Three student journalists selected as winners of the Best Stories of Summer contest

Luke Gamble, Savannah Sicurella and Tyler Wilkins were selected as the 2019 winners of the “Best Stories of Summer” contest.

The annual contest, sponsored by Grady College’s Department of Journalism, asks interested students to submit stories written as part of a summer internship. The submissions, which can be formatted for print, digital or television, are then evaluated by a committee of faculty members.

When evaluating submissions, the committee looks for pieces that exemplify “high quality, accurate, ethical journalism,” according to Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism.

Gamble, a senior journalism student, interned at Fox 5 News this summer, and was recognized for his television segment “Falcons Quarterback Learning a New Game and a New Language.” The story focused on Falcons player Kurt Benkert and the friendship he’s developed with a deaf 13-year-old over the video game Fortnite.

Gamble’s two-and-a-half months at Fox 5 News gave him the opportunity to work in the field on a regular basis and gain hands-on broadcast experience.

“It feels great to be recognized for my work,” Gamble said. “Grady College has some of the hardest working students on campus, and in the country, and I couldn’t be more honored to be recognized among some of the best student journalists in the country.”

Sicurella worked for Paste magazine over the summer and described the experience as “magic.” She wrote hundreds of stories over the summer, often writing six to seven shorter pieces a day and long-form reviews in her free time.

Her story, “What ‘Euphoria’s’ Grimdark Aesthetic Says About the Evolution of Teen Dramas,”studied the new HBO series starring Zendaya Coleman. Sicurella said this piece stood out to her when choosing which to submit because she invested a lot of time into writing it.

The junior majoring in journalism was excited that Grady acknowledged a piece that was culturally focused, pointing out that the genre is sometimes overlooked.

“Though often dwarfed by more pressing or timely news coverage, culture criticism and feature writing are still important,” Sicurella said.

As a summer intern at the Lake Oconee News, Wilkins, a junior journalism major, wrote “Income Inequality: U.S. Census Bureau data shows Greene County as having the highest level of income inequality in Georgia.” The story can be read by following these links: page one, page two.

“I spent approximately a month digging through U.S. census data and convincing local government officials to go on the record about income inequality,” Wilkins said. “I felt it was an important topic that most people in the county knew, but no one had reported on.”

Wilkins said his experience at the Lake Oconee News taught him about the nuance of reporting on sensitive topics in a small community and affirmed his decision to pursue a career in journalism.

Gamble, Sicurella and Wilkins each received $250 for winning the competition.

Three journalism students awarded for Best Stories of Summer Contest

The Department of Journalism at Grady College has named three journalism students as winners of the Best Stories of Summer 2018 competition for outstanding reporting during their summer internship.

Jeanne Davis, Charlotte Norsworthy and Maddie Ray will each receive $250.

“The Journalism Department began this competition several years ago to celebrate the great work our students do in summer internships, which are so important to their education and their prospects for landing good jobs,” said Janice Hume, head of the Department of Journalism. “Internship supervisors have always raved about their work, but we rarely got to see it. Now we do. I love reading and watching these stories. They make me proud. These winners represent the best of the best.”

Writing for WUGA and Flagpole in Athens, Georgia, Davis authored pieces on the decline in fireflies and the United Campus Workers of Georgia campaign to lower parking fees on UGA’s campus.

“This summer I found myself drawing on techniques I learned in Dr. Hollander’s data journalism class while doing research for my piece on the campus worker’s labor union,” said Davis. “With income inequality on the rise for the past three decades, I think it’s important to make labor reporting a priority and I feel grateful to be even a small part of that.”

Norsworthy spent her summer at National Public Radio (NPR), reporting on the decline in teens working summer jobs, competitive job benefits in the labor market and the drop in unemployment rate for African Americans.

“This internship has inspired me to tackle difficult subject matter in journalism and has taught me to apply things like finances and politics in a way that you and I can understand,” Norsworthy said. “I am so grateful to have worked with NPR’s Business Desk this summer, and I hope to continue learning and reporting on those hard-to-digest stories.”

Ray interned at 11Alive in Atlanta, Georgia, reporting on a variety of stories in the Atlanta area.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better summer,” Ray reflected.  “I left my internship at 11Alive filled with excitement and motivation to continue working towards being the best journalist I can be so I can best serve my community.”

This is one of the many projects made possible by the Don E. and Carolyn McKenzie Carter Endowment for Journalism Excellence, the college’s first endowment of a departmental mission made possible by the generous support of the Carters.

“We are grateful to the late Carolyn and Don Carter for making this competition possible,” said Janice Hume.

This is the fourth year the Journalism Department has held the competition.


Journalism department announces winners of 2016 ‘Best Stories of Summer’ contest

Student journalists who— during their summer internships—reported on youth poverty, credit card fraud and the trend of retiring with debt have been selected as winners of the Grady College Department of Journalism’s second annual “Best Stories of Summer” contest.

Seniors Daniel Funke, Dillon Richards and Will Robinson each will be awarded a $250 prize.

“Grady Journalism students spend their summers working for all sorts of news organizations, and from reports I get from supervisors, they do a fantastic job,” said Janice Hume, department head. “We wanted to honor the top summer stories to celebrate their success. These three winners represent the best of a whole lot of terrific work. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Though daily reporting wasn’t part of Daniel Funke’s job description as a web intern at the Los Angeles Times, he pitched a story to the metro editors anyway. “I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and report on an issue that I saw to be of great importance to the LA area —youth poverty,” said Funke, who was also a winner of the 2015 “Best Stories of Summer” contest. “In particular, I was interested in writing a story about the state of LGBT youth homelessness in Southern California through the lens of someone who experiences it every day.”

For the piece, Funke interviewed Kaleef Starks, a transgender African-American woman, at a transitional housing facility in Hollywood.

“Her story served as the springboard for the rest of my reporting,” Funke said, “which found that services catered specifically to LGBT youth are lacking in LA—despite the fact that they make up a large proportion of that population.”

At the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Will Robinson wrote a standout story about how Dave Polstra, co-founder and partner of Brightworth, used his finance skills to help a ministry become debt free.

“The profile was the first story I was assigned at the Chronicle. A profile was also one of the first assignments I ever had for Grady,” said Robinson. “The way I conducted my interview, structured my article and decided on quotes were all affected by my News Writing and Reporting lab.”

In another story, Robinson tackled the issue of retiring with debt “because I found many sources who felt it was a rising trend,” he said. “My editors helped me understand what questions the Chronicle’s readers would have so I could make my article relevant to our audience. I also relied on experience from writing trend stories in my Public Affairs Reporting class.”

One of Dillon Richards’ first big assignments as an intern at WMAZ-TV in Macon was to profile new upgrades at the stadium where an Independence Concert was to take place.

“I knew, from all my training at Grady, that I needed to find someone who loved the stadium and worked hard to make it as good as it could be,” explained Richards. “Once I found him, I spent a day in the hot sun getting all the video I needed, but also making sure I got all the sound I needed —the sound of him rattling chains, cutting wood or unlocking a door—the things that make you feel like you’re there with him.”

Richards also covered hard news, such as his report on how consumers can protect themselves from credit card fraud.

“My professors taught me that news matters and that words matter, and that was something I learned over and over at WMAZ,” said Richards. “Because of Grady, I knew never to give up on a story, and, because of that, I was known for always bringing back a great story no matter what I was assigned.”