John Hammel, a fourth-year journalism major, represented Grady College in the National Newspaper Association Foundation’s 2018 News Fellows Program.
In its sixth year, the News Fellow program featured seven top journalism students from around the country who were nominated by their state press associations to participate during NNA’s Community Newspaper Leadership Summit held in Washington, D.C., March 14-15.
This year, the topic was how do the major political parties find ways to work together: “Red State, Blue State; What a State of Affairs!” The students had the opportunity to meet with policymakers, policy influencers and lawmakers during their time in the city. Hammel, for example, interviewed Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. Rob Woodall.
Hammel’s work during the fellowship led to an article recently published in the Red & Black student newspaper.
“Being a National Newspaper Association Foundation Fellow and traveling to Washington was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to meet some great student journalists from other parts of the country and to interview legislators. It was an honor to represent Grady in our nation’s capital,” Hammel said. “I was able to speak to our representatives on some of today’s most pressing and contentious issues, including gun control, which is the focus of my story. After working for The Red & Black in various roles for most of my time here at UGA I’m extremely proud that the last story I have published while an undergrad at Grady will be with The Red & Black.”
Hammel, who is from Lawrenceville, Georgia, was nominated for the program by the Georgia Press Association and sponsored by Grady’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership.
“The News Fellow program is a wonderful training opportunity for promising journalism students and we are extremely happy to work with the Georgia Press Association and the NNA to see that students such as John get to participate,” said Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute. “John represents our third NNA Fellow in six years and we look forward to supporting future Grady students who qualify for this program.”
Lauren McDonald, now a reporter at The Brunswick News, was Grady’s NNA Fellow in 2016 and Kelsey Kent, a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas Law School, was Grady’s NNA Fellow in 2013.
The program provided the student with a full schedule. On their first day, the students had a news briefing with Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation at the group’s headquarters. After that, they met with Donna Murphy from Better Angles, a citizen’s group focused on facilitating communication across political differences. The next day, the students traveled to the Newseum for a briefing by Jan Neuharth, chair and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, and for a tour of the Newseum by Shelby Coffey III, vice chair of the Newseum.
After the tour, the students went over to Capitol Hill for their scheduled visits with their representatives or their staffs. Later in the day, they attended a briefing by Reps. David Trott, R-MI and Debbie Dingell, D-MI, at The Capitol Club. Once the briefing concluded, they returned to their congressional visits. That evening, the students gathered at the National Press Club for dinner and to hear the summit’s keynote speaker—Lally Weymouth, senior associate editor of the Washington Post, and the daughter of former Washington Post publishers Donald Graham and Katherine Graham.
The next day, the students made their way to the Gallup building for a briefing about data on how and where the nation is split but also on issues where it seems more united.
They finished their time in Washington with a lunch meeting with the NNA board to talk about their experiences with the News Fellows Program.
Stan Schwartz of the NNA contributed material for this story.