Grady Gratitude: Richard & Debbie Griffiths—committed to helping the public understand truth in journalism
Increasing public understanding of the journalism process while making a meaningful impact in the state of Georgia are goals important to Richard and Debbie Griffiths. These goals also made their donation to Grady College in support of its Trusting News partnership an easy decision.
“This has been an ongoing issue: how do we maintain public trust in the institutions that have traditionally provided news and how are news institutions meeting high editorial standards? We are happy to see Grady College doing important work to take the research and ideas about building on trust and getting that out to institutions that may not otherwise have access to analysis and expertise,” Richard Griffiths said about why they are supporting the program.
Trusting News works with news outlets to find out what news consumers trust and research strategies to build trust. Grady College joined Trusting News as a partner in fall of 2018 to train and lead outreach programs for newspapers and television stations in Georgia. Grady College supplies the trainers which consist of faculty and students, and the funds support the costs associated with training, tools and research needed to help media outlets learn best practices and credibility initiatives.
“Trust is the most important issue facing journalism today, and we’re proud to be playing a leading role in finding solutions,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “We are grateful to Richard and Debbie for contributing to this important training.”
The challenges journalists face are well known to Richard. He was vice president and senior editorial director of CNN when he retired in 2017, and he is president emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
From the time Richard first heard about the program at a Georgia Press Association meeting, it was an initiative that resonated with him.
“We talk a lot about Media literacy and the importance of having the public understand the value of a free and independent press,” Richard continued. “A big part of what news organizations need to do is help the public understand that. It has to be an open process and they public has to understand how each piece works.”
“By supporting this program, we are hoping it will be very inexpensive for those small institutions to have access to the kind of training that Grady can provide and to free those institutions from worrying about the money so they can focus on the message and expertise.” — Richard Griffiths
In addition to his financial contributions, Richard has spent time in the past few months leading trust in news training sessions in several European countries where newsroom journalism is under threat.
Richard has been involved with Grady College in other ways, too. In addition to his daughter, Hanna Griffiths Rihner (ABJ ’11), being a Grady graduate, Griffiths has donated his time to the college serving on the Board of Trust and as a 2017 Cox Institute Industry Fellow. His talents are also on display with his “No Obstruction to Free Speech” mobile which hangs in the 5th floor of Grady College. Griffiths was inducted into the 2019 class of the Grady Fellowship in 2019. He also recently supported the Cox Innovation Fellowship, helping to financially support summer interns and the Cox Innovation Fellowship.
Plans are being made for not only traditional training sessions by Grady College faculty but also a program tentatively called Grady Digital Natives, where students will be sent to newsrooms to share best practices about social media outreach. This program is expected to be launched over the holiday break this year.
“Journalism is a terrific skill, but it is not magic. It is huge amount of work and there is a lot of misunderstanding how it works—for instance, how sourcing works and why a media outlet takes on a story. This Trusting News program through Grady College is one more way of helping the public understand the process,” Richard concluded.
Editor’s note: please visit our Grady Gratitude webpage to view other profiles.