New podcast spotlights Grady College’s research and expertise

As podcasts continue to grow as a popular form of media, it is only fitting that the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication would turn to audio storytelling to help highlight its research and expertise.

The new Grady Research Radio podcast, which debuted on Sept. 7, 2022, and is recorded in the podcast studio Studio Not Found, features concise conversations with faculty members at Grady College and shines a light on their research and proficiencies, as well as the College’s labs. 

Four students and two faculty pose for a picture in Utah in front of a grove of trees with a mountain in the background.
Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva (second from right) took a small group of students to the Journalism Solutions Summit in Utah.

The podcast’s debut episode covered the news of Grady being named one of the nation’s inaugural solutions journalism hubs by the Solutions Journalism Network. It features interviews with Grady faculty and solutions journalism experts Dr. Amanda Bright, Dr. Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva, who explained what Grady College is currently doing in research, instruction and outreach to advance solutions journalism, what the new designation means, and how students, educators and professionals in the region can get involved.

“There’s so much happening on campus that we never hear about,” said Vassileva. “A podcast that spreads the word across silos could advance solutions journalism beyond what we can achieve on our own. It could spark new ideas for collaboration.”

The solutions journalism episode was soon followed by one on Grady’s Brain, Body and Media (BBAM) Lab, a lab directed by assistant professor of advertising Dr. Glenna Read used to research psychophysiological reactions to different forms of media and messages. In the lab, researchers can attach sensors to subjects to track how they respond to audio and visual stimuli. Many of the studies conducted in the lab monitor participants by using electrodes that measure activity in the heart, movement of facial muscles on the forehead or around the eyes, and electrodermal activity, or sweat glands, on the hands. The lab also uses electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain wave activity.

Photo of participant having wires put on his head to detect his responses to media and messages in the BBAM Lab.
The BBAM Lab supports research investigating cognitive and emotional processing of audio and visual media. (Photo: Submitted)

Similarly, the podcast’s third episode sheds light on the new Qualitative Research Lab at Grady College, where graduate and undergraduate students can pursue research focusing on qualitative, non-numerical data. It features a conversation with Dr. Karin Assmann, an assistant professor in the Journalism Department at Grady College and the director of the Qualitative Research Lab. In the episode, Dr. Assmann explains what goes on in her lab, speaks about recent studies conducted in the lab, and offers insight into how those interested can get involved.

The fourth and fifth episodes zero in on the 2022 general elections in the state of Georgia. The fourth episode features a conversation with Dr. David Clementson, an assistant professor in Public Relations at Grady College and a political communication researcher, about the state of political debates. The fifth includes a discussion with Joseph Watson, Jr., the Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Grady College, about political advertisements.

 “Grady College has many tremendous researchers who work really hard to run studies and collect data answering tough questions and addressing huge phenomena that affect our lives,” said Clementson. “The Grady Research Radio podcast is a great way for professors’ studies to translate to the general public in a fun, conversational and approachable way. I love listening to the podcast and learning more about my own colleagues who are working hard on impactful research.” 

Shira Chess holding up a cake designed to look like her book Ready Player 2.
Shira Chess cutting the cake during a celebration for the release of “Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity” in 2017. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

The sixth and most recent episode focuses on the field of game studies and features an interview with Dr. Shira Chess, an associate professor in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies (EMST), a game studies researcher, and the author of books including “Play Like a Feminist” and “Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity.” Dr. Chess discusses her research, why video games may not get the attention they deserve, and what the future may hold for the field. 

Grady Research Radio is hosted and produced by Jackson Schroeder, the public relations specialist at Grady College. It is generally released biweekly, and a complete list of episodes can be found here.

Podcast: How Grady College will approach being one of nation’s first solutions journalism hubs

Listen to Grady Research Radio
Apple Podcasts/Spotify/Stitcher


At the beginning of August, the Solutions Journalism Network named Grady College one of the nation’s first solutions journalism hubs, a designation given to only three other colleges in the United States. In this role, Grady College’s Department of Journalism will be tasked with continuing to serve as an incubator for creativity, innovation and research in solutions journalism and function as a resource for students and professionals in the region who are interested in the field.

To further unpack what this designation means, solutions journalism experts Dr. Amanda Bright, director of the Cox Institute Journalism Innovation Lab, Dr. Kyser Lough, an assistant professor in Journalism, and Ralitsa Vassileva, a lecturer in Journalism, were recently interviewed as a part of Grady College’s Grady Research Radio podcast

Below is a transcription of the podcast, edited for clarity and brevity. 

Grady College: What is solutions journalism, and why is there a need for it? A quote from Kyser Lough about the definition of solutions journalism.

Kyser Lough: Well, solutions journalism is a method of reporting where the reporter goes out and, instead of just reporting on the problems communities are facing, they also look for what people are doing about it. 

It’s not advocacy. It’s not opinion journalism. The journalist is not creating the solution. They are simply using their same set of journalistic skills and tools to go out and report on what’s being done in response to a problem. 

It was kind of born out of this idea that we sometimes focus too much on problems. I mean, it’s good. We have to uncover and thoroughly define the problems a community is facing. That’s a very important purpose of journalism. But if we only focus on that, then all we’re showing our readers is that, you know, it’s just doom and gloom all the time, and we know that’s not true. We know there are people out there trying to address these problems. So why aren’t we reporting on that, too?

A lot of people just call it just good journalism. I think putting a name on it was important to help really define what it is, but at the end of the day, it’s something a lot of journalists have been doing. It’s just that we feel a lot of folks haven’t been doing it enough.

Grady College: Amanda Bright explained that solutions journalism entered the curricula at the college roughly four years ago as a very small piece of the capstone undergraduate reporting classes in journalism. Since then, though, solutions journalism has become a part of every undergraduate capstone class. At this point, every journalism student at Grady College leaves with knowledge in some practical application of solutions journalism. 

Many student-made solutions journalism pieces are available online at Gradynewsource.uga.edu. While looking through some of those pieces, I noticed that they are far from your standard text-based news stories. The students who make the pieces often weave in both audio and visual components. So, I asked Ralitsa Vassileva about teaching multimedia solutions journalism storytelling in her classes. 

Four students and two faculty pose for a picture in Utah in front of a grove of trees with a mountain in the background.
Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva (second from right) took a small group of students to the Journalism Solutions Summit in Utah.

Ralitsa Vassileva: In my sustainability multiplatform class, I required students to use four different media platforms to tell (a solutions journalism story) besides text. It could be video. It could be audio. It could be graphics. Whatever the story requires. While for my broadcast students, I challenge them at the end of the semester to produce short videos of a solution story, again, sticking to those principles of solutions journalism for rigorous reporting, which is not easy in a minute and a half to two minutes. But with the growing importance of short videos, this is a very effective way to reach audiences.

Grady College: What does this designation, being named a solutions journalism hub, mean? 

Amanda Bright: You know, we’re still trying to figure some of that out. Our four hub schools, we’ve had lots of conversations already about what that’s going to look like on each of our university campuses and what it’s gonna look like in our regions, because we’re really representing the Southeast. 

I think a lot of that is coming to fruition as it develops, but our goal is to be a place of teaching, training, learning and resource for our geographic area. We have several faculty members who are passionate about this. We have been practicing it for a while now, so we’ve learned some things. 

We want to bring in students who want to do this kind of work, researchers who want to do this kind of work, and industry partners and news organizations that want to do this and try to marshal those resources to grow what solutions journalism is and what it means for communities.

Grady College: What does this designation mean in terms of advancing solutions journalism research? What opportunities are there for collaboration with students and professional journalists in the region who are interested in this research? 

Kyser Lough: For me, the designation means a lot when it comes to research, because it further legitimizes what we’re doing here.

It can be difficult, as a scholar, to reach out to journalists and ask them, “Hey, can I interview you and (confidentially) ask you, you know, some of these complicated questions about the work you do.” Even just getting a response can be difficult. 

Or, if we want to partner with a newsroom, sometimes it’s not enough just to be somebody at the University of Georgia. They’re skeptical about what participating in this research means. Being able to come at it from, you know, “We’re from the solutions journalism hub. This is what we study. This is what we do,” I think that’s going to add a lot of oomf in our research and any grant applications that we’re doing. It’s important just in getting the visibility out there that this is a legitimate site of study. We’re a place where people who have questions can come to. If they are an editor of a newsroom and they want to know if this is having any impact, they can come to us and we can look at surveys, focus groups and other ways to assess what’s going on in their newsroom when it comes to solutions journalism and the audience.

I have several studies that I’m currently working on that I’m always excited to have other people come on board with. I’m also excited to have people come pitch an idea, and we’ll talk about the potential. 

Students who are interested can come to our Master’s program or our PhD program, and they can incorporate that into their studies. We can talk about independent study. We could also work that into their actual program of work for their thesis or dissertation. 

There are so many different ways you can take this and apply it, especially to different reporting topics, which is another thing that we’ve been hoping to expand on in the research. How does this play out in health reporting? How does this play out in education reporting, where you’re constantly hearing that either a school has super high scores or super low scores. We never really hear about what schools are doing to try and address those issues.

There’s lots of different topics we can apply it to. Somebody doesn’t have to come here and be a solutions scholar. They can come here being very interested in political coverage. As part of that, we look at solutions journalism and how that can apply to that specific topic.

Grady College: The experts included in this interview want to hear from you, the current and future students, educators and industry professionals in the region. Their contact information is listed below.

Amanda Bright: Amanda.Bright@uga.edu

Kyser Lough: KyserL@uga.edu

Ralitsa Vassileva: Ralitsa.Vassileva@uga.edu

Grady College named one of nation’s first 4 solutions journalism hubs

The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) has named Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia one of the nation’s four inaugural solutions journalism hubs. In this role, Grady College’s Department of Journalism will continue to serve as an incubator for creativity, innovation and research in solutions journalism, which is focused on rigorously reporting on responses to social problems, and function as a resource for students and professionals in the field. 

“Grady College joins the Solutions Journalism Network hopeful that we can work in partnership with the other wonderful schools selected to continue our longstanding work on building trust through journalism that aims to enlighten, inform, but also to point to ways that society can work toward viable outcomes,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “Our newsrooms stand ready to join in this important venture. How we do our work must help citizens solve society’s most pressing problems in a complex, diverse world.”

By recruiting scholars, particularly in visual journalism, Grady will continue to add to the growing body of research on solutions journalism. Led by Kyser Lough, an assistant professor in Journalism, this research will investigate the production, distribution and effects of solutions reporting. Scholars and prospective graduate students can reach out at KyserL@uga.edu. 

The College will also build on the solutions journalism training that all undergraduate journalism majors receive now, and expand this pedagogy within the curriculum, focusing on local news, broadcast and sustainability initiatives. 

Since 2018, Grady students have been incorporating solutions journalism into their reporting. A “solutions journalism” section on Grady Newsource’s website includes over 100 stories. More than 30 of these pieces have been accepted and published by the Solutions Story Tracker, a worldwide database of rigorous reporting on responses to social problems. 

Leveraging industry relationships through the Cox Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management & Leadership, Grady will partner with newsrooms throughout the Southeast to help cover issues unique to the region and create larger collaborations of best solutions journalism practices.

“It would be great if someone at a small newspaper in South Carolina emailed me and said we would love to do a partnership,” said Amanda Bright, director of the Cox Institute Journalism Innovation Lab. “That would be really helpful as we start to build our foundation to see what the needs are.” Bright can be reached at Amanda.Bright@uga.edu.

Lough explained that the College was primed to accept a designation like this, which is an achievement he, along with Bright and Journalism lecturer Ralitsa Vassileva, largely give credit to Grady leadership and, in particular, Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism and incoming associate dean of academic affairs, for supporting. 

“We are always looking for how to teach better journalism, thinking about how we can continue to innovate while also keeping the basics foundations of storytelling,” Lough explained. “This designation is putting a name on what we are, essentially, already doing thanks to the support and encouragement from college leadership.”

Four students and two faculty pose for a picture in Utah in front of a grove of trees with a mountain in the background.
Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva took a small group of students to the Solutions Journalism  Summit in Utah.

In May, Vassileva and Lough took a group of students from the Department of Journalism to the SJN’s 2022 Solutions Journalism Summit in Sundance, Utah. And earlier this summer, The Oglethorpe Echo received a grant that will enable Grady students writing for the publication to report on solutions related to inequalities, including racial and ethnic disparities, political disenfranchisement and economic development, in the area. 

“Our students at UGA are particularly mission-driven. They’re doing this journalism because they want to make a difference in communities,” said Bright. “I think that is also what unites the solutions journalism hubs and the faculty who are interested in this. That’s what will help us grow. It really feels like a breath of fresh air, a little bit of hope in a challenging space.”

The other three institutions named include Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. 

“These four journalism schools have an amazing wealth of talent and resources, and the Solutions Journalism Network is excited to partner with them to help further the spread of solutions journalism. These new hub universities are showing a serious commitment to leading this important work in their regions and nationally, as well as collaborating with their peer institutions to undertake this mission,” said Francine Huff, SJN’s director of journalism school partnerships.

Cox International Center welcomes group of journalists from Sri Lanka

On July 14, 2022, the James M. Cox Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research welcomed seven journalists from Sri Lanka to Grady College, where they spent the day touring College facilities and taking classes on digital media and journalism in the United States. 

The visit to Grady was as a part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program’s Media in a Democracy Project.

Amanda Bright speaks in front of the journalists visiting from Sri Lanka.
Amanda Bright speaks with the visiting journalists about key concepts in news literacy. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

While at Grady, the group of Sri Lankan journalists listened to lectures and participated in discussions led by Tudor Vlad, director of the Cox International Center, Amanda Bright, director of the Cox Institute Journalism Innovation Lab, Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism and incoming associate dean of academic affairs, and David Hazinski, professor emeritus. 

“We were pleased and honored to put together a training program for the Sri Lankan journalists here at Grady College,” said Vlad. “This is an extraordinary time for Sri Lanka, and all my colleagues who contributed to the sessions were aware of the turmoil that the country is going through and by the important role that journalists will play in the following weeks.” 

The Grady faculty members led discussions about the responsibility of the media, the need to inform citizens while avoiding incitement, and about the opportunities for journalists to contribute to the process of democratization, Vlad explained. 

The visitors, who are managers, editors and producers of newspapers, television stations, radio stations and news websites in Sri Lanka, were also led on a tour through the College, making stops by the Grady Newsource facilities, the Social Media Engagement and Evaluation Suite and elsewhere.

Tudor Vlad gives Sri Lankan visitors a tour of Grady Newsource.
Before lunch, Tudor Vlad (left) walked the visitors through a tour of Grady Newsource, the SEE Suite and elsewhere.

“The topics are not new to us, but the technologies and the approach are. So, it’s really good for us and helps us think differently,” one visiting Sri Lankan journalist explained. “The University and the media school, we don’t have these types of facilities in Sri Lanka, but I’m hoping that younger Sri Lankan students can come here and get this experience.”  

 

Cox Institute adds new directors, initiatives to benefit students and industry

A new organizational and leadership structure will expand the training mission of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership.

The Cox Institute, which operates as a unit of the Journalism Department at the University of Georgia’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication, will offer expanded skills development and training opportunities programs for students and professionals through the newly-restructured Journalism Innovation Lab and Journalism Writing Lab.

The Cox Institute’s Journalism Innovation Lab will assume operation of the Digital Natives program, which brings UGA journalism students with digital news expertise into Georgia newsrooms to help local journalists and news organizations accomplish specific digital goals.  This program was launched by Dr. Amanda Bright, a member of the journalism faculty, who will continue to manage this project along with other digital innovation initiatives to develop the products, practices and people of journalism’s future in a new role as Director of the Journalism Innovation Lab.

“I’m thrilled to be able to create a space where students and professionals can collaborate and innovate toward the next iteration of journalism,” Bright said. “The Journalism Innovation Lab will be committed to encouraging students to think boldly about where our industry should go next, while meeting specific needs in the field to serve our audiences and a functioning democracy.”

The Cox Institute’s Journalism Writing Lab will expand its scope by operating the Covering Poverty project, which was relaunched earlier this year by students funded through a Scripps Howard Foundation grant. This fall, the project will recruit a new group of students and alumni to work in partnership with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Athens Banner-Herald.  Lori Johnston (ABJ ’95, MFA ’17), a lecturer in the Journalism Department who oversaw the relaunch of Covering Poverty, will become Director of the Journalism Writing Lab. She will continue to manage the Covering Poverty project along with other content initiatives.

“I am thankful to the Cox Institute for being forward-thinking and for the relationships we have established with these important media outlets, and others to come,” Johnston said. “I look forward to guiding students as they report, write and produce meaningful stories about issues, people and places. They will deepen their reporting abilities and delve into the craft of storytelling and service journalism to help newsrooms tell these stories now, and then take those newfound skills into their careers.”

In addition to the new structure and projects housed in the Journalism Innovation Lab and the Journalism Writing Lab, the Cox Institute will continue to provide students with leadership training opportunities through initiatives such as the Levin Leaders Program and skills development opportunities through a variety of fellowship programs.

“We are enhancing the core of what the Cox Institute has built over three decades to make our programs an even more integral part of the journalism education our students receive,” said Dr. Keith Herndon (ABJ ’82), whose title will change from director to executive director of the Cox Institute as part of the new leadership structure. “Adding two respected colleagues in Amanda Bright and Lori Johnston to our leadership is a win for the Cox Institute and for the students we serve.”

The Cox Institute was established in 1990 by the late Conrad Fink, a legendary journalism professor, as the Cox Institute for Newspaper Management Studies. Its current name was adopted in 2014 to reflect the news media’s digital transformation. The Institute honors the late James M. Cox Jr., who headed Cox Enterprises and Cox Broadcasting Corporation from 1957 until 1974. Its primary funding is from the Jim Cox Jr. Foundation.

Faculty Profile: Amanda Bright

Amanda Bright has always wanted to make an impact on her community, but over the years the impact—and the community—have expanded.

“I have always craved to have more impact,” Bright said. “I want to change people’s lives in a tangible way, and I want to do something to forward my community and not just be in my community.”

It’s for this reason that Bright started out as a community journalist, pivoted to teaching community college and high school journalism classes and now teaches digital journalism at Grady College.

Bright explained further: “Journalism and education—these are my two halves—and I am fortuitously positioned in this moment because I love the intersection of these two subjects. I think, legitimately, what’s going to make our society progress is an intentional focus on how to improve both of these areas and how they intersect.”

One way Bright is moving the communities of Grady College and UGA forward is by channeling her passions into classes that teach students multiplatform journalism, digital design, storytelling and how to be part of the solution.

“Part of my draw to solutions journalism is that idea that we should not just be about reporting all the problems, but also rigorously reporting on what people are trying to do to solve those problems and whether or not it’s working.”

She also teaches students, both journalism majors and non-majors, how to be digital citizens through classes like “Media Savvy: Becoming Digitally Literate.” Diving into topical issues like misinformation, filter bubbles and conformation bias, Bright teaches her students where to find accurate information and how to process it in an ethical, responsible way.

Bright was hired to not only teach but to also bring coherence to the various products of Grady Newsource, the capstone class for journalism majors, along with reporting from various other courses and programs. Bright used her vast knowledge of website design to direct the overhaul of the Grady Newsource website, social media accounts, digital newsletters featuring the week’s top stories and a soon-to-be released app that was created in conjunction with the college’s New Media Institute. The goals are to educate the capstone students in multiplatform reporting and also to invite the community to engage more with Grady Newsource.

“I am so invigorated that we have this space with Grady Newsource and we have new students every semester that have ideas and are willing to try new things,” Bright explains. “There is nothing more exciting than a blank check to innovate. That’s what keeps me going.”

Professor Amanda Bright talks with a student in the Grady NewSource studio.

Bright, who was named Journalism Teacher of the Year last year at Grady College, has made a big impact in a short time not only on the student community but also in the Georgia newspaper community, too. Earlier this year she directed the inaugural group of Digital Natives, an outreach project with the Georgia Press Association. The project paired student journalists with community newspapers to tackle specific digital goals. The students helped the newsrooms with projects like setting up Facebook and Instagram accounts to report news, incorporating infographics and video into news content and teaching how Google analytics can inform website decisions. The program was highly lauded by all involved and plans for the second year are already in motion.

It’s projects like Digital Natives that give Bright satisfaction she is in the right place at the right time bridging journalism and education.

“Journalism as a vocation is one of the most important things we can do,” Bright concludes. “It helps communities locally and globally ­. Its purpose of informing people so they can make good decisions is so mission driven, and training the next generation of journalists is important work. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time.”


Editor’s Note: This article was written for UGA News and can be found on the UGA News website.

 

New program brings journalism students, Georgia newsrooms together to achieve digital goals

When initial discussions began about creating a new program called Digital Natives at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t factored into its launch. Despite the unforeseen challenge, program director and academic professional Amanda Bright and eight students jumped into action.

Digital Natives was developed in conjunction with the Georgia Press Association. The program pairs UGA journalism students with local GPA member newsrooms to help them accomplish a specific digital goal, from improving social media to experimenting with video production. 

“Once I heard about the program I was absolutely in,” Bright said. “I know that [newsrooms] need that support, and who better to give that to them than boundless energy college students?”

For 2021, eight students were selected through an application process that highlighted their abilities and interest in community journalism. The newsrooms also completed an application that determined their digital needs, willingness to work with the students and ability to follow through on what they learned. Students were matched with news organizations based on how well their skill sets would meet the newsroom’s needs.

The students spent a month preparing for an intensive week with their newsrooms. They consulted with editors and publishers about their digital goals and prepared a community audit that covered demographics, economic outlook, government, local competition and an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

Starting on Jan. 4, they implemented their weeklong plans to teach the newsrooms using guided practice, feedback and independent practice resources that they made themselves.

The students created synchronous and asynchronous video tutorials, how-to guides and presentations to explain how to get the most out of digital tools like Instagram and Facebook and develop strategies for optimal use based on the newsroom’s goals.

Senior Alexander Merritt worked with his newsroom, Hometown Headlines, to design infographics to embed in their digital content.

Fourth year Alexander Merritt said Grady Newsource prepared him to confidently work with Rome-based Hometown Headlines editor John Druckenmiller.

Merritt and Druckenmiller worked together to include more infographics in daily content, learn to manage and track a Google analytics page for the website and make a YouTube channel.

“Everyone’s thinking of the CNNs and the Wall Street Journals, you know those kinds of big name jobs, but we forget to understand that local journalism is just as important and those jobs are still good jobs,” Merritt said.

The program is designed to enrich the learning experience for both the students and newsrooms, and that sentiment was especially clear for third-year student Livia Geiger. Geiger’s parents own The Herald Gazette in Barnesville, and even though Geiger is a marketing major in the Terry College of Business, she was able to work with her parents’ newsroom.

“My parents kept referring to themselves as ‘dinosaurs’ and they truly didn’t know anything about Instagram,” Geiger said. “I had to create a Google Drive for them and show them how to post on Instagram. I also was able to level with my parents more because I didn’t have to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes.” 

Kate Hester, a fourth-year student from Monroe, Georgia, said the most rewarding part of the program was looking at the Instagram page of her newsroom, The Hartwell Sun, before and after she arrived. By the end of the week, they were implementing what she recommended. 

“It’s nice that both parties got a new perspective,” Hester said. “When you’re teaching someone else, that’s the best way to learn. I realized how much I really did know about my field and what I needed to improve on in my field.”

The feedback from the newsrooms and the GPA was extremely positive. 

“On behalf of the GPA Board and the Georgia Press Educational Foundation Trustees, yes, a truly amazing report and program. We owe a huge thanks to the Dean for spearheading it and to Amanda for taking it and running with it,” GPA Executive Director Robin Rhodes said.

Bright remains optimistic with Digital Natives’ success and growth in a post-COVID-19 environment. 

“I hope one of the outcomes is that more students decide intentionally to do local journalism,” Bright said. “We have now an established understanding that local news is imperative and crucial and it also needs assistance.”

Grady Digital Natives was modeled off a similar endeavor called Potter Ambassadors at the University of Missouri, where Charles Davis was a professor before becoming dean of Grady College.

If member GPA newsrooms have any questions about the application for the 2022 program, please email Amanda Bright at amanda.bright@uga.edu.

Editor’s Note: This feature was written by Megan Mittelhammer, a 2021 Yarbrough Fellow in the Grady College Department of Communication. She was also a participant in the Digital Natives program.

New class teaches digital literacy tools to combat information disorder

A new Grady College course is equipping students with skills needed to discern between truth and misinformation when consuming digital media.

“Media Savvy: Becoming Digitally Literate” is an online summer class taught by Amanda Bright, academic professional in journalism.

“Current events are creating this course,” Bright said. “Although misinformation is hardly new, the current trends with media manipulation are sophisticated, which means we must become more media savvy.”

The course is a real-time case study as much of the discussion revolves around the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 elections and nationwide protests about race and inequality.

“We are in a moment where this misinformation conversation is not just useful but essential,” Bright said.

Amanda Bright teaches the course. She was the 2019 journalism teacher of the year.

The first words of the course syllabus are: “Clickbait. Deepfakes. Disinformation, Bias, Hoaxes. Fake News.,” giving the 25 enrolled students an immediate glimpse at the subjects examined in the class.

Bright refers to digital literacy as the tools needed to distinguish truth amid information disorder.

“If people do not have correct information, they cannot make correct decisions,” said Bright.

Students are becoming familiar with resources designed to help journalists earn trust such as First Draft and Trusting News, both organizations with prior partnerships with Grady College. The course introduces terminology, context, tools and techniques to develop media literacy and understand the role of journalism in society.

“Hopefully by the end of this class, I hope you can feel like you can have constructive conversations with the people in your life that you may feel like are off-base on this topic,” Bright tells her students in the class’ introductory video.

Many Grady College alumni volunteered their knowledge and time to help students in the class. Meredith Anderson (ABJ ’01) from WRDW, Ivan Aronin (ABJ ’86) from Main Strett News, Chase Cain (ABJ ’05) from NBCLX, Lisa Fu (AB ’17) from FundFire, Daniel Funke (ABJ ’17) from PolitiFact, Randi Hildreth (ABJ ’12) from WBRC, Linda Hurtado (ABJ ’89) from WTVT, Robert Hydrick (ABJ ’84) from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety  Stephanie Gallman Jordan (ABJ ’02) from CNN, Joshua Ninke (ABJ ’11) from KBTX, Maddie Ray (AB ’19) from WXIA, Casey Rose (AB ’09) from WHAS, Kelsey Russo (ABJ ’19) from The Athletic, Sheeka Sanahori (ABJ ’06) from Lonely Planet, Sydney Shadrix (MA ’19) from KLTV all offered to be interviewed by students. Each student is paired with a professional to have a wide-ranging conversation about how journalists fact-check and build trust with audiences.

After being equipped with digital literacy skills, students are charged with analyzing a digital media content for their final project. They are asked to explain their findings, recommend steps to improve understanding for the audience and predict what should happen next in digital media verification.

Grady College welcomes four new faculty for start of 2018-19 academic year

Grady College is pleased to welcome four new faculty members to its team starting in the 2018-19 academic year.

Amanda Bright joins Grady College as an academic professional in the Department of Journalism and will be working closely with Newsource and its digital communications, including the launch of a new website this fall.

Bright has an extensive background in journalism and digital communications. Over the past several years, she has worked as a journalist, photographer, editor and designer for a variety of newspapers, newsletters and online publications. Most recently, she was the media content coordinator for Indiana State Online, managing all of the social media accounts for the Indiana college including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and designing digital news publications for students and faculty. While at Indiana State, she earned a Ph.D., focusing on post-secondary education with a media/journalism emphasis. Bright has also served as education editor for MediaShift, writing content for online and digital newsletters, and as assistant editor for Innocent Words Magazine, a magazine and record label based in Oakwood, Illinois.

Bright has served as a journalism instructor, most recently at Eastern Illinois University, and a yearbook advisor. Bright served as the social media director and website co-administrator for the Illinois Journalism Education Association for the last four years. In addition to her doctorate degree, Bright holds a master’s degree in English from Eastern Illinois University and a bachelor of science degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Alexander Pfeuffer joins the Department of Advertising and Public Relations as an assistant professor of advertising. He will teach AdPR research, and advertising and communication management.

Pfeuffer has recently earned a doctorate degree in mass communication from the University of Minnesota. His dissertation studied the impact of sponsorship disclosure in electronic communication. While at the University of Minnesota, he was a teaching assistant for a variety of classes including information for mass communication, media planning, and advertising and society. He also served as a research assistant for Jisu Huh (MA ’00, PhD ‘03). He was the recipient of the Ralph D. Casey Dissertation Research Award in 2017.

Pfeuffer has spent time teaching abroad, as well, teaching English and communication at the Julius-Maximilians-Universitat in Wurzburg, Germany.

In addition to his studies at the University of Minnesota, Pfeuffer has a master’s degree of communication management from the Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication from the University of Southern California and a bachelor of arts degree in communication from George Mason University.

Glenna Read joins AdPR as an assistant professor of advertising teaching media strategy.

Read comes to Grady College from Indiana University where she earned a doctorate in mass communication. She has a minor from IU in psychology and her dissertation was a blend of both areas of study focusing on social identity in advertising.

While at IU, Read taught courses in programming strategies and creative advertising.

Her research has focused on the effects of video games and violence, gender ambiguity in advertisements and facial electromyography, among other subjects. She won the Best Research Paper recognition for a graduate student in 2018.

Read has a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Appalachian State University and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Georgia State University.

Sabriya Rice assumes the role of Knight Chair for Health and Medical Journalism directing this respected graduate program.

Rice has spent more than 15 years as a reporter covering health care, science and medicine. For the past two years, she has worked as the business of healthcare reporter for the Dallas Morning News, writing about trends in the health care industry. She also served as the quality and safety reporter for Modern Healthcare Magazine for two years, focusing on topics of quality and safety. Visual storytelling and graphics are important aspects of her multi-media features.

In addition to reporting, Rice has been a director of media relations for the American Cancer Society and a writer/producer for CNN, working with CNNHealth.com, Sanjay Gupta and Elizabeth Cohen. Her focus on healthcare storytelling began with a three-year job as producer and on-air reporter for Quest Network Blue Zones, a project in Greece and Costa Rica telling stories of longevity and high life expectancy.

Rice is on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists and is the recipient of several fellowships including the MayoClinic-Walter Cronkite Medical Journalism Fellowship awarded this past May.

Rice has a bachelor of arts degree in film and television from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Miami.