Podcast: Exploring Grady’s new Certificate in News Literacy

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The current media landscape is full of unreliable and deceptive information, through deep fakes, click bait, conspiracies and more. With advancements in technology and the sheer amount of information out there, discerning between what is real and fake has perhaps never been more challenging. 

With this issue in mind, Grady College’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership has established the Certificate in News Literacy, open to any student at the University of Georgia. The program equips students with concepts and tools they need to recognize the difference between the truth and falsehoods.

To learn more about the program, including what courses are offered, what students gain, and how to get started, the Grady Research Radio podcast sat down with Dr. Keith Herndon, the executive director of the Cox Institute, the William S. Morris Chair in News Strategy and Management and director of the Cox Institute’s Certificate in News Literacy, and Charlotte Norsworthy, a part-time instructor at Grady College, the editorial director of The Red & Black, and the program coordinator for the Certificate in News Literacy. 

Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity and brevity. 

Grady Research Radio: Can you tell me what your roles are with the certificate program? 

Cox Institute Faculty: Keith Herndon (left), Amanda Bright and Lori Johnston.
Cox Institute Faculty: Keith Herndon (left), Amanda Bright and Lori Johnston. (Image: Sarah Freeman)

Keith Herndon: I am the executive director of the Cox Institute, and the certificate is an initiative of the Cox Institute. Specifically, as it relates to the certificate, I’m the director of the certificate.

Charlotte Norsworthy: And I’m the program coordinator. I help on the logistical side of things, making sure that students are enrolling properly, making it through the certificate, and being granted that certification at the end of the program. I’m also a part-time instructor at the university.

Grady Research Radio: Okay, great. Can you give me background on the certificate — its origins and why you determined there was a need to establish this certificate? 

Keith Herndon: Well, I think that I started to sense a need for the certificate through some of the interactions I was having with students in the intro class, which we call JOUR 3030. The full title is Media News and Consumers. That course is open to any major on campus. We have a wide range of students in that class, ranging from finance majors to sport management to a wide range of Grady majors, including advertising, public relations, EMST and journalism. 

When I started seeing the wide range of understanding of how the media actually operates and what we meant by this idea of misinformation and disinformation, it became pretty clear that there needed to be this broader approach to talking about news literacy with our broader student body.

Charlotte was my original TA when I took over teaching that class, and she also witnessed that firsthand. You can add something to that observation, right? 

Students in the Journalism Summer Academy visited The Red & Black where Charlotte Norsworthy shared details about what it's like to work at a student newspaper.
Students in the Journalism Summer Academy visited The Red & Black where Charlotte Norsworthy shared details about what it’s like to work at a student newspaper. (Image: Sarah Freeman)

Charlotte Norsworthy: Absolutely. Students are coming at media from all different backgrounds, perspectives and contexts. How they were raised and socialized — all of that plays into how they engage with the media. 

We realized, through doing that class, that they are also actively participating in the spread of information. And so, what is the quality of that information that they are engaging with and sharing by being active users in the digital space and on social media? It has a pretty hefty impact, and we were seeing that firsthand. 

Keith Herndon: It was natural to use that course (JOUR 3030) as the intro for the certificate. That course explains what the First Amendment is, why it’s important and what it does and doesn’t do. That’s a really good, you know, foundational course to build a certificate around.

The certificate is based on four courses overall. There are two intermediate courses, which are our ethics and diversity class and our news credibility class. We end it with a capstone course that was developed by Dr. Amanda Bright called Digital Savvy.

Grady Research Radio: Can you kind of do a quick overview of some of the things one would learn in those courses?

Keith Herndon: The ethics and diversity class looks at how the news media operates internally. What are the things that the news media would consider conflicts of interest? How does the news media think about sourcing? We also want to think in terms of inclusivity. Are we covering our communities holistically? That’s where the diversity part comes in. 

We also look at how our newsrooms operate in terms of making sure that we represent the communities that we cover. Do we have the right voices in our newsrooms? All those are part of the equation. So that’s what we mean by ethics and diversity. It’s more of an internal look at those kinds of issues.

The news credibility course is much more of an external look. That’s where we talk about this issue of trusting in news. How does the consumer interact with the news media? What are some of the key things that have affected trust in the media? What are some of the things that we have to address from political leanings? How do political leanings affect a person’s relationship with the news media? The news credibility course is looking at it more from an external perspective.

I already mentioned JOUR 3030. That’s the foundational class. It’s where we explain to people what misinformation and disinformation is — how we think of that as almost like pollution in our ecosystem, the same way we think of plastic as polluting the ocean. We really get into some of those fundamentals in that class. 

And then it ends with the capstone course called Digital Savvy. That’s more of a practicum class, where the idea is, okay, how do we then spot false information? What are some tools that we can use to understand that this is not accurate information? This is not a photograph that depicts what it says it depicts. This is a video that’s not real. It’s been altered in some way. 

Grady Research Radio: I know this is open to any student at the University of Georgia. So, can you talk a little bit about the train of thought, the reasons for opening it up to the entire campus?  What would a student who isn’t directly involved in journalism on a day-to-day basis gain from this? 

A quote card from Charlotte Norsworthy that reads, "If you are . . . any sort of informed citizen of society, being media literate is a crucial skill. It's also a skill that is applicable across careers."Charlotte Norsworthy: Yeah, so I think our thought process on establishing the Certificate of News Literacy in a way that all majors and all students could access was from the perspective that news literacy is something that everyone participates in. Everyone should be aware because they are all active participants and sharing media and engaging with news. 

So, if you are, you know, any sort of informed citizen of society, being media literate is a crucial skill. It’s also a skill that is applicable across careers, right? So, in journalism, we are news gathering. We are creating news. We are producing and disseminating. So, it’s highly specialized and important to us in this field, as well as other Grady majors. 

But majors across the university could also find themselves benefiting from it, because companies across the globe and across factions and fields and industries are also online. They’re also digital. They’re also engaging with information and producing the spread of information. So are they doing so in a way that’s accurate, that’s fair and balanced, that’s not polluting the ecosystem even more?

Grady Research Radio: Great. Are there any prerequisites for this certificate, or can a student start this freshman year? 

Keith Herndon: The JOUR 3030 class has been designed from the very beginning to be open to any student at any point of their University of Georgia journey. We consider that to be an entry-level course. We have students in that class who take it in their freshman year, sometimes even their very first semester of their freshman year. We also have a group of sophomores who take it. Obviously that’s a required class if you’re a journalism major. It’s an elective for any other major. 

That would be the way this would work. If it’s a journalism major that’s doing this certificate, all of the courses and the certificate would count for their major. If it’s a student outside of the journalism major and they do this certificate, it would count as a part of their electives.

Grady Research Radio: Okay, great. So, a journalism student, they could easily embed this into their schedule while not adding any time to their graduation schedule? 

Keith Herndon: Yeah. That’s the way it works. 

Grady Research Radio: For a student who’s in Grady, maybe in Advertising or Public Relations or Entertainment and Media Studies, how much time could this potentially add to their schedule? 

Keith Herndon: I don’t think it would actually add anything if they’re building it in as part of their degree program. Most of the students in our College have plenty of room in their schedule for electives. 

Now, they have to make some decisions. They wouldn’t be able to do a double major and a minor and another certificate and still do this as part of their normal course. I mean, it would be one of the things that they would have to choose as part of their degree program. 

The journalism students, because this is part of their curriculum, can select these and it would just be embedded into their degree program. Others would have to figure out how to make it work within their body of electives that are available.

Grady Research Radio: Great. So you said there’s also a research component connected to this. Could you elaborate on that? 

Keith Herndon: Charlotte and I are working with one of my teaching assistants, Kate Hester, who is one of my graduate assistants in the Cox Institute. And we’re looking at this idea that news literacy is essentially a critical thinking skill. It’s essentially something, as Charlotte alluded to, that all these different industries are looking at as almost a leadership attribute. 

And so, we are doing some systematic review of literature, looking at the pedagogy that underlies the classes that we’re teaching, and then looking at how that pedagogy aligns with leadership education and other types of critical thinking training. We will document all of that. It’s called an innovative practice paper that we would then submit as a conference paper with the Association for Leadership Educators. Charlotte and I have collaborated on several of these types of pedagogy leadership framework papers in the past. 

Anything you want to add to that process?  

Charlotte Norsworthy: I think that the actual practice of going through and constructing these innovative practice papers is incredibly valuable to the research field. 

Research typically deals with qualitative and quantitative research methods, and I think that these types of papers bridge the gap from the traditional academic methods into the practicum side of journalism, which is unique to our specific industry. You have to actually do the thing and then you can study the thing. So, this Certificate of News Literacy is sort of us doing the thing. But then we’re also reviewing how it’s impacting those themes that Keith mentioned.

Keith Herndon: And so I think that a lot of what we do in the Cox Institute, you know, our full name is the Cox Institute for Journalism, Innovation, Management and Leadership. So we think that the certificate is innovative, but we also think it has a component of leadership embedded in it. A key attribute of being a leader, in my estimation, is to be truthful and to be trustworthy. 

The idea that we have to think of it in terms of the things that we share on social media, the things that we produce out there in the world — it goes beyond just journalism production. It’s anything we do on social media. Are we sharing a post? Are we liking something that may not even be remotely accurate? But the very act of liking it has put it out in your information dissemination. 

We want students to think, “Well, is that putting me in the best light?” That’s learning to be discerning about how you live your life. And that’s a critical thinking skill. That critical thinking skill of how we look at all of this information, that is definitely a leadership attribute. 

Through this research, we’re trying to look at leadership theories, some critical thinking frameworks, and how other industries might approach similar types of training. We want to document all that and see how it comes together. 

We’re at the very beginning of putting together this research material. So check back in with us this time next year and we’ll have a little bit better of an understanding of how it all came together. But we’re really excited about that aspect of it. We’re also excited about bringing in one of our top graduate students to help us with that project as well.

Grady Research Radio: Great, so to wrap up here, what if a student wants to embed this certificate program in their schedules? How can they go about doing that? 

Charlotte Norsworthy: The best thing to do is to first talk with your advisor and make sure the 12-hour program that it takes to complete the certificate is manageable and doable with the goals that you have based on your majors, minors and certificates that you may be balancing on top of this program. I would definitely advise you to talk with your academic advisor and make sure that that’s going to work 

I would then say, when you’re on Athena, whenever you’re establishing your majors and your minors, you can also click the drop down and add the Certificate of News Literacy as your certificate to formally establish that. 

After you do that, we’re notified of that formal enrollment and you can start taking your courses starting with JOUR 3030 and work your way through the program from there. 

Keith Herndon: Right. I do want to emphasize one thing that this is different from some certificate programs at the university. It is open enrollment. There’s no application process for our certificate. It’s four courses and all of the courses are always available. There are plenty of seats. There’s no need to have an application process. 

We want to make this simple and easy for any student that has an interest in learning about the news media, news literacy, understanding the leadership attributes around that, and understanding its importance. 

All they have to do is go to Athena and enroll. So as long as you’re a student in good standing at the university, then you can do the certificate. We’re really excited about that. 

We’re in the process now of meeting with advisors at the various colleges and talking about it in classes. We’ve built out a website as part of the Cox Institute so that there’s more information out there. Charlotte has put together a really robust frequently asked questions page. So, you know, anybody can find the information they’re looking for. But it’s an enrollment, as opposed to an application, certificate. 

Charlotte Norsworthy: And it’s a do-it-at-your-own-pace kind of program, which I think is also unique to other certificates. You don’t have to complete it within a semester or a series of semesters. 

There’s a specific order that you take the courses in. But if you start with JOUR 3030 your first semester freshman year, you can wait until your senior year to finish up the three courses if that’s the only space in time that you’ll have. 

We’ve set it up so that it does have an intro course. There are two intermediate courses. Those can be taken in any order. We do prefer that you take the JOUR 3030 Media News and Consumers first. But then you can take News Credibility or Journalism Ethics and Diversity in either order. Once you’ve completed those, you finish it up with the capstone, the Digital Savvy course.

Grady Research Radio: Great. Well, thank you both for your time here today. 

Charlotte Norsworthy: Thanks for having us. 

Keith Herndon: Yeah. Thanks a lot.

New podcast studio opens on first floor

Grady College has converted a space on its first floor into a high-tech podcast studio. The new studio gives students the opportunity to hone their skills in one of the fastest-growing methods of communication. 

Featuring advanced sound equipment, the studio is available for both classroom and student use. It is large enough for Grady College professors to teach podcasting lessons in and available for the College’s students to produce podcasts. 

“This studio represents the massive audience shift to audio storytelling,” said Charlotte Norsworthy, a part-time instructor in Journalism at Grady College and producer of The Lead Podcast. “More and more, audiences are engaging with stories through the ear, and it is incredibly exciting for Grady to be engaging our students in the latest industry developments. I am thrilled to dive into this space with the students.”

The sound isolation booth in the new podcast studio
The sound isolation booth allows students to do voiceover or single-track narration recording. (Photo: Jackson Schroder)

The studio is designed to let up to four students record a live-to-tape podcast together, each with their own microphones and audio monitoring. There is also a sound isolation booth for doing voiceover or single-track narration recording. Students can bring in a laptop, plug in to a high-quality microphone, close the door behind them and have a quiet, clean space to record in.

In the coming months, additions to the space will allow students to record video and seamlessly bring guests in virtually, from outside the room. 

“This is no home studio and it’s a far cry from a closet,” said Kim Landrum, a senior lecturer in Advertising who will be using the new studio in the spring for her Podcast Production and Branding course. “Our students will learn production techniques on the same hardware and software they can expect to find in the industry – and in many cases better. This is the real deal.”

The studio’s construction was organized by Grady College’s chief technology officer, Mark Johnson, who is also a senior lecturer in journalism. 

At the moment, faculty can request access for their students through Mark Johnson at mej@uga.edu. A scheduling system will become available within the coming months. 

 

Cox Institute’s eBook from The Lead Podcast Wins Gold Medals

This story was originally published on the Cox Institute page here.

An eBook featuring excerpts of interviews from The Lead podcast won two gold medals in the 2020 eLit Book Awards competition, which recognizes excellence in digital publishing.

The eBook entitled News Leadership: Conversations about Journalism and its Future was released by Kendall Hunt Publishing in December as a project of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership, which also produces the podcast.

News Leadership received its first gold medal in a current events category for political, economic, legal and media topics. The eBook received its second gold medal in the category recognizing best use of multimedia.

“It was a pleasure to be able to synthesize important leadership and ethical concepts into an interactive tool for journalism students and educators,” said Charlotte Norsworthy, the Cox Institute’s Morris Master’s Fellow, who was the eBook’s lead editor. “By making these concepts more accessible, we are able to better equip students entering a fluctuating news industry.”

The eLit Books Awards, in their eleventh year, are a global awards program open to all members of the electronic publishing industry. The contest is presented by Jenkins Group Inc., a Michigan-based book publishing and marketing services company that has operated the popular Independent Publisher Book Awards contest since 1996. Electronic books written in English and created for the global marketplace were eligible for entry in 65 categories.

News Leadership features insights from established professionals and emerging thought leaders gleaned from their candid conversations with student hosts, including Norsworthy. Their insights offer advice, provide context, and create a sense of optimism for an industry grappling with transformative disruption.

The Lead podcast debuted in the Fall 2016 semester with Daniel Funke as its original student host for the first two semester-length seasons. Nate Bramel and Noelle Lashley took over hosting responsibilities for seasons three and four and Norsworthy led seasons five, six and seven.  In the upcoming season eight, which will debut during the fall semester, Norsworthy moves into the producer’s chair and will direct the episodes featuring the new student host, Caroline Odom.

Guests from The Lead who are featured in the eBook include Pulitzer Prize winners Alex Jones and Nick Chiles, Peabody Award winner Bob Sullivan, local television news legend Monica Kaufman-Pearson and renowned journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. They are among the dozens of guests who share valuable words of advice with the student hosts and their audiences.

“The Lead podcast has evolved into an important educational resource for presenting insights into the leadership challenges confronting the news media,” said Keith Herndon, the Cox Institute’s director and co-editor of the eBook. “We are excited for this work to be recognized with these eLit Book Awards.”

News Leadership can be purchased through Kendall Hunt at https://he.kendallhunt.com/product/news-leadership-conversations-about-journalism-and-its-future

Kendall Hunt Publishing is a family owned and operated publishing company celebrating a 75-years history. The company has an immense library of course content with over 10,000 print and digital titles. For more information about the publisher, visit: http://he.kendallhunt.com.

Norsworthy and Herndon recorded a special bonus episode of The Lead featuring a discussion on the book’s production, which was posted with the book’s release. The episode can be heard here.

Norsworthy Inducted into Sphinx Society, UGA’s Highest Student Honor

Charlotte Norsworthy, a Master’s degree student at Grady College, was inducted this semester into the Sphinx Society, which is recognized as UGA’s highest student honor.

Norsworthy is in her first semester of graduate education, but has already served as the lead editor of a forthcoming digital and audio book on news media leadership and was the co-author of an innovative practice paper presented at the Association for Leadership Educators. She graduated earlier this year from Grady College with a degree in journalism.

Norsworthy serves as the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership as the Morris Masters Fellow, which is a graduate assistantship funded by the Morris Chair in News Strategy and Management.

Norsworthy and the other inductees were honored on the field at the UGA homecoming game on Oct. 19.

The Sphinx Society is the oldest honorary society at the University of Georgia, recognizing students, faculty, staff and alumni who have made significant contributions to the University, the State of Georgia and the nation. Induction into the Sphinx Society is the highest honor a student can receive at UGA.

“It is such an honor to have been inducted into Sphinx Society alongside some incredible peers,” Norsworthy said. “I am so grateful and humbled to continue this esteemed UGA tradition.”

Norsworthy is continuing her education at the graduate level following a stellar performance as a Grady undergraduate.  She received the George M. Abney Honors Award, which goes to the Grady graduating senior who achieved the most impressive record in the university’s honors program.  She was also honored as one of the “Top 100 Student Workers” in recognition of her excellent work as the host and producer of the Cox Institute’s podcast, “The Lead.” That work also led to her receiving the WSB Radio Innovation Award presented by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters. She has continued serving as the podcast’s host this year.

“Charlotte’s decision to continue her education here was a win for the Grady College and the Cox Institute,” said Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute and holder of the Morris Chair. “She continues to pour tremendous effort into her journalism training and into her support of Grady and its programs.”

Before returning to Grady this fall, Norsworthy had a busy summer. She was in New York and Washington, D.C. as part of the Journalism in the Era of Disinformation Fellowship (JED). Following the JED Fellowship, Norsworthy was lead editor of  News Leadership: Conversations about Journalism and its Future, a digital book on media leadership based on the six seasons of interviews from The Lead podcast. The book will be published by Kendall-Hunt later this year.

Norsworthy, who also holds an undergraduate degree in political science, has interned at NPR, Turner Broadcasting and served as a Cox Innovation Fellow assigned to Ian Urbina, an investigative reporter with The New York Times.

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.

 

Norsworthy named to the ONA Student Newsroom for fall conference

Charlotte Norsworthy, a senior journalism major at Grady College, has been selected as one of 20 Newsroom and Innovation Lab students for the 2018 Online News Association Conference and Awards Ceremony.

The Student Newsroom and Innovation Lab immerses undergraduate and graduate college students in a digital media environment by providing hands-on experience during the three-day ONA conference held in Austin, Texas, in September.

Norsworthy successfully completed her undergraduate thesis in virtual reality journalism in December 2017.

Norsworthy has served as an investigative reporter, city news editor and news editor for The Red & Black newspaper. She has also served as president of the Online News Association and Society of Professional Journalists student chapters. This summer, Norsworthy has interned for NPR’s business news desk as a UGA Honors D.C. Program Scholar. She has served as an Innovation Fellow for the Cox Institute for the past year and will continue her fellowship this school year as the host of the podcast, “The Lead.”

Supported for the ninth year by Google News Initiative, the students will produce content and tools for the ONA18 Student Newsroom website before and during the conference under the personal guidance of professional mentors.

As part of the application, students and mentors were asked what they would like to implement as part of their role in the Student Newsroom and Innovation Lab. This innovation ranged from unexpected story ideas, to creative storytelling techniques, to new tools built by participants themselves — these are ideas that live at the intersection of content and product.

Students get the chance to attend conference programming led by experts in digital journalism, network with attendees and acquire and flex new digital media skills. All expenses — lodging, travel and registration fees — are paid.

A complete list of students selected for this honor can be viewed on the ONA conference website.