Cox Institute’s eBook from The Lead Podcast Wins Gold Medals

This story was originally published on the Cox Institute page here.

An eBook featuring excerpts of interviews from The Lead podcast won two gold medals in the 2020 eLit Book Awards competition, which recognizes excellence in digital publishing.

The eBook entitled News Leadership: Conversations about Journalism and its Future was released by Kendall Hunt Publishing in December as a project of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership, which also produces the podcast.

News Leadership received its first gold medal in a current events category for political, economic, legal and media topics. The eBook received its second gold medal in the category recognizing best use of multimedia.

“It was a pleasure to be able to synthesize important leadership and ethical concepts into an interactive tool for journalism students and educators,” said Charlotte Norsworthy, the Cox Institute’s Morris Master’s Fellow, who was the eBook’s lead editor. “By making these concepts more accessible, we are able to better equip students entering a fluctuating news industry.”

The eLit Books Awards, in their eleventh year, are a global awards program open to all members of the electronic publishing industry. The contest is presented by Jenkins Group Inc., a Michigan-based book publishing and marketing services company that has operated the popular Independent Publisher Book Awards contest since 1996. Electronic books written in English and created for the global marketplace were eligible for entry in 65 categories.

News Leadership features insights from established professionals and emerging thought leaders gleaned from their candid conversations with student hosts, including Norsworthy. Their insights offer advice, provide context, and create a sense of optimism for an industry grappling with transformative disruption.

The Lead podcast debuted in the Fall 2016 semester with Daniel Funke as its original student host for the first two semester-length seasons. Nate Bramel and Noelle Lashley took over hosting responsibilities for seasons three and four and Norsworthy led seasons five, six and seven.  In the upcoming season eight, which will debut during the fall semester, Norsworthy moves into the producer’s chair and will direct the episodes featuring the new student host, Caroline Odom.

Guests from The Lead who are featured in the eBook include Pulitzer Prize winners Alex Jones and Nick Chiles, Peabody Award winner Bob Sullivan, local television news legend Monica Kaufman-Pearson and renowned journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. They are among the dozens of guests who share valuable words of advice with the student hosts and their audiences.

“The Lead podcast has evolved into an important educational resource for presenting insights into the leadership challenges confronting the news media,” said Keith Herndon, the Cox Institute’s director and co-editor of the eBook. “We are excited for this work to be recognized with these eLit Book Awards.”

News Leadership can be purchased through Kendall Hunt at

Kendall Hunt Publishing is a family owned and operated publishing company celebrating a 75-years history. The company has an immense library of course content with over 10,000 print and digital titles. For more information about the publisher, visit:

Norsworthy and Herndon recorded a special bonus episode of The Lead featuring a discussion on the book’s production, which was posted with the book’s release. The episode can be heard here.

‘The Lead’ podcast wins first place in SPJ Regional Awards

The Society of Professional Journalists recognized Grady’s The Lead Podcast and its host Charlotte Norsworthy as among the best of collegiate journalism for Region 3 in 2019.

The Lead podcast received first place in the Mark of Excellence Awards competition for the region, which comprises student journalists from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. First-place winners will compete at the national level among other winners from the 12 SPJ regions.

“It’s been such a rewarding experience to take The Lead podcast to new heights over the past two years as host,” Norsworthy said. “I am so grateful to have grown as a journalist alongside the podcast.”

The Grady College’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership produces the podcast. It debuted in the Fall 2016 semester with Daniel Funke as its original student host for the first two semester-length seasons. Nate Bramel and Noelle Lashley took over hosting responsibilities for seasons three and four and Norsworthy led seasons five, six and seven, and continues as its current host.

Guests on The Lead have included Pulitzer Prize winners Alex Jones and Nick Chiles, Peabody Award winners Bob Sullivan and Randy Travis, local television news legend Monica Kaufman-Pearson and renowned journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. They are among the dozens of guests who have share valuable advice with Grady’s journalism students who are the podcast’s target audience. 

“We created The Lead podcast to provide another platform for engaging with the many exceptional guests who visit Grady,” said Keith Herndon, the Cox Institute’s director. “This award, however, reflects how Charlotte Norsworthy has used the podcast to demonstrate and showcase excellent journalistic interviewing techniques.”

Norsworthy will be completing her master’s degree in the fall semester and is moving into the producer’s chair for the Fall 2020 season, which means the Cox Institute is searching for its next student host.  Applications for the position are open through April 10 on UGA’s Handshake. 

The SPJ also recognized the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper The Red & Black as the region’s best all around non-daily newspaper, and one of its reporters, Grady student Anila Yoganathan, won first place in general news reporting for a series on diversity at the university. 

Grady’s SPJ Wins Outstanding Chapter for Region 3

This story was originally published by the Cox Institute. 

The Grady College’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) was recognized as the outstanding student chapter in Region Three for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The Society honors a select group of campus chapters for their outstanding work in supporting the group’s missions, members and journalism. Each year, SPJ’s 12 regional coordinators and directors select campus chapters that have shown overall excellence. UGA’s chapter was selected from a regional group of more than a dozen chapters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“We are thrilled to receive such an honor,” said Ashlyn Webb, a Grady senior and the chapter’s president for the 2019 year. “Our executive board has been dedicated to bringing resources in for Grady student journalists to excel in their academic and professional careers.”

Savannah Peat, a 2019 Grady graduate who was the chapter president during the 2018 year, said serving in a leadership role “was a lot of work, and a lot of fun, and earning this title makes it all the more worth it.” Peat, who is now a news producer at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, NM, said she hopes those who came to the meetings learned important fundamentals about journalism that they will carry with them throughout their careers.

Grady’s chapter is governed by a student executive board elected for a calendar year, while the SPJ award recognizes an outstanding chapter for an academic year. The executive board for 2018 in addition to Peat included: Amy Scott (vice president), Maddie Ray (executive planner), Ashlyn Webb (marketing director) and Casey Rose (social media director). The executive board for 2019 in addition to Webb includes: Kelly Mayes (vice president), Joshua Tillman (executive planner) and Amy Scott (social media and marketing director).

The Grady SPJ chapter is operated in partnership with the student chapter of the Online News Association (ONA) and both are financially sponsored by Grady’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership. Dr. Keith Herndon, who is the Cox Institute director, also served as the student chapter adviser from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019. Grady’s Dr. Amanda Bright is the current chapter adviser.

“The student leaders deserve all of the credit for this award,” Herndon said. “It’s not easy to plan and execute quality programming for a volunteer organization. They are to be commended for a lot of hard work and dedication.”

Webb said the chapter intends to keep up the good work the award recognizes by featuring programs on topics including technology trends, ethical issues, media law and more. Peat added, “I’m so excited, thinking about future SPJ members being part of such an outstanding chapter.”

Students interested in joining ONA and SPJ at UGA can contact the organizations at

Keith Herndon named Morris Chair

Keith Herndon (ABJ ’82), a professor of practice in journalism, has been named to the William S. Morris Chair in News Strategy and Management by the dean of Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Keith Herndon is an innovator, an academic entrepreneur who works tirelessly on behalf of Grady students,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “I am delighted to see him uphold the proud legacy of the Morris Chair, which traces its roots to the legendary Conrad Fink. This is an important time for building leadership in journalism, as we work with our colleagues in the profession to help create new ways of producing and monetizing the work we do—and I can’t think of a better person to spearhead these efforts at Grady College.”

Herndon is the third professor to hold the Morris Chair. The late Conrad Fink, a legendary Grady professor, was the initial Morris Chair. He was followed by Professor Kent Middleton, who was head of the journalism department and is now professor emeritus.  The program began in 1995 as a named professorship and was elevated to an endowed chair in 2005.

William S. Morris III established the chair in memory of his late father, William S. Morris Jr., who joined the Augusta Chronicle as a bookkeeper in 1929 and rose through the ranks to publisher. He became the controlling partner in 1945 and developed the company into one of Georgia’s leading communications organizations.

Herndon takes pride in the history of the chair: “We honor the legacy of those represented by this chair—its namesake, its creator and the professors who held it—by moving forward with the challenge of training a next generation of news leaders who are prepared to defend the news media’s vital role in our democracy.”

Funding provided by the endowment will be used to expand graduate education in the area of news strategy and management through new academic and applied research initiatives. These plans include a new doctoral research fellowship and a new master’s level graduate assistantship.  Plans also include expanding Herndon’s collaborations and projects with UGA’s Fanning Institute for Leadership Development in the areas of strategic and ethical leadership.

Herndon will continue as director of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership where he leads the Cox Institute Leaders program and the Grady Mobile News Lab.   Herndon, a Grady alumnus from the class of 1982, first taught at Grady as a lecturer in fall 2011. He returned the following year as a visiting professor and held that position until joining the full-time faculty in 2016. Herndon earned a Master of Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 1997 and completed a Ph.D. in Media and Information from Australia’s Curtin University in 2011.

Prior to teaching at Grady, he ran his own media and technology consulting firm and taught part-time at Kennesaw State University.  Previously, he worked at Cox Enterprises’ Internet division, serving as Vice President of Operations and Vice President for Planning and Product Development. He managed strategic partnerships and led technical diligence on Cox’s new media investments, serving on the board of directors of an investment recipient. He was also Director of Operations at Cox Radio Interactive, a pioneer in streaming media. Herndon began his career while at Grady, working as a reporter for his hometown paper in Elberton, Georgia, and then as a sportswriter for the Anderson (South Carolina) Independent and the Athens Banner-Herald. After graduation, he was a Pulliam Journalism Fellow with The Indianapolis News.  He was a business reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before becoming assistant business editor, deputy business editor and administrative editor.  Herndon is the author of “The Decline of the Daily Newspaper: How an American Institution Lost the Online Revolution” (Peter Lang, 2012). He also has published two business books about entrepreneurship and innovation.

Fanning Institute and Grady Faculty Explain Collaboration in Innovative Practice Paper

Faculty from the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication presented an innovative practice paper at this year’s annual conference of the Association of Leadership Educators in Chicago.

Herndon and Walker watch as McCline presents during the Association of Leadership Educators conference.

The presentation resulted from an ongoing collaboration between the Fanning Institute’s Brandy Walker and Rich McCline and Grady’s Keith Herndon.  Walker and McCline developed Q-Perspectives®, a proprietary tool for teaching key leadership theories. Herndon was an early adopter of the tool in his course called Managing News Organizations.

“Teaching leadership theory in a management course can be a daunting undertaking because you want the students to grasp the scope and depth of the material, but you don’t want it to take over the entire semester,” explained Herndon, director of the James M. Cox Jr Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership. “The tool developed by my colleagues at Fanning presented an efficient solution for engaging the students in deeper reflection of the material.”

Walker, the principle architect of the tool, explained that sharing leadership theories is challenging given the vast amount of publications that propose to share guiding principles, best practices, intervention techniques and other insights on leadership development and training.

“We have taken the often under-utilized Q methodology and used it to create a leadership teaching exercise that actually encourages participants to construct their own sense of leadership theory,” Walker said. “They are drawing from the insights of established theories, but are unrestricted by just one framework they might choose to adopt or the instructor might favor.”

Fanning developed the tool with game theory in mind and offers it as a flexible and versatile tool that can be used in face-to-face, online or in flipped classroom settings. The tool provides real-time analyses of results and generates individual and group worksheets for encouraging further discussion.

“Our tool offers a powerful alternative to surveys and traditional statistical analyses of participants’ perspectives,” said McCline. “We allow participants’ voices to emerge and coalesce across the wide-ranging net of leadership theories.”

Walker, McCline and their team have further refined the tool and its processes over the past year, and Herndon is looking forward to using it again during the fall semester. “This tool allows for a dynamic construction of a student’s personal perception of important leadership competencies,” he said. “It will be the catalyst for another round of robust discussions.”

For additional information on Q-Perspectives® or to arrange demo of the online version, please contact Brandy Walker at