#ProfilesOfTenacity: Nick Milavec

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study? 

I knew Grady was an amazing school and I wanted to study mass communications. I came in as a Journalism major but switched to Advertising because I was fascinated how my love of art and creating art could intertwine with mass communication into one major. 

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA? 

My mom has 100% had the biggest impact on my life during my time at UGA. She is constantly encouraging me in every endeavor, whether it be a challenge I’m going through or a great thing that happens to me. Her support is unwavering, and I am so grateful for her. She is the true definition of tenacity, and I am proud that I got to learn that from her. 

Who is your professional hero? 

I wouldn’t say I have a specific professional hero. However, the reason I fell in love with the field of advertising and typography was the work of Neville Brody. His posters were what inspired me to fuse my love of art and design with Mass Communication. 

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I never actually toured UGA. I grew up a Georgia Tech fan, and it was my dream to go there. However, once I came to UGA’s campus for a drum major camp my junior year of high school, it just felt like home to me, and I knew it was where I wanted to be. It felt like I didn’t even need to tour because I was so certain. 

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you? 

The word “tenacity” to me means being adaptable. With the immense changes that have seemingly persisted over the last few years, everyone has had to adapt to something new or a new way of doing things. However, tenacity means embracing the need to adapt and trying to do it to the best of your ability in a determined and hardworking fashion. Rather than lamenting on the way of life you had before the need to adapt, tenacity to me means running headfirst into that new way of life and making it as best as possible. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why? 

I absolutely love Bolton Dining Commons. I know it might be an odd place to love, but it is just such a good place for community to thrive and an environment that welcomed me as a freshman. Plus, they make some pretty good food. I keep buying a meal plan year after year because it is somewhere where I can experience a lot of different activities, such as grabbing a quick bite on my way to my car, or finding a table to study at or eating a meal with my friends. At Bolton, you can do it all. 

What are you passionate about? 

I am passionate about loving others and making them feel welcome. If I can make just one person feel at home or accepted on this campus, then that is a successful college career in my book. I believe that God calls us to love others with an unconditional love, and that is what I try to model at all times. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor/mentor/family member? 

The best piece of advice I have ever received is from my mom. It is a spin on the traditional golden rule, which states “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, my mother used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, say something nice anyways.” That is how I try and live my life. Everyone has things about them that deserve to be loved and appreciated, and I believe that in those moments where we could just turn away and say nothing, we should look for those things and respond with kindness and love, because you never know just how much a kind word can do a person’s life. 

What is your favorite app or social media channel and why? 

I would have to say my favorite social media channel/app is Instagram. I love the broad range of content you can encounter on the app. I am someone who is passionate about design and photography, so it is so cool to be able to follow accounts that post content and work relating to those while also being able to keep up with my friends and peers and what they are up to, whether they are in Athens or around the world. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year? 

My proudest moment in the last year was uploading my last pictures to our website after my 8-week-long job as the camp photographer at YMCA Camp High Harbour. I came into the job never having been to camp before and not knowing that the job I was going to do would be so non-stop and taxing. However, when I uploaded the 9,856th and last photo of the summer, I was proud of how I adapted to an environment that was new for me and successfully completed a job that challenged me like no other I’ve ever done. 

Grady InternViews: Drew Hubbard

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.A graphic saying Hubbard is a journalism major working as a Digital and Social Media Intern for Nashville Soccer Club out of Nashville, TN

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I am a digital and social media intern at Nashville Soccer Club this summer. In the internship, I help assist the digital marketing team to help brainstorm social media ideas and execute them on different platforms. I mainly focus on the club’s Facebook account and working on TikTok ideas but also engage with fans on Instagram when they tag the team in Instagram posts or stories. 

The internship is in-person based out of the club’s office in Nashville, but I work remotely as well. Some of the club’s interns will report to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays while myself and other interns report Mondays and Wednesdays while the entire office is remote on Fridays. For all home games, the interns are at the club’s current stadium, Nissan Stadium, while we work from home when the team plays away. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge has been trying to find a unique voice for the team on social media. Because there are so many sports teams in the country, it is important that our club is different and creative to bring fans into our social channels and get engagement across all different platforms. The challenge is finding inspiration from other teams in different leagues, but also having our own voice and content that sets us apart.

Hubbard typing on his laptop from a box overlooking the soccer stadium
Drew focuses on the soccer team’s digital and social media. (Photo: submitted)
What is the most memorable experience you have had during your internship?

The most memorable experience I have had was working at the Mexico-Panama international friendly at Nissan Stadium. Both teams played in Nashville to prepare for their competitive tournaments later in the summer. I was lucky enough to experience an international match and how different it is than a regular Major League Soccer match. There were a lot of Mexican and Panamanian media members I got to work with and learn from while also experiencing an incredible atmosphere for the match. 

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role?

I would say network as much as possible and always be looking to learn new skills or improve the skills you already have. Social media is an evolving field with new things happening all the time. So, being able to learn new platforms and learning how to handle the digital side of things like a website is really important and will set you apart from a lot of other candidates. 

What lessons will you take back with you to Athens in the fall?
Hubbard holding a soccer ball and wearing a Soccer Club scarf in the stadium
Drew has the opportunity to work in person this summer in Nashville. (Photo: submitted)

Going back to Athens, I’ll know better how to work with other people on projects and combine my ideas with their ideas to do our best possible work together. Grady classes are a lot of collaborative work, and I’ll be able to work and communicate with others better because of this experience.

Peabody Awards expand to include new categories for digital and interactive storytelling

The Peabody Awards today introduced the expansion of its award categories to recognize storytelling achievements across interactive, immersive and new media categories. An additional board of ten newly appointed jurors, composed of esteemed industry experts, will lead Peabody in expanding the organization’s long-established pedigree to recognize works in digital and immersive formats. The Peabody Awards, the oldest and most prestigious awards honoring stories that matter in broadcasting and streaming media, are based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia in Athens.

“The foundation of the Peabody Awards is honoring stories that matter. Significant and incredibly creative storytelling is happening beyond legacy media before our eyes. New storytelling techniques and advancements in technology are surpassing the confines of traditional media,” Jeffrey Jones, executive director of Peabody said. “Creators are pioneering new methods to tell powerful stories and reach new audiences, and the achievements are extraordinary. With the introduction of digital and interactive media as its own distinctive category, we’re thrilled to be recognizing groundbreaking and important narratives in these digital spaces,” said Jones.

 The Peabody Interactive Board will identify exemplary projects across an evolving range of formats, including Gaming, Interactive Journalism, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality,  Social Video, Interactive Documentary, Transmedia Storytelling, and more. The inaugural awards will be given to legacy media projects that demonstrate the depth of these new formats, emphasizing the foundational standards for future award winners and highlighting stories that have helped define the digital and interactive genres. Winners of the awards will be announced later this year in a separate celebration from the traditional spring awards ceremony, along with formal details on the submission calendar, eligibility and award categories.

“We believe that impactful stories can come from anywhere, in new and evolving forms that push the limits of our understanding of how to tell stories. This expansion of the Peabody Awards recognizes the variety of storytelling media, and the storytellers who strive to move technology and their audiences into new spaces,” Diana Williams, chairwoman of the new Peabody Interactive Board said.  “Our newly minted board is excited to have the opportunity to award and celebrate these creative contributions to the storytelling form,” said Williams.

Members of the Peabody Interactive Board are:

Diana Williams (Chair), CEO and Co-founder, Kinetic Energy Entertainment. Williams is an award-winning film producer and has a wide range of experience in the entertainment industry. She was the Creative Development and Franchise Producer at Lucasfilm, where she developed film and TV (including Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One), mobile and console video games, and a member of the team that launched ILMxLAB, an immersive entertainment and mixed reality laboratory.

Lars Bastholm, Chief Creative Officer, Story House Egmont. An experienced creative leader whose career spans brands (Google), traditional agencies (Ogilvy), and digital agencies (AKQA), Bastholm’s work as a creative director has garnered many international awards, including 3 Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Jay Bushman, Writer/Producer. Bushman works at the intersection of traditional and emerging formats, and is an Emmy Award winner for his work as a writer and transmedia producer on “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” A contributor to interactive campaigns and experiences for Disney, Paramount, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, Bushman is also well-regarded for his experimental work in social media storytelling — including writing one of the first Twitter novels. He was dubbed as “The Epic Poet of Twitter” by New Scientist Magazine and as an “Enterprising Fabulist” by Vanity Fair.

Aymar Jean Christian, PhD., Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University. A scholar of how the web brought innovation to television in opening development to independent producers, Christian is co-founder of OTV | Open Television, a research project and platform for intersectional television, and OTV Studio, an incubator for intersectional film & television. This work has received recognition from the Television Academy, and has been programmed in partnership with the Sundance Institute and the city of Chicago.

Katerina Cizek, Artistic Director and Co-founder, Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab. For over a decade, Cizek worked as a documentary director at the National Film Board of Canada, transforming the organization into a world-leading digital hub, with the projects HIGHRISE and Filmmaker-in-Residence. She has served as an advisor at the Sundance Institutes’ New Frontier Lab and Stories of Change Program as well as CPH:DOX and ESoDoc. Cizek is a Peabody and two-time Emmy-winning documentarian.

Amy Hennig, President, New Media Division at Skydance Media. A thirty-year veteran of the game industry, Hennig has served as Creative Director and Lead Writer on numerous titles, including Naughty Dog’s acclaimed Uncharted series and Crystal Dynamics’ groundbreaking Soul Reaver / Legacy of Kain franchise. She recently announced a partnership with Skydance Media to explore new frontiers in interactive storytelling.

Al Shaw, Editor, News Applications at ProPublica. Shaw has been a developer and reporter of digital news for over a decade. At ProPublica, he uses data and maps to tell interactive stories about the environment, natural disasters and politics. His work has been honored with a Peabody Award, a gold medal from the Society for News Design, multiple silver medals from Malofiej and a Sigma Delta Chi Award from SPJ. He is a two-time Livingston Award Finalist and was part of a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Kamal Sinclair, Executive Director of the Guild of Future Architects. Sinclair is co-author of Making a New Reality, and artist at Sinclair Futures. She served as External Advisor to MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism & Media Program and Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, Creative Advisor to For FreedomsMIT’s Center for Advanced VirtualityStarfish Accelerator, and Eyebeam. Previously, she directed Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program, which supports artists working at the convergence of film, art, media and technology. Sinclair was an artist and producer on Question Bridge: Black Males, which had an interactive website and curriculum; published book; and installation exhibited in 60+ museums/festivals.

Sara Thacher, Creative Director and Senior R&D Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering. In her current role, Thacher works with engineers, computer scientists, architects, artists, and inventors to fashion new technology into revolutionary guest experiences. Her work at Imagineering R&D includes leadership on the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser two-day immersive experience and the TEA Award winning Haunted Mansion: Ghost Post. Previously, she served as Executive Producer and Designer at Nonchalance where she co-created the groundbreaking experience, The Jejune Institute.

Lance Weiler, Co-founder and Director, Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab. An alumnus of the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, Weiler is recognized as a pioneer in mixing storytelling and technology. Wired magazine named him “one of 25 people helping to reinvent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood.” His projects include Collapsus: The Energy Risk Conspiracy, Body/Mind/Change in collaboration with David Cronenberg, Frankenstein AI, Where There’s Smoke, and Bear 71.

Respected for its integrity and revered for its standards of excellence, the Peabody is an honor like no other for television, podcast/radio, and digital media. The Peabody Awards were founded in 1940 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and are still based in Athens today.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Jake Strickland

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I came to UGA as a political science major. And I love politics, but I just felt like there was something missing in my coursework. Did I want to add journalism or international affairs? And then – lo and behold – Twitter of all places had a major impact on my decision. One of my friends got into the public relations program here at Grady and tweeted about it. I got to researching what exactly PR was and quickly came to realization that this is what I had been wanting to learn. I now understand that my true passion is for political communications, and Grady has helped me explore this passion, especially with its Public Affairs Communications certificate headed by Professor Watson.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I’m not from Texas – when I say I’m from Dallas, I have to immediately follow it up with Georgia!

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment of the year was balancing an internship and part-time job over the summer. I was pretty much working seven days a week, and while it was exhausting, I was grateful to learn more about the public relations industry while making money to support myself at college.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

My most memorable Grady experience has been taking Professor Watson’s Civil Rights class. Analyzing the civil rights movement from a public relations perspective has made me more aware of just how much patience and determination is required to stir change. 

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

Twitter! I get a lot of my news from Twitter, and a lot of my laughs as well.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about LGBTQ+ equality, particularly in education. Growing up, my favorite subject was almost always history. This can be explained by my love of storytelling, but I eventually realized there was one story that was always altogether ignored: the important contributions that LGBTQ+ people have made in shaping this world. And it’s a shame because we have pretty remarkable stories to tell: Stonewall, Harvey Milk and Marsha P. Johnson, just to name a few. I hope that future generations will be taught this remarkable history, because it’ll make queer youth feel more involved in their curriculum. It’ll make them feel that yes, they can contribute in meaningful ways too.

Who is your professional hero?

I love The Devil Wears Prada, and so I’d say my professional hero is Miranda Priestly. This was difficult for me because I relate more to Andy, but Miranda is so aspirational — she has it all together while managing an international conglomerate. She doesn’t let her emotions get in the way, and she’s not afraid to ask for what she wants. A true icon.

What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

I used a lot of my skills at The Partnership of Atlanta, Inc. where I served as a public relations intern during summer 2020. I wrote several press releases, blogs and social posts, and even pitched stories to journalists from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Partnership is Atlanta’s fastest growing digital communications agency, and so I was thankful for so many people there taking me under their wings and showing me the ropes of PR.

 What are you planning on doing after graduating? What is your dream job?

I plan on getting my bachelor’s in May 2022, and then I’ll stick around Athens one more year to get my master’s in public relations. I’m in the Double Dawgs program, and so I’m excited to see where this dual degree will be able to take me. 

In the short term, I would like to work in Washington, D.C. as a congressional staffer or in some other communications capacity. In the long term though, I want my career to be that of a change maker. As an openly gay man living in the South, my existence would not be possible without the change makers that came before me, and I want to be a change maker for the generations to come.

What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?

Networking, for sure. There’s just not as many opportunities to network, and it’s especially difficult over Zoom. I also miss networking with fellow Grady students who share similar passions and career interests as me. One thing I will say though is that the pandemic has made me much more confident in reaching out to people. How else are you supposed to connect if you don’t reach out?

Where is your favorite place on campus?

The Founder’s Garden. There’s something so regal about it, and it’s great for photoshoots.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Kyra Posey

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor/mentor/family member?

In my capstone course in the fall of 2020, Professor Dodie Cantrell-Bickley told us to try our hand at multiple platforms in order to tell our stories — video, audio, data journalism, etc. She said that we should try these even if we had never before because, as she said, “the weakest muscles need to be exercised.” She repeated this a few times in the semester, and it’s something that really encouraged me to try new ways to tell stories. In my career after graduation, I think I’ll always remember that it’s okay to try new things, even if it’s scary!

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I knew that I wanted to be in the field of journalism when I entered college, and I knew that Grady’s program had produced many success stories. I was inspired by my upperclassmen friends who said the professors at Grady were some of the best they had ever had, and I could tell I would have an incredible support system here. It turns out that they were right — my faculty mentors have come from the school, and I’ve been able to hone in on my journalistic skills under their advice and leadership.

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

My favorite app is definitely TikTok. So many incredible stories can be told on that platform, and it’s so addicting.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

My most memorable Grady experience was studying abroad at Trinity College in Oxford, England. Ivanka Pjesivac was our professor teaching international communications, and while we were there, we were able to visit London’s CNN Bureau and the Reuter’s Institute in Oxford. Learning about international communications and speaking with some of the best in professional communications was an incredible hands-on learning experience, and it really opened my eyes to the global news flow. Professor Pjesivac really prioritized telling us about global communications across multiple fields (advertising, entertainment, journalism and more), and I’m not sure if I ever would have chosen a course like that unless I had studied abroad. Plus, I made some of my closest friends there.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I only have one kidney that was removed when I was 4 years old, and because it was removed when I was so young, my other kidney grew twice the size of a normal adult’s kidney. It’s a super kidney!

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

In fall 2020, I placed third in the Associated Collegiate Press’ Multimedia category for my work on The Red & Black’s podcast, “The Front Page.” I covered a week of protests for racial justice happening in Athens last summer. I worked really hard on that podcast and that episode specifically, and I was so glad that this important story was recognized.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about storytelling, and I want to apply my skills to support compelling narratives. This can really be seen in how I’ve applied my skills to my work throughout the years — I moved from reporter to podcast producer to social media editor at The Red & Black, where I learned how my skills could support the organization I worked for. Now, as CNN Audio’s marketing intern, I’ve learned how to use marketing and my communication skills in order to support world class storytelling. Plus, you can always find me listening to a podcast or reading through the headlines. I love consuming stories and great journalism!

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Red & Black has had the biggest impact on my life during my undergraduate career. It is truly the best place to hone in on your journalistic skills. While Grady’s courses provide essential training, having the ability to work in a professional newsroom is invaluable. I was able to find out what I was truly interested in when I moved up from contributor to a member of the editorial board. I eventually pitched, produced and marketed The Red & Black’s podcast “The Front Page,” and talking about that experience led me to a role at CNN Audio. I now hope to pursue post-graduate opportunities in podcasting and radio. If it weren’t for The Red & Black, I’m not sure if I ever would have discovered this interest.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

North Campus is my favorite place on campus. When it gets warm, my favorite thing to do is get milk tea from Bubble Café downtown and study on the North Campus lawn. After I leave Athens, it’ll definitely be the thing I miss the most.

What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?

The hardest thing about COVID-19 has been everything being virtual. Last semester, I had major Zoom fatigue, and I found it hard at times to stay motivated. However, something that has been an upside to this virtual environment is that you can really connect with anyone in the world! I’ve been able to network with people in New York, and at CNN, I frequently network with people that I might have never met if the internship wasn’t virtual. 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Rohit Rammohan

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently. In my mind, it means striving despite the circumstances to be the best version of yourself, whether that means being the best classmate, student, friend or family member. Especially given the times we live in now, to me, tenacity is one of the most important characteristics you can have as a person.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA? 

I don’t think it’s possible for me to choose just one person. If left to me, I’d say that it has been every member of the New Media Institute and the amazing members of WUOG.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

I’d have to say the day I presented my capstone app’s beta version for the first time along with my team last semester. I walked into this program with almost no knowledge of coding whatsoever, so I thought, probably incorrectly in retrospect given the amazing help I’ve had from my team (shoutout to Andy Johnston and Crysta Jones), that this would be the most uphill task I’d ever have to undertake.

What is your most memorable Grady experience? 

I think that it would be the day I first walked into the New Media Institute at Grady last summer. It was at the start of one of the most uncertain times the world as we know now is seeing. I had just finished online classes for the summer, and I wasn’t sure how classes would be held in the fall. When they announced some in-person classes for the fall and when I walked into Grady for the first time and into the NMI, the warm welcome I received instantly made me feel like I belonged there.

Who is your professional hero?

I actually have two of them. One of them is Steve Jobs. I mean, the company he’s built and his ideas have literally taken over the world. Another one is Elon Musk. His ideas may be crazy and out-of-the-box, but they’re also revolutionary.

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I’ve always been passionate about the field of Media & Entertainment. A few years ago, I was a web journalist for a short bit writing headline stories and that showed me just how much I enjoyed being able to share stories that mean something to the world. I’ve also been interested and passionate about technology, particularly newer and emerging forms of technology for as long as I can remember. The course at Grady to me appeared to be a one-of-a-kind particularly suited to my tastes and interests.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

I’m torn on this one. A part of me wants to say the North Campus quad since it’s so quiet and serene when you consider what’s on the other side of the quad. The other part of me wants to say that it’s the WUOG lobby at Tate.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

When I was a kid, my parents always used to tell me that by listening more than I speak, I can learn a lot more about a person and that it was also the easiest way to make friends. Till today, I still carry that lesson with me and it’s proven more invaluable than not.

What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?

I’d have to say the idea of adapting to working and learning remotely. I’ve always felt that I work so much better when I’m actually sitting in a classroom learning or in an office with my teammates hashing out details. I’d also say it’s the fact that I’ve really had to reduce in-person interaction with my friends. 

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

I don’t really use social media much but I’ve found that Twitter is pretty useful to catch up with everything going on in the world.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

In a past life, before everything that’s going on in the world now, I used to absolutely love traveling. I’ve travelled to I think nine different countries and over 20 cities, and I have a list of several more I want to visit at the first available opportunity.

Black History Month Alumni Spotlight: Tamara Best (ABJ ’09)

Editor’s Note:  This is one in a series of spotlights highlighting the work of some of our alumni in celebration of Black History Month. Please watch for more profiles in the weeks to come.

Tamara Best works as a culture writer, editor and creative. She was recently named as a 2021 Nieman visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Best will conduct research on centralized social media hubs that can be used to create outlets for civic engagement among underrepresented communities.

What does Black History Month mean to you? 

Black History Month is both an opportunity to pause for deeper reflection and also an extension of what it means to live with a sense of purpose. It’s a mindfulness of history, both the individual and communal senses that have shaped my lived reality. In concert they are also a reminder of the obligations I have to plant seeds of progress for the future. So often narratives and discussions around Black history are centered on liberation movements. It goes without saying those are important, particularly given the omissions within the educational system. But equally as important are explorations — historical and present day — of Black excellence, joy and the cultivation and preservation of community. 

What clubs and activities did you participate in at UGA and Grady that were instrumental to your success as a career professional?
Tamara Best has moderated discussions for Spotify, Showtime, Third Horizon Film Festival, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art and more.

Being a Grady Ambassador and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists have been instrumental in my success thus far as a professional. 

The ambassador program really provides students with the unique opportunity to engage with the college on a deeper level, both in the participatory sense of events but also in serving as a front-facing leader on behalf of Grady. That experience helped me understand the intersections between broader organizational strategy and priorities and how those things are manifested in a leadership role.

Of all my experiences, NABJ played a singular role in my post-Grady career. From the collaborative work done within the organization and across UGA, it really provided a chance to create meaningful work. Perhaps more important than that, it was a second family for me at UGA. It was one of the first instances where I saw real value and the necessity of cultivating a professional home in an industry where few people looked like me. Over the last decade, it has been the second homes I have cultivated that have nourished and sustained me in the midst of success, disappointment and difficult news days.

What does the recent movement to continue the fight for racial justice mean to you personally and professionally?

Well, I would say the fight isn’t recent but rather a different iteration in an ongoing fight that has been happening in this country since 1619. However, the last year has been a reminder that the professional is personal and the personal is professional. As a Black woman in America there is no leaving my identity at the door in whatever space I enter. I have been reminded, professionally in particular, of how well-intentioned and yet misguided people can be in their desire to be allies. And in those moments, and on weeks when the news is particularly difficult, I am reminded that I can choose me without explanation. That I can, and have to for my well-being, unplug from the cacophony of social media, headlines and the education of others. Instead, I can retreat to the safety of my loved ones or the spaces that nourish my spirit. We all have a part to play in a more just and equal society, and I’m reminded that how and when I choose to engage personally and professionally is for me to determine. Like a sea, it ebbs and flows and has different iterations; all are needed and all are valuable.

What skills, values or circumstances do you attribute to your success?

Flexibility has been a critical skill that has attributed to my success thus far. When I graduated, the country was in the depths of a recession and jobs were scant. While I had ideas and ideals about what I wanted to do, I had a list of skills I wanted to learn. At every juncture and opportunity I would start with the end in mind. “When I move onto the next role, what skills will I want to take with me, that will serve me well regardless of what I end up doing?” Having that POV has enabled me to be nimble and take chances in ways that I am not sure I would have otherwise.

For me, I have been always very clear around the values of why I became a journalist. It is different for everyone but I think having a clear sense of your core why allows you to navigate your career with a clear sense of purpose and integrity. As a result you evaluate opportunities and challenges not just in terms of how they serve you and your goals but how they fulfill the sense of higher calling on your career. The singular circumstance that has defined my career was an internship at The New York Times. That opportunity led to full-time employment there shortly after graduation and with it a whole host of opportunities that have shaped my life personally and professionally. It was my first real professional home and for that I will always be grateful.

New class teaches digital literacy tools to combat information disorder

A new Grady College course is equipping students with skills needed to discern between truth and misinformation when consuming digital media.

“Media Savvy: Becoming Digitally Literate” is an online summer class taught by Amanda Bright, academic professional in journalism.

“Current events are creating this course,” Bright said. “Although misinformation is hardly new, the current trends with media manipulation are sophisticated, which means we must become more media savvy.”

The course is a real-time case study as much of the discussion revolves around the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 elections and nationwide protests about race and inequality.

“We are in a moment where this misinformation conversation is not just useful but essential,” Bright said.

Amanda Bright teaches the course. She was the 2019 journalism teacher of the year.

The first words of the course syllabus are: “Clickbait. Deepfakes. Disinformation, Bias, Hoaxes. Fake News.,” giving the 25 enrolled students an immediate glimpse at the subjects examined in the class.

Bright refers to digital literacy as the tools needed to distinguish truth amid information disorder.

“If people do not have correct information, they cannot make correct decisions,” said Bright.

Students are becoming familiar with resources designed to help journalists earn trust such as First Draft and Trusting News, both organizations with prior partnerships with Grady College. The course introduces terminology, context, tools and techniques to develop media literacy and understand the role of journalism in society.

“Hopefully by the end of this class, I hope you can feel like you can have constructive conversations with the people in your life that you may feel like are off-base on this topic,” Bright tells her students in the class’ introductory video.

Many Grady College alumni volunteered their knowledge and time to help students in the class. Meredith Anderson (ABJ ’01) from WRDW, Ivan Aronin (ABJ ’86) from Main Strett News, Chase Cain (ABJ ’05) from NBCLX, Lisa Fu (AB ’17) from FundFire, Daniel Funke (ABJ ’17) from PolitiFact, Randi Hildreth (ABJ ’12) from WBRC, Linda Hurtado (ABJ ’89) from WTVT, Robert Hydrick (ABJ ’84) from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety  Stephanie Gallman Jordan (ABJ ’02) from CNN, Joshua Ninke (ABJ ’11) from KBTX, Maddie Ray (AB ’19) from WXIA, Casey Rose (AB ’09) from WHAS, Kelsey Russo (ABJ ’19) from The Athletic, Sheeka Sanahori (ABJ ’06) from Lonely Planet, Sydney Shadrix (MA ’19) from KLTV all offered to be interviewed by students. Each student is paired with a professional to have a wide-ranging conversation about how journalists fact-check and build trust with audiences.

After being equipped with digital literacy skills, students are charged with analyzing a digital media content for their final project. They are asked to explain their findings, recommend steps to improve understanding for the audience and predict what should happen next in digital media verification.

Whitney Phillips: “The Ambivalence Effect”

Whitney Phillips, one of the most important internet scholars in the field presents, “The Ambivalence Effect.” Her talk will explore how digital media can help and harm, bring together and push apart, and make laugh and make angry in equal measure. Most significant to the current political climate, it will show how these media can equally facilitate and restrict voice. Not only do digital spaces and tools empower hate groups like the white nationalist alt-right and extremist figures like Milo Yiannopoulos, they also empower progressive push back against these same groups and figures – along with a whole range of folkloric play that eludes easy classification. By foregrounding the fundamental ambivalence of digital media, the talk  will demonstrate that there are no easy solutions, and no simplistic, one-size-fits-all answers, to pressing questions about free expression, democratic participation, and issues of basic safety on the contemporary internet.

Whitney Phillips has a PhD from the University of Oregon and her book, “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture” (MIT Press, 2015) was the 2016 winner of the Association of Internet Researcher’s Nancy Baym Book Award.

Please RSVP to the event on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1876951462584881. Presented by the Culture Club.