Grady alumna teaches workshops in Vietnam

The power of networking is a huge lesson that is emphasized to the students at Grady College. It’s not every day that a former professor asks an alumna to go to Vietnam to lead workshops for a television station, but for Sheeka Sanahori, that is just what happened.

Michael Castengera, who retired last December from teaching journalism, was contacted by a representative from the Television Network of Vietnam looking for recommendations of people that could help VTV with specific training. Castengera has worked with VTV on a large production company in Ho Chi Minh City called Dien Quan Media and Entertainment for five years.

The request prompted Castengera think of people Grady graduates that he knew who could do a good job at these workshops. He looked up their background through a Facebook group that has more than 500 Grady alumni in it.

“When you do that with a group like this, you find out that there are a number of Grady grads who have become major “movers and shakers” in the industry and it is astounding,” Castengera said. He recommended Sheeka Sanahori (ABJ’ 06) along with a few others, because he has seen the work that they have done after graduating from Grady.

Sanahori spent two weeks away from her job at USA Today teaching three workshops in Vietnam on creating trailers and teasers for both news and programming to VTV employees.

The first workshop that Sanahori taught was a class for news and programming employees in Ho Chi Minh City. The second workshop, located in Hanoi, was the same workshop but it was geared toward news professionals. The last workshop was for VTV employees that work in the programming division.

Interpreter (right) sitting with Sheeka Sanahori (middle) having lunch with an employee of VTV’s training management division getting ready for a class in Ho Chi Minh City.

“The biggest challenge was getting a crash course in Vietnamese culture,” Sanahori said. “This was my first time in Vietnam, let alone teaching workshops there. Some marketing and video strategies that work in America simply wouldn’t fly in Vietnam. I made sure to let the workshop participants know that at the beginning of my workshops that some of my examples will work for them, and some of them may not.”

Sanahori learned from everyone she met while working with VTV. By going over to Vietnam and being immersed into the culture, she was able to learn a lot about the food, history and their news and entertainment offerings.

The courses Sanahori took at Grady, especially her experience with Newsource, taught her the value of hard work. Sanahori said that those lessons have been imperative for every step throughout her career.

“VTV’s news channels are producing sophisticated, globally-focused reporting,” Sanahori said. “Their entertainment channels produce content that are both thoughtful and interesting. I approached this as an opportunity to learn from them as much as they learned from me, and that’s absolutely what I experienced.”

Castengera, through his consulting work with VTV, has also been involved with workshops in India and Pakistan. His company grew out of the work he did with Audience Research and Development, one of the largest consulting firms in America. Castengera left the company and went out on his own after joining the university. In Vietnam, his focus was on producing a multi-platform material that would work in the multimedia/transmedia world.

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.