Covering social justice, with Dr. Denetra Walker

 
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A photo of Denetra Walker in the front lawn of Grady College, leaning up against the stair railing.
Denetra Walker, assistant professor, Journalism, Grady College. (Image: Sarah Freeman)

Dr. Denetra Walker, an assistant professor in the Journalism Department, started her role in fall 2022. While she’s still new to the College, her research draws from years of experience both studying the topic of social justice journalism and working in several behind-the-scenes roles in television news markets in Augusta, Georgia, New York, Houston, Las Vegas and Columbia, South Carolina. 

Walker’s research focuses on the experiences of journalists of color and those who are marginalized and underrepresented in the news media. She’s interested in how protests and movements, such as Black Lives Matter, and historic events, such as the civil rights and women’s rights movements, have been portrayed by news organizations. 

She looks at what and how news organizations are covering those events in real time, as well as what it is like for, specifically journalists of color, covering things that are so close to their lived experiences.

Learn more about Walker’s work. Listen to the podcast on Anchor, or your preferred audio streaming platform, by clicking here or following the links above.

Denetra Walker brings social justice journalism research to Grady College

A semester after teaching her first class at Grady College, Denetra Walker is energized by the responsibility and anticipating the opportunities that lie ahead.

Walker has a passion for teaching DEI issues in the classroom, and specifically, sharing her research and expertise about how marginalized and under-represented journalists cover digital age, social justice, activism, police shootings and maternal health. She addresses the importance of representation in the classroom both openly and confidently.

“Being one of the few Black professors on the tenure track is a gift I don’t take lightly,” Walker says.

Walker joined the Department of Journalism as an assistant professor after earning her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. Although she is new to the tenure-track position, Walker is very familiar with social justice journalism after researching the topic for several years and working in several behind-the-scenes roles in television news markets including Augusta, Georgia; New York; Houston; Las Vegas; and Columbia, South Carolina.

She has presented research at regional and national Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conferences which include 8 top paper awards. Her research is published in Journalism PracticeSocial Media + Society, JournalismCultural Studies<–>Critical Methodologies, and the Journal of Sports Media.

When asked what her students can expect from her in class, she doesn’t hesitate: “My students can expect honesty, accountability and transparency. The biggest lesson they will go away with is that they are uniquely made and that the world that we live in may not always understand where you come from and what you want to do, but you should always embrace who you are and be able to listen and tell the stories of others.”

Mentoring students is at the heart of Walker’s work, and it’s apparent how well she connects with students, whether she is teaching her Social Justice Journalism class or talking in the hall with a group of Black students coming out of an NABJ meeting.

“I didn’t have a lot of people who were like me in the classroom,” Walker, a first generation graduate, said assuming a role and setting an example for those around her.

Walker earned a master’s degree in communications and journalism from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in Radio/Television from Sam Houston State University. Walker is also part of The Lift Project, a study led by the University of Minnesota, addressing misinformation in news stories and their effect in Black communities.


Denetra Walker’s Fall 2022 Social Justice Journalism class created the following podcast feature talking about what they learned during the semester. Take a listen.


Denetra Walker teaches a Special Justice Journalism class in Fall 2022. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)