Former and current Grady faculty contribute to new crisis planning tool

If the past two years have proven anything, it is that crises can strike at any moment. 

That’s why Ann Hollifield, professor emeritus and former Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Research at Grady College, was inspired to assist in the creation of The Media Resilience Scanner, a comprehensive online crisis preparation, management and recovery tool for news organizations and journalists around the world. 

The tool, now available for free online, was recently released by the German media development organization DW Akademie, which is part of Deutsche Welle, a public service broadcaster and strategic partner of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

“The Media Resilience Scanner is designed to help news organizations prepare for a variety of crises that may disrupt their operations when journalists are needed most,” Hollifield explained. “The scanner also helps news managers prepare to financially survive the aftereffects of crises. Finally, it can be used as a staff training tool, particularly for journalists who will be working in the field under crisis conditions.”

The tool guides media professionals step by step through the process of evaluating and planning for risks, managing crises as they occur and addressing residual risks to news media viability that may occur in the aftermath of a disruption. 

Screenshot of crisis categories from the Resilience Scanner website.
Users can pick from a set of crises categories to design their plans.

By answering a series of questions, users can build their own crisis plans for a wide range of categories, including “basic planning,” “natural and human-made disaster” and “digital threats,” among others. At the end, the tool creates a customized crisis preparation and management plan as a downloadable PDF.

“The scanner was developed based on interviews with more than 30 news executives and journalists around the world, who have steered their news organizations through a variety of crises, including Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa,” said Hollifield. “Academic research on crisis management was consulted, as were multiple other sources of expertise. The scanner reflects best practices and suggestions from news professionals who have lived the experiences.”

Hollifield went on to explain that Dodie Cantrell-Bickley, senior lecturer in journalism, as well as Professors Emeritus Michael Castengera and David Hazinski, all contributed directly and indirectly to the research she did for this project, as did the many years of international collaborative research projects she worked on for the Cox Center. 

Hollifield, Hudson retire

Grady College is honoring the retirement of two of its journalism professors, Ann Hollifield, the former Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media research, and Tom Hudson, a senior lecturer in journalism.

“Both Ann and Tom leave holes in Grady, but also a lasting legacy of excellence and dedication to students,” said Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism. Hume also serves as the Department of Journalism head.

Hollifield specializes in media management and economics, and taught classes focusing on media and broadcast station ownership and management. She also directed Grady’s graduate certificate in Media Analytics. In addition to studying domestic media ownership, she researched international communication policy and the effects of international copyright law and sustainability on the economies ranging from rural communities to developing nations.

Ann Hollifield is congratulated on her retirement by Dean Charles Davis during the a faculty reception May 1, 2019. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Hollifield served on the Grady College faculty for 22 years, working first as an assistant professor of telecommunications and the coordinator of the Michael J. Faherty Broadcast Management Lab. She earned her title of Dowden professor in 2008 and served as the Department of Telecommunications head from 2008 until 2014. As the Dowden professor, Hollifield not only directed the media analytics certificate, but also oversaw several international media forums, including the Media and Public Sphere International Conference in 2016.

“Ann Hollifield gave much to our college as a preeminent scholar in media management and economics and a popular teacher,” Hume said.

Hollifield won numerous awards for her teaching and research, including, most recently, the Top Faculty Paper at the 2016 AEJMC conference. In 2001, she was named a Senior Policy Fellow with the Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs in Ohio.

Hollifield shows no signs of slowing her international travel and research in retirement. This summer she participated as a panelist in the plenary session at the Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany. Hollifield is married to Lee Becker, professor emeritus in journalism, who retired in 2017.

Hudson taught journalism courses at Grady College for 24 years, including news writing and lab, one of the core offerings in Grady’s journalism program. His research foci included writing methods of published authors, and he also taught classes in journalism ethics, magazine writing and editing.

Tom Hudson in 2002.

“Tom Hudson is a wonderful, kind teacher who guided so many journalism and public relations majors through their first reporting and writing course,” Hume said. “There is no telling how many students earned their first professional bylines with stories written for his class.”

In addition to teaching writing workshops around the Athens community, Hudson also spent time teaching at the Carnegie School of Journalism at the Pennsylvania State University prior to his position at Grady College. He worked several years as a journalist in Pennsylvania following college.

Among the accolades Hudson received, he most recently was the recipient of the Excellence in Journalism Education Award from the Department of Journalism.


Grady College researcher presents ideas for news media sustainability at Global Media Forum

Ideas for creating news media sustainability around the globe were the focus of an interactive TED-style presentation given by Grady College faculty member Ann Hollifield at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany, last month.

“Media viability in many places will depend upon developing ‘resource models’ rather than ‘business models,'” Hollifield told attendees at the session.

Hollifield was a featured speaker and discussion leader in the IdeaLab session at this year’s Global Media Forum. The IdeaLab discussion, titled “Money Talks and Media Development Should Listen,” examined creative approaches to building media organizations able to produce high-quality journalism in differing types of media systems and under different economic and press freedom conditions.

The Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Research in the Grady College, Hollifield has previously worked as a consultant for DW Akademie on a project DW Akademie led to develop globally useable measures of media viability. Based on that and related work, Hollifield and her DW Akademie colleagues have published several collaborative works on global media viability.

That research identified seven resource categories critical to news organizations’ ability to sustain the production of high-quality journalism, Hollifield told the session. Those are: a dependable revenue source; a content niche for which there is audience demand; audience attention to the news organization’s content; the ability to deliver content to users where and when the users want it; the ability to attract and retain qualified content producers; a legal regime that supports press freedom; and access to basic production inputs such as electricity, the Internet, or other materials required for content production and distribution by a particular new team.

Hollifield told participants that there were some indications in the research she had done that media viability might be achievable with different combinations of these resources. In other words, it might be possible in the digital era to produce and sustain high-quality journalism by substituting more of some types of resources for resources the news organization didn’t have and couldn’t get.

“The challenge then becomes what resources, and how much of each resource, will produce viable, quality journalism under different sets of conditions,” Hollifield said.

During the discussion that followed her remarks, participants from news organizations from a number of different countries said attracting and keeping experienced journalists was one of their biggest challenges. “As soon as we really have them trained, someone else hires them away,” one attendee commented.

The IdeaLab presented ideas for achieving media viability from four presenters. Daniel Blank, country representative, Ghana, for DW Akademie, discussed innovative strategies for financial management and marketing for news groups, while Nigel Mugamu, chief storyteller for 26Chat in Zimbabwe, and Rohit Singh, director of programs and partnerships for Gam Vasni in India, shared best practices for media viability that they had developed through their experience launching media startups.

The 2017 Global Media Forum was the 10th annual conference organized by Deutsche Welle, a German Public Service Broadcasting organization that produces news and information in numerous languages for distribution around the world. Deutsche Welle’s foundation, DW Akademie, is one of Germany’s largest media non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). DW Akademie supports media-development and journalism training projects in developing countries around the world.

The theme of this year’s Forum was “Identity and Diversity.” More than 2,000 participants from 70 countries traveled to Bonn for the Forum, which was held June 19-22.