MFA Author Book Talk

Our MFA program in Narrative Media Writing attracts talented students from across the country and helps pave the way to publication of their work.

Join us in the Peyton Anderson Forum in the Journalism building on Thursday, Aug. 5 as we celebrate the book releases of current student Brandon Fleming (’22) and alumnus Martin Padgett (MFA ’18).

Books will be available for purchase. Program will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Countdown to the Olympic Games: Dick Yarbrough

This year officially marks 25 years since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. These games have gone down in history for bringing international attention to the south and also for the tragic bombing in Centennial Park. 

University of Georgia broadcast journalism graduate Dick Yarbrough was instrumental in planning these Games and in the subsequent crisis management after the bombing. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Atlanta Games, Yarbrough has re-released his book And They Call Them Games detailing his experience. 

He served as managing director for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games from 1993-1996 where he was responsible for media relations and government relations. Yarbrough worked hard for three years alongside his team to ensure that the United States — and the state of Georgia — was prepared to host an event with as great a magnitude as the Olympics while the entire world was watching. 

While there were certainly stressful times that came along with the Games and the planning, Yarbrough says this time in his life was filled with fond memories.

A page from Yarbrough’s book.

“There were many. Seeing the Olympic Flame lit in the ancient city of Olympia. Having the opportunity to travel to many countries across the globe. Watching young Olympic athletes interacting with each other in the Olympic Village, not caring about their own countries’ political positions,” he remembered. “It was brought home to me that no matter how well an athlete fared in their competition, they were and always would be known as Olympians. I was also heartened by the enthusiasm of the five million who attended the Games and the 50,000 volunteers who showed everyone the true meaning of the term ‘Southern Hospitality.”

After the Games had ended, Yarbrough said he kept waiting for someone to write a book about everything that had happened, from the idea to host the Olympics in Atlanta to the planning stages to the fruits of the ACOG’s labors to the bombing. 

While working on the planning committee, Yarbrough recorded tapes of what had happened each day on the way to and from work. His habit of documenting everything had been reinforced by his career, which had him regularly visiting the White House, working with Congress, navigating “high-profile issues” and traveling the globe.

“After the Games, it became clear no one was planning to do a book on the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games,” Yarbrough said. “I asked if I would be interested in taking on the project. With 82 tapes as a resource, I produced the book in roughly six months.”

Yarbrough’s book is available for purchase on Amazon. (Graphic by Sam Perez)

His goal for his book is that readers would see the complexity surrounding the planning and staging of the Olympics. As for the name, And They Call Them Games, Yarbrough says it holds a very intentional meaning.

“It is easy to forget that the Olympics are a chance for nations to put aside their differences for even a brief period and allow people to engage in peaceful competition,” he explained. “With all the politics, money, controversy, special interests involved, the title was meant as a dig at those who forget that.”

Dick Yarbrough graduated from Grady College in 1959 and has gone on to accomplish many impressive achievements. Most recently, he has been named Georgia’s most widely-syndicated columnist with his name appearing regularly in over 40 newspapers across the state. 

“The Georgia Press Association has recognized my column with first place awards for humor, although a number of politicians would like a recount. They don’t find me that funny,” he said. 

Throughout his exciting — and impressive — career, Yarbrough has managed to stay connected to his alma mater. He served as president of UGA’s National Alumni Association, received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995, was recognized as an Outstanding Alumnus and Fellow of the College at Grady, has the C. Richard Yarbrough Laboratory named in his honor and established the C. Richard Yarbrough Chair in Crisis Communications Leadership

“I owe more to Grady than I have the words to express,” he said. “A chance internship led to a job in radio upon graduation. That led to an opportunity to join Southern Bell as a public relations manager. Twenty year later, I was a corporate vice president of BellSouth Corporation.  Having developed a reputation for crisis management, I was offered a once-in-lifetime opportunity to become a managing director of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.  And it all started with a dedicated faculty who saw some merit in a raw kid from East Point, Georgia.”

The revenue from Yarbrough’s column goes toward fellowships for students at Grady. He also funds the Crisis Communications professorship under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Reber, which he says is a “small effort to repay Grady for all it has meant to me and done for me.”

You can buy his book on Amazon here

Editor’s Note: This feature was written by Sam Perez, a 2021 Yarbrough Fellow in the Grady College Department of Communication. As part of the fellowship, she is helping market the re-release of Yarbrough’s book.

Exploring the Carolina Bays with Tom Poland (ABJ ’71, MED ’75)

Author Tom Poland (ABJ ’71, MED ’75) will discuss his latest book, Carolina Bays – Wild, Mysterious and Majestic Landforms which explores and documents the bays of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.  Co-hosted by Mary Frances Early College of Education and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

This event will take place via Zoom videoconference. Sofia Gratas (AB ’20) is the moderator.

An Education in Georgia: Then and Now, kick off event for the campus-wide read of An Education in Georgia: Charlayne Hunter, Hamilton Holmes, and the Integration of the University of Georgia

To kick off the campus-wide reading event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of desegregation at the University of Georgia, UGA alumna Charlayne Hunter-Gault will participate in a conversation with longtime New Yorker columnist and author Calvin Trillin to discuss his book An Education in Georgia: Charlayne Hunter, Hamilton Holmes, and the Integration of the University of Georgia (UGA Press). The conversation will be moderated by Valerie Boyd, Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence, Associate Professor, Journalism, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, UGA.

Register for this Zoom event here. 

Throughout the month of February, the Press will share supplemental materials including discussion questions, interviews, news articles drawn from the New Georgia Encyclopedia, and other prompts via social media. We will announce book giveaways in January as well as provide a discount code to students, faculty, staff, and community members who register for the event.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a Peabody and Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 50 years in the media industry, extending her work at various times to all media including The New Yorker, NBC, The New York Times, PBS, NPR and CNN. She is also the author of four books, including In My Place, an autobiography and To The Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement. She continues with the PBS NEWSHOUR with a special series called Race Matters, looking at solutions to racism and is a highly sought after lecturer and moderator.

Calvin Trillin has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1963. As the Nation’s “Deadline Poet,” he writes weekly verse on the news of the day. In addition to his books of reportage, he has published memoirs, comic novels, and books of verse. His books include Remembering Denny, Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme, Tepper Isn’t Going Out, About Alice, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin, Jackson, 1964, and No Fair! No Fair! (with Roz Chast.)

Shira Chess authors “Play Like A Feminist” to spotlight more voices in video game community

Shira Chess, associate professor of entertainment and media studies, has studied video games for two decades and has observed many changes in the gaming industry. She knows how powerful the medium is and where it can grow to better serve society. In her new book, “Play Like A Feminist,” Chess encourages an expansive conversation about video games that includes new people and fresh perspective.

“I want to see more people engaged in the video game industry because the more voices we get, the better this medium will continue to develop,” Chess said.

While surveys and questioning methods can vary, Chess says about half of video game consumers identify as female. She says feminism and video games need each other because human equality must include leisure among its weighty societal issues.

“It is time for a feminism that embraces play, “Chess said. “Video games have so much potential to rewrite leisure practices for those who don’t get enough playtime and to explore issues like agency and identity.”

Learn more about “Play Like A Feminist” at playlikeafeminist.com

Chess says more voices in the video game industry only helps the development of game quality because new viewpoints can be expressed.

“Video games are still emerging as a popular culture medium,” Chess said. “The more people that play, the less video games get stuck in the same patterns and ruts.”

The origins of “Play Like A Feminist” were rooted in conversations Chess had following the publishing of her 2017 book: “Ready Player Two: Gamers and Designed Identity.” Readers played games recommended in that book and reported back with pleasant surprise that video games could be works of art and literary experiences.

Chess realized that the discussions in academic circles surrounding video games were not reaching a wider public. She has found community through video games and knows the benefit of that shared experience, especially in a year where many shared experiences have been stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chess’ book specifically proposes the idea of “gaming circles” – small groups of game players that can meet up regularly, like a book club. She argues that these communities are a way to foster novice gamers with recommendations, feedback and banter on communal experiences.

“Adding more play and games into our lives – even when it’s difficult to do with the difficulties of 2020 and beyond – can help us all think differently and see the world in new ways.”

To learn more about the book, see a list of Chess’ recommended games and more tips on building community through video games, visit her website at: www.playlikeafeminist.com

Grady professors publish in second edition of textbook aimed at teaching excellence for communicating cross-cultural issues

María E. Len-Ríos, associate dean and public relations professor, recently co-edited and was a co-author in the second edition of “Cross-Cultural Journalism and Strategic Communication: Storytelling and Diversity.” The textbook is also co-edited by Earnest L. Perry, associate dean for graduate studies at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Both editions of the publication along with the hard-back copy of the second edition.

The book is a collaborative project featuring 17 authors, many of whom are former journalists, national thought leaders on diversity and communication professionals, who provide guidance to students and professionals to help them navigate the nuances of diversity in storytelling.

“This book is an answer of what we can talk to our students about when they need to cover difficult stories related to culture, which comes up in the news every day,” Len-Ríos said.

The first edition of the book published in December 2015 with the goal of becoming a resource for students and professionals engaging in writing stories about cross-cultural topics, such as religion, crime, gender, sports, health inequities, age/generation, immigration, international storytelling and social class. The second edition builds on that concept with recent and relevant updates.

“Our culture has changed since we came out with the first edition,” said Len-Ríos. “The culture of journalism and the way it is practiced with changing technology, with changing public attitudes towards journalism, the different relationship journalists have with institutions and power and audiences have all changed the way journalists and communication professionals think about journalism.”

One of the textbook chapters, “Telling—and Erasing—Diverse Stories in Sports Media,” is authored by Welch Suggs, associate professor in journalism and associate director of Grady Sports Media.

“Every issue in society is refracted through sports in some way,” Suggs said. “In fact, sports offers us a platform to discuss some of these issues in a way that may be a little less fraught or a little bit easier to talk about because it is a second reference. We are able to wrestle with it without it being a matter of endangering our personal sense of identity.”

Len-Ríos says the response from students has included some students remarking that they had read the textbook cover to cover. She credits the interest to the accessible narratives used by the chapter authors.

“They write it in a way that draws you in and you become interested to learn what is at the end of the chapter,” Len-Ríos said.

Learn more about the book here.