NewsCraft20: Schedule Announced for Covering Culture

NewsCraft20: Schedule Announced for Covering Culture

January 22, 2020

What: NewsCraft 20 – Covering Culture   

When: February 7, 2020

Where: Studio 100 (first floor of the Grady College)

The theme of NewsCraft 20, a reporting and writing workshop, is “covering culture.” We selected this theme to highlight a type of journalism that reflects society’s insatiable interest in entertainment and lifestyle topics and to illustrate the variety of journalism careers that involve “covering culture.”  The following is a schedule of presenters and their topic areas. 

NewsCraft 20 is part of the “Cox Institute Presents” lecture series sponsored by the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership in coordination with the William S. Morris Chair for News Strategy and Management.

10:10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Session 1 – Religion

Presenter: Lori Johnston, Grady College

Lori Johnston is an award-winning journalist who has covered religion for a variety of top media outlets, including The Associated Press, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her religion reporting over 25 years has focused on the intersection of faith with politics and culture. She’s covered breaking news about church shootings, sexual abuse, evangelicals and trends in religious identity, and national stories about figures including President Donald Trump and former President George H.W. Bush. She’s interviewed musicians and authors in the Christian music and book publishing industries as well as leaders, laypeople and activists representing the world’s major religions. Johnston is a lecturer at the Grady College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism (Class of 1995) and MFA in narrative nonfiction writing (Class of 2017). In fall 2020, she will teach a special topics class on Religion Reporting.

11:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. Session 2 – Celebrity

Presenter: Nick Chiles, Grady College

Nick Chiles is the Cox Institute’s Industry Fellow for 2020 and Grady Journalism’s writing coach. He has distinguished himself as one of the nation’s foremost chroniclers of African-American life, culture and celebrity. He is the author or co-author of 14 books, including three New York Times bestsellers he wrote with R&B icon Bobby Brown, civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and gospel legend Kirk Franklin. He is the co-author with Atlanta attorney Robbin Shipp of the book Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System, which was a finalist for a 2015 NAACP Image Award. Chiles was a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, and magazine and website editor-in-chief during his years in journalism, winning nearly 20 major awards—including a 1992 Pulitzer Prize as part of a New York Newsday team. He has been a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and taught at Princeton as the prestigious Ferris Fellowship. He is a graduate of Yale University. 

1:25 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Session 3 – Food


Presenter: Tanya Sichynsky, The Washington Post

Tanya Sichynsky is a newsletter editor at The Washington Post and the author of Meal Plan of Action, a 12-week email series that helps readers plan, prep and cook more efficiently. In 2019, Meal Plan of Action won the Association of Food Journalists award for best food column. Previously, she worked as an embedded audience editor on both the Post’s Style and the Financial desks. She has also held roles on the core social team, on the Snapchat Discover team and on the Financial desk. Before joining The Post, she was a social media editor at USA Today Sports. Sichynsky is a Class of 2014 Grady grad and was the first student to earn the Grady Certificate in Sports Media.

2:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. Session 4 – Lifestyle

Presenter: Laura James, Discovery Inc.

Laura James is the commerce editor for home and travel with Discovery, Inc., formerly Scripps Networks Interactive. She produces original articles and photo galleries on trending travel and design topics for and She has been in her current role for about five months after serving as assistant editor.  James began with the company as an editorial intern for and also contributed to the company’s Previously, she worked as a writer for Fast Copy News Service, producing content for various lifestyle products and sections of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also interned with Flagpole, an Athens-based alternative weekly newspaper. James is a Class of 2015 Grady grad with emphases in magazine and visual journalism. She also earned the New Media Certificate.