Grady students blend passion and skill writing for Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog

To many college students, it’s a dream job: monitor Twitter for story leads and write about college football. The fact that it is a paid position and that the work will be posted on the sports blog of one of the largest daily newspapers in the country makes it just about perfect.

That opportunity is reality for a group of Grady College students who have been selected to write blogs about SEC football this season for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s College Football Insider blog.

Freelance writer Andy Johnston (ABJ ‘88), co-owner of Fast Copy Communications, has been writing the College Football Insider blog for the AJC for two years and has been tasked with coaching students on the style of blog writing.

“We are trying to teach them how to be conversational in their writing—to have a little fun and to find their voice,” Johnston said.

The students who are selected to participate are assigned an SEC team to follow via social media. Once they identify a topic, which can range from injuries and transfers to commentary about the best running backs in the conference, the student writers check in to make sure their subject isn’t already being covered. They are then expected to write a blog post approximately 200 words in length and post it within 30-45 minutes. The students are asked to average writing one blog a day.

“They need to have the facts and they need to provide context and even some opinion,” Johnston continued. “We want to build on what Grady is teaching them, but yet fit their knowledge and those tools into what we want to accomplish.”

Andy Johnston (right) mentors Evan Greenberg about writing for the AJC college football blog.

“These kids are so passionate not only about sports but about journalism that it doesn't take much to get them motivated,” continued Johnston about the students, many of whom are in the Grady Sports Media program.

Kaitlin Long, a third-year Grady student studying digital broadcast journalism, is just starting out in the program and is hoping to expand her knowledge of the sports media industry.

“A lot of what we have learned in class correlates with what is going in the industry,” Long said about her Grady classes. “It is actually real-life experience in the classes and a lot of majors don’t have that. Here they mesh so easily. A lot of what I’m learning in classes is what I’m applying to this opportunity.”

Samples of the writing of some of the Grady student bloggers include:

•    Derek Mason: ‘I don’t accept losing. I don’t believe in it,’ by Ryan Tourial

•    Top five SEC offensive linemen in 2015, by Damian Williams

•    Top five SEC wide receivers in 2015, by Evan Greenberg

None of the Grady College writers are assigned to the Georgia football team since the AJC has beat writers already assigned to Georgia. 

Date: September 4, 2015
Author:  Sarah Freeman,