Cox International Center welcomes young Georgian journalists for digital media training

From March 28 to April 8, 21 early-to-mid-career journalists from the country Georgia are at Grady College taking classes in the area of digital media. 

Following a week at Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, the young group of international journalists is now spending two weeks in Athens, studying multi-platform storytelling, media engineering, convergence in the newsroom, execution of fact-checking operations and new trends in media business models.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Georgia Media Education Program (MEP) is a partnership between the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research and the New Media Institute, both units of Grady College, along with Poynter Institute.

Tudor Vlad moderates discussion between Georgian journalists and Grady students.
Tudor Vlad moderates the discussion between Georgian journalists and Grady students. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

“We are very happy that this program, funded by a grant awarded to the Cox International Center in 2019, is finally taking place,” said Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox Center. “In the last three years, we’ve planned and rescheduled the visit of the Georgian journalists many times, due to COVID restrictions. Now, after five days at the Poynter Institute in Florida, our guests are here in Grady College for two weeks.”

Listening to lectures and participating in discussions in Grady classrooms, the international journalists are reviewing how storytelling has been impacted in the digital era, how U.S. media organizations work and develop new business models, how to effectively use social media platforms, how to transition from print to digital storytelling, the role of media in the process of democratization in transitional societies, and the relationship between media and government in emerging democracies. 

“It’s a great experience,” said Rusudan Panozishvili, a freelance journalist from Georgia participating in the program. “We are meeting really experienced professionals. We also are gaining some practical, hands-on experience. It’s overwhelming to be on this huge campus, which is really impressive.” 

Rusudan Panozishvili speakes to Grady students during March 31 lunch.
Rusudan Panozishvili speaks to Grady students during March 31 lunch. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder.)

During the day, the student group participates in courses taught by Amanda Bright, a journalism professor and the director of the Cox Institute Journalism Innovation Lab, Leah Moss, an instructor and the emerging media faculty advisor at the New Media Institute, John Weatherford, senior lecturer in emerging media studies and the New Media Institute, and David Hazinski, professor emeritus. 

The Georgian journalists certainly are not the only ones benefiting from this visit. On March 31, the group also participated in a lunch in Grady’s Peyton Anderson Forum with a cohort of current Grady students. The Grady students were awarded the opportunity to ask the Georgian group a series of questions about their country and professional experiences.

 “We think that their presence in our school is beneficial to them and also to our students, who have the opportunity to learn about media in emerging democracies in the former Soviet space,” Vlad explained.


Alexander, Castengera, Hazinski, Tinkham retire

Collectively, they represent 111 years.

That’s 111 years of educating students, collaborating with colleagues, sharing knowledge with peers, cheering on alumni after graduation and making Grady College a better place to work and learn. There are bittersweet feelings as we wish Alison Alexander, Michael Castengera, David Hazinski and Spencer Tinkham the best in their retirements.

Alison Alexander most recently served as Grady College’s senior associate of academic affairs, a position she has held since 2007.

Alison Alexander in the mid-1990s. Photo: Craig Poole

“It’s safe to say that were it not for Alison, I’d still be searching for the most basic answers about how to do my job,” Dean Charles Davis said. “She has been my touchstone on all things academic, providing such wise counsel and most recently guiding us seamlessly through the accreditation process. To say she’ll be missed fails to do her justice.”

Alexander joined Grady College in 1991 following teaching positions at the University of Massachusetts and TA positions at Ohio State University. Her research specialties have been in children’s television and audience research, and she has authored several books including “Taking Sides: Controversial Issues in Mass Media and Society” a book she co-edited with Jarice Hanson through 12 reprints. She served as editor of the “Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media” from 1989 to 1991, and also served on several university committees, including chair of the University Admissions Committee since 2010.

Michael Castengera and David Hazinski built Newsource into the learning laboratory that has served countless journalism students through the years.

Michael Castengera (r.) accepts the Darwin Davis Award for demonstrating the Grady spirit, from then Dean Cully Clark in April 2010.

Castengera, a senior lecturer, retired in December 2017.

“Michael taught his students how to be professionals and continually raised the bar with what he expected,” said Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism, and head of the Department of Journalism.

Before his time in academia, Castengera spent more than 25 years as a professional journalist, including 5 years in newspaper reporting, followed by more than 20 years in broadcast news, mostly in news and station management. He brought his experiences in the field and his fascination with how politics is portrayed in the news to the classroom and to Newsource, which he helped produce for several years.

He continues to work in retirement as a station management consultant.

For 31 years, Hazinski has been a professor of Grady College, teaching digital and broadcast journalism.

“David has built Newsource from scratch, from spit and baling wire, and built it to be one of the premier broadcast centers in the country,” Hume said during a ceremony in April recognizing him as the Department of Journalism Teacher of the Year. “He is a force of nature and I cannot imagine Grady without him.”

David Hazinski in 1988, a year after he started teaching at Grady College.

Hazinski is a Kennedy Professor of New Media and was named this past spring a Top Journalism Educator by NewsPro Magazine. Hazinski also serves as the CEO of Intelligent Media Consultants, an international communications consulting and training company that has launched more than a dozen national television channels, including the first private and 24/7 news channels in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Prior to joining Grady College, he was the originating co-host, writer and technology advisor for “World Business Review with Caspar Weinberger,” and he served as an international correspondent for NBC News, based in New York, London, Washington, and then Atlanta. Hazinski holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Duquesne University and a master’s degree in educational communications and technology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Spencer Tinkham, professor of advertising, has worked at Grady College for 37 years. Over the years, he has spent time teaching undergraduate courses in advertising research methods, management and campaigns. He has also taught graduate-level courses in advanced communication research and quantitative data analysis.

Spencer Tinkham and graduate student, Mary Lynn Hanily (PhD ’93), in 1993.

“Spencer Tinkham has been a devoted mentor to graduate students and junior faculty,” said Bryan Reber, head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “He has been the go-to guy for any sticky quantitative research problem.  His advertising and political communication research have been very influential in those fields.  Perhaps most importantly, Spencer is one of the nicest guys on the planet.  He has been a departmental treasure these 37 years and we will miss him deeply.”

Prior to joining the faculty of Grady College, Tinkham taught in the Marketing Department of Columbia University Graduate School of Business, at the University of Illinois and as a visiting professor at the University of Florida. His research focusing on political communication, especially message and audience factors in persuasion, has earned him national attention including a ranking in the top 25 academic advertising researchers in the Journal of Advertising.

David Hazinski named a Top 10 Journalism Educator

David Hazinski, an associate professor in journalism at Grady College, was named one of 10 NewsPro Noteworthy Journalism Educators by Crain NewsPro.

This year’s honorees were recognized for their outstanding work and were nominated by NewsPro readers and members of the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Broadcast Education Association.

“It’s nice to see NewsPro–a leading publication in the broadcast news business–publicly declare that which we at Grady College always have known: that David Hazinski is an innovator and a leader in higher education,’ said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “David is a joy to work with, a rare mix of the classroom and the newsroom, with a personality as big as this building. His students and his former students always, always stop me just to tell me what he means to them.”

Hazinski, a new media professor at the University of Georgia, specializes in digital and broadcast news. He owns Intelligent Media Consultants, which helps to launch eight TV networks around the world, including Aaj Tak, CNN-IBN in India and GEO TV in Pakistan.

Prior to working at Grady College, Hazinski served as an international correspondent for NBC News for six years and a reporter for TV stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh. He spent two years as a writer, co-host and technology advisor of the international syndicated World Business Review with Casper Weinberger, the secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan.

In addition, Hazinski has trained national news anchors and reporters such as ESPN anchor Maria Taylor and Fox News correspondent Will Carr. He has been appointed a Senior Teaching Fellow, and holds a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship, the university’s highest teaching award.

Hazinksi has announced his retirement at the end of this academic year.