International women sports journalists visiting the University of Georgia. Dr.Tudor Vlad, Professor Vicki Michaelis and Dr. Welch Suggs joined in discussions with the journalists during their time at Grady.   

Women Sports Journalists Visit The University Of Georgia

“Being in the focus of an event like the Olympics gives a city and surrounding areas an opportunity to expand its collective perspective of the world, to interact with people from varied cultures, to gain and extend friendships, and to obtain a better understanding of the diverse nature of those who occupy our earth,” Dr. Richard Hudson, UGA Olympics coordinator told a group of 25 international women sports journalists on November 18, 2019.  “Such an opportunity is unique and the positive effects, both direct and those more subtle, continue to make an impact on local individuals and the overall community.  Also, it reaffirms to the city that when called upon it can rise to the challenges of most any occasion, and that together the people of the city have earned their own ‘Gold Medal.’   That feeling lasts on and on.”

The visitors were invited to the United States for a three-week program titled ‘Women’s Empowerment through Sports Journalism’ under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. The Georgia Center for International Visitors and the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research organized their program in the state of Georgia. The Cox International Center is the international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The main goals of the program were to illustrate the role of sports in helping women and girls play meaningful leadership roles in society, to demonstrate the U.S. experience with gender equality in the coverage of both men’s and women’s athletics, to explore approaches to overcoming challenges facing women sports journalists, and to establish lasting relationships with U.S. leaders in the sports sector, both at the grassroots level and in professional and academic sports.

Dr. Richard Hudson and Dr. Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center, welcomed the guests to the University of Georgia and gave them a tour of the UGA sports facilities. They both talked about the university’s contribution to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

The program in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication consisted of presentations by Professor Vicki Michaelis and Dr. Welch Suggs, who have developed together the Grady Sports Media undergraduate certificate program, and an open dialog on the role and challenges of women sports journalists. Michaelis joined the Grady College after 21 years as a sports journalist, the last 12 as the lead Olympics reporter for USA Today. She created the Grady Sports Bureau to give students real-world experience in covering high school, college, professional and Olympic sports. Suggs had previous careers as a journalist, as a policy advocate, and as a university administrator. He is the author of the book “A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX.”

"I saw the empowerment in action throughout the discussion I led with these sports journalists," said Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society at UGA. "They were sharing their experiences, offering each other guidance, finding common ground. Over the two decades I worked as a sports journalist, I found that kind of support system crucial for managing the challenges that women in this field encounter. Bravo to the Department of State and the Meridian International Center for this program."

“It was really inspiring to meet a passionate group of journalists from all over the world,” said Dr. Suggs. “The American landscape of sports and media is so different from those in other countries, but I think it’s really valuable to have conversations like this to explain how things work here and hear different perspectives to get a sense of how both sports and journalism could evolve.”

The 25 international women sports journalists that participated in the program were: Enkeleida Toma, Producer, Editor, and Developer, Ora News, Albania; Daniela Lucia Lichinizer, Sportswriter, Argentina; Shushanik Hakobyan, Head of Media, National Olympic Committee, Armenia; Georgina Francis Tunny, News Breakfast Presenter/Producer, Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Ms. Khayala Shahlarli, Senior Reporter and TV Presenter, Caspian İnternational Broadcasting Company Sport (CBC Sport), Azerbaijan; Renata Cicero Mendonca, Co‑Founder, Dibradoras, Brazil; Fiorella Jesus Masis Aguilar, Sports Journalist, La Nacion, Costa Rica;  Peggy Bergere, Freelance Video Producer for FIFA, L'Equipe TV, French Field Hockey Federation, France; Juliet Bawuah, Sports Presenter, TV 3 Network, Ghana; Theodora Panteli, Sports Journalist, Commentator, Reporter, and Moderator for Novasports, Euroleague, and Fiba, Greece; Claudia Johana Castro Cifuentes, Editor and Journalist, Prensa Libre newspaper, Guatemala; Anjana Senthil, Chief Sub‑Editor and Correspondent, Sportstar, The Hindu Group of Publications, India; Oshrat Eni, Commentator, National Radio Station and TV Sport Channel, Israel; Rayanne Moussallem, Head of Media and Communications, Last Man Standing, Lebanon; Naomi Yah Tappia, Head of Sports News, Truth FM, Liberia; P Rajessvary Paul Thurai, Editor, Star Media Group, Malaysia; Rocio Yelitza Garcia Monroy, CEO,, Mexico; Limba Mupetami, Sports Journalist, Namibian Sun, Nabimia; Sarita Shrestha, Senior Correspondent and Sports Bureau Chief, Avenues TV, Nepal; Cecilia Omorogbe, Sports Presenter and Producer, Channels Television, Nigeria; Pauline Patricia Verzosa, Sports Correspondent, CNN Philippines; Sureshi Asanthika Gunasekara, Assistant Producer, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, Sri Lanka; Isabel Maria Charlotte Boltenstern, Sports Reporter and TV Host, Discovery Networks Sweden; Nataliia Vernyhora, Head of Press Service, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ukraine.