love seeing the vision that the team creates come together and the reaction that fans have to the work that’s been done. It’s fun to see certain Instagram posts or TikTok vides pop up on my own social media accounts from ESPN that I worked on and created.

If you could describe your internship in only three words, what would they be?

Surreal, invigorating, dynamic

Vicki Michaelis receives Association for Women in Sports Media award

Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society and director of the John Huland Carmical Sports Media Institute, is the recipient of the 2022 Ann Miller Service Award by Association for Women in Sports Media. It is presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the organization.

Michaelis has worked at Grady College since 2012, and has been the faculty adviser for the AWSM student chapter at the University of Georgia and she regularly participates in conventions as a moderator or panelist.

Before joining UGA, she spent more than two decades as a sports journalist, including at USA Today as the lead Olympics reporter and Denver bureau sportswriter covering professional and college sports. She also was a reporter for The Denver Post and The Palm Beach Post.

“Getting an award named for Ann Miller? Priceless to me,” Michaelis said. “She isn’t just part of AWSM’s foundation. She’s part of its soul. That soul, that community, has meant so much to me and my career — as both a journalist and a professor. I am truly honored.”

Michaelis is a former president and chair of the board who has played a role in several AWSM endeavors. She was a regional coordinator, helping plan and host events in the Denver area, and took on treasurer responsibilities during her time as chair.

“Vicki’s involvement and support of AWSM long after serving on the board embodies what the Ann Miller Service Award is all about,” AWSM president Ashley Colley said. “She has helped so many women at both the student and professional level. I’ve witnessed her contributions on both fronts, working with student chapters and giving advice to many of our members seeking guidance from a veteran woman in this industry. We thank Vicki for always making time to give back to AWSM.”

Established in 2013, AWSM’s service award is named in honor of Ann Miller, a longtime Hawaii-based sports reporter who was the organization’s treasurer for its first 10 years, served as board chair and has attended nearly every convention despite the long travel distance.


Editor’s Note: The above was edited from a feature written by AWSM. An original copy of this feature can be found on the AWSM website.

Vicki Michaelis provides input to students in an outdoor class of Multi-platform Storytelling in Sports in April 2022. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Grady InternViews: Austin Clark

Austin is participating in the Grady D.C. program led by Professor Joseph Watson.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I support the entire communications team through compiling daily press clips, drafting press releases and creating press lists. Additional office wide responsibilities include logging voicemails and comments left for the Senator, and giving tours of the Capitol.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have been able to see how a Senate office is able to create and maintain relationships with journalists in Georgia. There is not an emphasis on national publications, but the communications team will target specific releases to markets to which the news is relevant. Seeing that deliberative process, as opposed to a mass email, has been interesting to learn.

Austin (far left) behind Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock addressing a crowd. (Photo:submitted)
How will this role guide your future career path?

I would love to make it back to D.C. soon. I am staying at Delta Hall, UGA’s dorm in D.C., and I have loved every second of it. The connections I have made so far in Senator Ossoff’s office, at networking events, and even in the elevator in the office building, will help me land a job up here when I graduate.

What advice would you give to other students looking to pursue a career in politics?
Austin is interning in Washington D.C. as part of the Grady D.C. program. (Photo:submitted)

Start looking for internships and opportunities now. The Virtual Student Federal Service is a great place to find remote, low commitment internships with the State Department and other federal agencies. I have participated in that program for two years, and I have no doubt it helped me land this internship.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

The work of drafting press releases and collecting daily press clips is nothing new to me; however, being in the Senate, in D.C., and being able to go to the Capitol building whenever I want is very, very cool. I have also been able to interact with the Senator and speak to him about policy and communication strategy.

Austin (pictured left, back) is a communications intern for the office of Senator Jon Ossoff (pictured right). (Photo:submitted)
How has the public affairs communications (PAC) certificate prepared you for this role?

The PAC certificate has given me the ability to make suggestions to this professional communications team that shows that I know what I’m talking about. Being able to ask, “Can I help pitch this story?” or “Would you like for me to find new outlets for this release?,” shows that I too am a professional communicator, and that my team can trust me with other assignments.

Students return from first-ever Health Journalism in Cuba study away trip

From May 30 to June 8, a group of students from Grady College participated in a new study away Maymester program in Havana, Cuba.

The program, titled “Health Journalism in Cuba,” gave both undergraduate and graduate student travelers an in-depth look at the island nation’s healthcare system and how local and international journalists find and convey health stories to the public.

Students Delaney Tarr and Keshondra Shipp learn how to dance the salsa.
Keshondra Shipp (L) and Delaney Tarr (R) learn Cuban Salsa during a class at El Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas (CIPS) in Havana, Cuba, on June 6, 2022. (Photo: Maureen Costello)

“This unique, interdisciplinary program was such a valuable experience for all involved,” said Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair of Health and Medical Journalism at the College. Rice coordinated the program with the help of Hilda Mata of the Office of Global Engagement and Maureen Costello, of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. 

While there, students had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with Cuban health and science journalists, and they were able to speak with doctors, nurses and sports medicine specialists about a public health system that differs from what exists in the United States.

“It was amazing to observe ‘aha’ moments as they noted the differences and stepped outside of their comfort zones for this truly eye-opening intercultural exchange,” Rice added.

Over the course of the 10-day trip, students also had the opportunity to explore in and around Havana. They toured a nature reserve, tried local honey, visited radio and television studios, and, of course, visited local hospitals and clinics, among other activities.

“It was a great atmosphere. It’s a gem. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Keshondra Shipp, a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student, said about visiting Las Terrazas, a small, rural community outside of Havana.

To document their trip, students were tasked with creating blog posts and photo stories. Regularly, they were able to converse with health care professionals and journalists, as well as mass communication students at the University of Havana, about their experiences.

“Having the opportunity to do this sort of cultural exchange while in school is so important,” said Alex Anteau, also a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student.

“Despite the fact that the planet is very large, a lot of the problems people face are very universal – especially when it comes to health communication,” Anteau added. “On the whole, we are really dealing with similar issues, and it is really interesting to see how people with different backgrounds approach those challenges.”

  • Students visit the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) in Havana, Cuba. They are seated in front of portraits of José Martí (left) and Juan Gualberto Gómez (right). (Photo/Sabriya Rice)

Grady InternViews: Christine Yared

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

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities.

I work closely with the preschool team to gain insight into the development pipeline. My role as an intern includes assisting the staff with various office duties, shadowing the development staff on projects, observing creative meetings, and gaining exposure to the workflow. Additionally, I provide script coverage, review stories, and learn about pitching.

How will this role guide your future career path?

As someone who aspires to work in children’s media, this role will allow me to get an inside look at the industry and see where I would best fit in.

What about this position has surprised you?

I have been pleasantly surprised by how intentionally Nickelodeon has crafted their internship program. They truly want interns to learn during their time here so that they can succeed in their future careers. A few of the ways the company does this is by organizing meetings where interns can hear from employees in different departments, emphasizing mentorship, and supporting the physical and mental well-being of the interns.

What is the most challenging part of this position?

The most challenging part is not being able to talk about the projects I’m working on!

What lessons will you take back with you to the classroom in the fall?

I will take back the lessons of not selling myself short and being more confident when I express my thoughts and opinions.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

My favorite part has been getting to work and form relationships with all the kind and talented people at Nickelodeon, especially those on the preschool team! 

Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed awarded 2022-2023 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship

Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed, assistant professor in Entertainment and Media Studies, has been named a recipient of a 2022-2023 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship. 

Administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, the fellowship provides funds for travel and related expenses for tenure-track faculty pursuing advanced scholarship, research and study.

Mohammed’s research project is titled, “Media and Decolonization: Re-righting the Subaltern Histories of Ghana.” With this funding, she plans to travel to several cities in Ghana, including Tamale and Accra, to conduct archival research, ethnographic observations and follow-up interviews to supplement research already done which will become a scholarly book.

Wunpini Mohammed, assistant professor in EMST, teaches Entertainment Media Analysis outside in the Media Garden.
Wunpini Mohammed, assistant professor in EMST, teaches Entertainment Media Analysis outside in the Media Garden. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

“In this research project, I am interested in examining the silenced histories of media in African communities that have historically been shut out of their own representations,” said Mohammed.

“I am going back to my community in Ghana to learn more about the media cultures of the country to satisfy some of the curiosities I had growing up as a child,” she continued. “I will be examining content on mediums such as radio and TV, focusing on how they have served as a tool for marginalization and a site of resistance within this community.”

Mohammed will be spending time at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in Accra to sort through their archives and gather data to support the section of her book on technology and media development in Ghana.

Mohammed will also spend time at community gatherings to learn more about community relationships with media at the regional and national level. In Tamale, she will be hosted by the  Department of Communication, Innovation, and Technology of the University for Development Studies. 

“Growing up, I barely saw representations about me and my community in national media. This sparked my interest in media and the politics of media representation,” Mohammed said about what motivated her to pursue this research topic. “These experiences have inspired me to contribute to building knowledge in the field of media so that the people who come after me will have something to build on too.”

Grady InternViews: Erin Riney

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

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities.

As a project management intern, I am working on the Regions Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield accounts this summer. I will be working under two senior project managers. In this role, I will be creating timelines, estimating budgets, and scoping the necessary resources for all our projects.

How will this role guide your future career path?

I knew that I wanted to pursue project management at the end of my undergraduate career. I have prior experience creating timelines and managing a team, but I have never done anything regarding budgets or resource management. I am excited to learn more about these so I have a complete skillset as a project manager. These next two months will also help me decide whether I want to work at a bigger agency (like Luckie) or a smaller one after I graduate with my master’s degree.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

Be flexible! Agency life is fun, but it is also extremely fast-paced and challenging at times. Sometimes proofing takes a little longer than expected, or a design is finished earlier than the date listed on the timeline. Regardless, be flexible and work together to submit the deliverable to your client when promised.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

My favorite part of the internship has been the people. Everyone that I have met at Luckie so far is incredibly talented, but they are also extremely welcoming and willing to help in whatever way that they can, even if they do not work in your specific department. I have also enjoyed working with some of the bigger clients that Luckie has.

Erin works in an office in Duluth, GA. (Photo:submitted)
If you could describe your internship in only three words, what would they be?

Challenging, hands-on, rewarding.

What advice would you give to students looking to pursue similar opportunities?

For those who want to pursue a career in advertising, I would suggest working in an agency at least once. Even if you decide that you want to work on the client side, agency life challenges you and causes you to grow extremely quickly. It is also beneficial to know both sides of the industry.

Grady InternViews: Dania Kalaji

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

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities. 

I am a Dow Jones News Fund intern. I’m in a cohort of around 150 other Dow Jones news interns who are placed in specific newsrooms around the country. These newsrooms have a contract affiliation with the Dow Jones News Fund so that they can better equip younger journalists. The one I’m with is called Bay City News Foundation. It is based in Oakland, California, but I’m living in San Francisco. It’s a newswire and a nonprofit that covers the entire Bay Area.

My internship is really flexible, so some days of the week, I’ll be writing daily news stories that are cast out on its newswire to around 8 million audience viewers. On the other hand, I’m also working on bigger capstone stories. Although my position is listed as a copy editor, they’re giving me the ability to also write stories – which is really great for me, because that’s my forte. I’m doing a mix of writing, copy editing and social media.

student on computer
Dania attended training at the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas before moving to the Bay Area for her internship this summer. (Photo:Bradley Wilson)
What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

My favorite part about my internship so far would definitely be the 10 day training at the University of Texas. For those 10 days, it was long hours and pretty rigorous training, but it really taught me how important it is to be a well-rounded journalist. It doesn’t just take writing, telling a story and giving people voices that we seldom hear – it’s also about the nitty gritty stuff. By that, I mean headlines, SEO and framing your stories in particular ways on social media or in newspapers as well.

I was in a cohort with about 15 other Dow Jones news fund interns and that was the best part of it, being able to make new friends that are at my exact same level in journalism and my age. It was great to connect with them, and connect with the professors that were leading the program and to hear from different panelists from, for example, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post – it was really such a well-rounded experience.

What about this role has surprised you?

I think what’s most surprising is the trust that they’ve placed in me as an intern. I think that it’s really important when they place trust in you, because it allows you to grow and to see where your interests lie. I’m really interested in arts and entertainment, as well as critical writing. I think having that time to experiment is very important. Having these resources around you, all the professional journalists who’ve been in the industry for so long, they want to give you the guidance and the training. I think that is surprising to a lot of interns, especially myself, is that people really do want to help you and see you thrive. That’s why they gave you this position.

Dania will serve as the digital managing editor for The Red and Black this fall. She’s glad to have found a student-run publication that feels like home, where she’s grown as a journalist. (Photo:submitted)

Given that trust, I’m able to cover bigger stories. I’m working on this huge story on the Bay Area about gentrification and how it’s affecting artists of color. The trust they’ve placed in me is what gives me that confidence to reach out to what I call “sharks”, those are the sources that are really hard to seek and are sometimes impossible to reach. But because your mentors give you that competence, you never know what could happen. So, because I was able to reach out to this person, with the confidence and the trust they’ve given me, I now have this really big interview, and I wouldn’t have had that if they didn’t push me to do so.

How will this internship guide you in your future career path?

Coming into college, I felt really lucky knowing that journalism is what I wanted to do, and choosing UGA wasn’t hard because I knew Grady had such an incredible program that sets you up perfectly for all these careers. I got my current internship because I did an internship last summer with Pensacola News Journal, which is my hometown paper. It’s part of Gannett, which is the USA Today network. I was able to get that internship because my professors and mentors at Grady, who were the ones that pushed me to do so. They gave me that competence to do it, because I knew I could, but I just needed to hear it from other people who I trust and look up to as models. After getting that internship, that’s when I was able to open my network in the journalism world. Now, I feel that I’m in a good place to explore the many options of journalism. Since I’ve been at The Red and Black (this will be my third year now), I’ve moved my way up in the ranks. I started as a contributor on the news desk, and then I was the outreach manager, and then I was the diversity, equity and inclusion chair for a year. Coming into the fall, I’ll be the digital managing editor. It’s really cool to be able to immerse yourself in everything that Grady and UGA has to offer, because that’s what’s going to ultimately lead me into my next role.

Dania’s view from the press box at the Chase Center, where she covered the NBA finals game for the Golden State Warriors. (Photo:submitted)

This internship is teaching me about different aspects of journalism, so that I can figure out exactly what I want to do later down the road. Given all of these opportunities, I’m really interested in the arts and entertainment world of journalism. I think the landscape of being a critic and writing film reviews is really exciting. What also excites me is breaking news and enterprise stories that are focused on diverse communities, and the people that we don’t really get to hear from a lot. When you look at my work, that’s what my stories are mostly focused on. I think as a young journalist, being able to navigate through all these internships and through all the different opportunities that you’re given is such a blessing because you get to experience all aspects of journalism.

How have your experiences at Grady prepared you for this internship?

I’ve started speaking at a lot of journalism classes, especially the journalism seminar that Dean Davis leads. Every time I’m asked to speak in those seminars, I always start with this, and it’s that if I hadn’t joined The Red and Black, I would not be where I am right now. I say that with full confidence. Without The Red and Black, I wouldn’t be half the journalist I am today. It’s so easy to start somewhere there, and then so quickly get sucked in and go up the ranks. All of a sudden, you’re the digital managing editor, and it’s because you love it so much. It’s just an overall well-rounded experience. Through The Red and Black, I’ve been able to work alongside people, not only in my journalism cohort, but people of different ages. It’s cool to communicate with everyone and build those relationships, because it shows you how important it is to keep those people close to you, because we’re all going through the same thing. The Red and Black is like my home – I’m really lucky to have found a student-run publication that’s made me feel so comfortable, and that I can grow in any aspect that I want to.

As a multiplatform editing intern, Dania is writing stories for the Bay City News Foundation. She recently wrote a story on the Golden State Warriors victory at the NBA finals in San Francisco on June 16. (Photo:submitted)

I really think that the professors at Grady are so well-equipped for the world beyond college, and they really prepare you for that. Out of all the classes that I’ve taken, two classes I took in the past semester have especially prepared me for this internship. One of them was feature writing with Nick Chiles. I’ve never been challenged that much in a course before, and it’s because he really pushed us to be the best journalism students we could be. Especially in feature writing, I learned how to display human emotion through stories – and it’s really hard. You don’t really know how hard it is until you’re actually sitting there with a blank Google doc, and you’re like how do I even start…how do I convey a human emotion through this hour long interview that I just had? Also, I took a multiplatform story production with Charlotte Norsworthy. She’s so incredible – she was also my newsroom advisor at The Red and Black, and part of the reason why I’m in this internship today is because she’s just so stellar. I learned so much about not just writing a story, but how to equip it with good visuals, audio, video and social media – all the things you need in today’s day and age in any journalism role. Those two classes really showed me how important it is to put care into my journalism classes as much as I put care into working at The Red and Black. At the end of the day, those professors are going to be vouching for you, and they will remember you.

Dania (back row, third from left) pictured with other Dow Jones interns at the University of Texas. (Photo:Bradley Wilson)

Profile: Adam Pawlus, executive director, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists

For the past 20 years, Adam Pawlus (MA ‘01) has dedicated much of his career towards advocating for proper coverage of members of the LGBTQ community and promoting the need for diversity in newsrooms. 

Currently, Pawlus serves as the executive director for NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, an organization of over 1,000 journalists, news executives, communications professionals and educators that serves as a strong voice in the news industry, educating newsroom decision-makers about coverage of the LGBTQ community, promoting non-discrimination policies and the establishment of equal benefits, and creating educational opportunities to support the next generation of LGBTQ newsroom leaders.

Following is a brief interview with Pawlus.

Pawlus sits at a table and smiles.
“Pride month remains an opportunity to put a spotlight on the inequities faced by LGBTQ people and communities,” said Pawlus. (Photo:Submitted)
GC: What classes at Grady College did the most to prepare you for your career?

AP: I believe the balanced curriculum, including the practical, theoretical and skill-based course components that Grady College offered me as a master’s student, prepared me for a career in communications, as well as in nonprofit management. Twenty years after graduating, I may not be able to recite the five stages of the Transtheoretical Model of Change, but the analytical and critical thinking skills that were sharpened by the case studies presented as part of the curriculum have helped me through my career.

GC: What does LGBTQ Pride month mean to you?

AP: In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a group of LGBTQ people gathered outside of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and stood up to systematic discrimination and oppression in what has become immortalized as the Stonewall Uprising. That event was covered by the New York Daily News, under the headline “Homo nest raided, queen bees are stinging mad.”

These days, a headline like that would never fly (pun intended). Thanks, in part, to resources like the NLGJA Stylebook on LGBTQ Terminology, journalists across the country know that stereotypes and epithets like “homo” and “queen” are not appropriate for coverage.

In many ways, Pride month remains an opportunity to put a spotlight on the inequities faced by LGBTQ people and communities. Simultaneously, it is also an opportunity to publicly celebrate the people, successes and advancement the community has seen over the past half century.

On the most personal level, I see Pride month as an opportunity to celebrate the journey each of us in the LGBTQ community has taken in coming to terms with our own challenges, successes, milestones and self-acceptance.

GC: What advice do you have for a young member of the LGBTQ community who will soon be entering the workforce?

AP: Seek out allies and mentors who will support you to be your authentic self at work. Early in your career, it may be difficult to point out, and hold accountable, when you see people playing into stereotypes, using offensive, outdated language, or when you are on the receiving end of microaggressions. Find those leaders in your organization that can amplify your voice and help make cultural change when needed.

Also, join a professional network like NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Journalism & Women’s Symposium, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists, Public Relations Society of America and others.

There are so many professional associations that have programs, scholarships, fellowships, job boards and mentoring opportunities geared toward helping young professionals launch and navigate their careers. Get involved and never stop networking.

GC: What has been your greatest accomplishment since graduating from Grady College?

AP: I still regard graduating from Grady College with a Masters in Journalism as one of my greatest accomplishments. After graduating, I expected to work in corporate communications or at a public relations agency. When I took an entry-level communications position at a small nonprofit, my career shifted faster than it started. I found myself moving more and more into the world of nonprofit management. Even with that shift, the foundation that Grady College gave me in journalism, public relations, branding, crisis communications, event management and ethical corporate social responsibility, has helped me become a successful catalyst for change. Finding my way into a role working in association management alongside LGBTQ journalists just seems kismet and is the current peak of my professional accomplishments.

GC: Any other comments?

AP: We are often asked what the state of LGBTQ news coverage is in the United States. The short answer is, we’re doing better than we were 50 or even 30 years ago. We’re seeing fewer mistakes in coverage, specifically surrounding lesbian and gay people. Reviewing increasing numbers of submissions to our Excellence in Journalism Awards, we see that coverage of the community is improving, not only in big cities, but also in smaller towns. We see that journalists are holding themselves accountable to produce fair and accurate coverage. 

But as the base of knowledge around lesbian and gay people has grown, it’s becoming obvious where the gaps in knowledge and coverage lie. It has shown us where we still need to focus our efforts and programs. For instance, the most questions we get about coverage are around stories relating to transgender and nonbinary people. The transgender community faces much higher rates of violence than their cisgender counterpoints. Even in that group, transgender women of color are disproportionately affected. But beyond the mistakes, those critical stories are all but missing in coverage.

One of the groups that continues to be erased in coverage is bisexual people. Bisexual people are often misidentified as gay or lesbian. Not to mention, the age-old, harmful stereotypes that continue to come up in coverage.

It is critical that we properly report how people identify and avoid perpetuating damaging narratives.