#ProfilesOfTenacity: William Newlin

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I began my college career as an International Affairs major in SPIA. History, English, political science and economics had always been my favorite subjects, and IA seemed to bring it all together. But as an avid news consumer with a penchant for writing, I realized there was more I wanted to do. Grady allowed me to join a field with colleagues who have goals beyond themselves. I knew it would give me the leeway to find my passion and the opportunity to write with purpose.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity is a willingness to leave your comfort zone to get what you need, whether in your personal life or professional pursuits. In journalism, it’s not backing down in the face of authority. It’s being dogged, nosy and courageous. In life, it’s sticking to your values and reaching for your goals no matter the obstacles. 

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about improving public debate through good journalism. I think the best reporting keeps important issues centered in our collective consciousness and directs attention to topics that might otherwise fall through the cracks. We need to have more fact-based debate in all aspects of American life, and I’m excited to contribute to that throughout my career.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Red & Black. After joining in fall 2019, I immediately found a group of people who both supported me and created the environment of healthy competition that shaped me as a reporter. Over two years of reporting and editing from contributor all the way to managing editor, I honed my writing, fact-finding and storytelling skills. It was the real-world experience I needed to feel confident in my abilities as a professional journalist and leader.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

In March, I presented original research at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Midwinter Conference. The idea originated in a research theory class the previous fall, and I developed my topic and method alongside Dr. Karin Assmann. Focused on the rhetoric of Fox News’ Sean Hannity, I found the data needed for the project, learned to use a new analysis software and wrote a lengthy paper that was accepted by the AEJMC. Despite taking the non-thesis route in my graduate program, I’m excited to leave with a tangible piece of scholarship. My goal is to submit the finished article for publication in a political communication journal.  

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

Find something interesting in every assignment. Even if you’re covering what seems like the driest beat in the world, there are always people, trends and storylines to keep you and your audience engaged. 

Who is your professional hero?

A few people come to mind. As exemplars of my first journalistic passion – sports writing (specifically baseball) – Tony Kornheiser and Jeff Passan are at the top. Their reporting chops and undeniable style continue to inform my approach to writing. I also greatly admire CNN’s Clarissa Ward and NBC’s Richard Engel. They’re in the most important places at the most important times, and I hope to emulate their unflinching courage to whatever extent I can. And if I had to throw in a historical hero, it would have to be Edward R. Murrow. Aside from the obvious reasons, who doesn’t want a catchphrase?

What are you planning to do after obtaining your degree?

I plan to hit the ground running as a reporter. With experience in sports, news and features, I’m excited to get started and adapt to new challenges.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

It might surprise people that I make music – sort of. I play the drums, can strum a guitar, and I’m oddly decent at composing piano music, which I’ve translated into a few songs. Some are on SoundCloud, and some are just for me. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Founders Memorial Garden on North Campus is and always will be my favorite spot. It was my between-classes refuge freshman year and continues to be a peaceful place when I need some quiet time in nature. 

#GradyInternDiaries: Lindsey Conway

Name: Lindsey Conway  

Major: Journalism  

Title of Internship: Investigative Intern 

Company: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cox Media Group

Location: Dunwoody, Georgia  

Responsibilities: As an intern, I helped research, report and write stories for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s investigative team.

What was the best part about your summer internship?

Definitely the people. You would think in a newsroom full of journalists constantly hustling and bustling that there wouldn’t be a lot of time for an intern. But, that wasn’t the case at the AJC. Many extremely talented and experienced journalists would take time out of their days to share knowledge at lunch and learn sessions, and several met privately with me for coffee or lunch. The AJC also assigned each intern a mentor. My mentor would check in on me weekly and give me advice on the investigative story I was attempting to tackle or just talk about how I was doing. I really appreciate each of the reporters and editors who took time to invest in me over the summer.                    

What is the most memorable experience you had during your internship?  

Lindsey Conway works on an assignment in the AJC newsroom as an investigative intern.

I will never forget the endearing smile and joking nature of Ms. Helene Mills, a 90-year-old woman living in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. As an investigative intern, I got to interview Ms. Mills, who was key to showing the impact of the Atlanta Beltline, one of the biggest redevelopment projects in the Southeast, on one of the city’s most impoverish neighborhoods. With property taxes increasing by leaps and bounds in Atlanta over the past few years, people such as Ms. Mills might not be able to remain in their homes. Without enough affordable housing created by the Atlanta Beltline project, Atlanta may become a city for the rich.  

Working on this story opened my eyes to how just how much influence investigative journalism can have. The reporting on the Beltline story brought to light critical failures of the Atlanta Beltline Inc., the entity responsible for redeveloping the city around the Beltline, a 49-mile loop of trails. The story also pushed city officials to consider organizational changes at Beltline Inc.   

What was the biggest surprise in your internship?

I was surprised by the amount of freedom the AJC offered its interns, in terms of experimenting and trying out different skills in the newsroom. As an investigative intern, my primary role was to work with reporters on larger scale projects, but I was also able to pitch my own stories and work with different teams across the newsroom to get a taste of working on quicker turn around stories.  

One of my favorite experiences outside of working on the Beltline project was running around on July 4 interviewing finishers at the AJC Peachtree Road Race. After slowly combing through information for the investigative story, jogging up and down the finish line at the road race and watching out for any breaking news was a welcomed break. These were two very different projects, but each was valuable and taught me to be flexible. 

What is the most valuable lesson or skill you learned during your internship? 

While working on the Beltline project, I worked under an extremely experienced reporter named Willoughby Mariano. I had the privilege of shadowing Willoughby on some of the more critical interviews. Watching her ease the subjects into telling her information was an incredible sight. As I work on my own stories, I try to use some of the same tactics as she did to make my sources feel more comfortable and open up to me. I also shoot to make my interviews last about an hour, per a tip from Willoughby. She says when she hits the hour mark, she knows the source has really warmed up to her and opened up about the topic.

How did your internship help confirm your desired career path or make you re-evaluate what you want to do in the future?  

My internship this summer re-affirmed just how important journalism is to our society and further inspired me to work in this field. Journalists hold powerful people accountable and protect and inform the average citizen. This is what I hope to continue to do in my future as a journalist. I want to use my platform and voice to bring to light injustices and inspire changes that will make this world a little better place to live in.