Student journalists at The Oglethorpe Echo are finalists for awards

Student journalists at The Oglethorpe Echo are finalists for the 2021-22 Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) Awards.

The paper was notified that its journalists were finalists in two categories: the Game-Changer Award/Small Division and the Insight Award for Visual Journalism.

In addition to this recognition for visual journalism, The Oglethorpe Echo has also been nominated as a top contender in the Media Award category by the Georgia Health Care Association and Georgia Society of Activity Professionals. The nomination is based on a series of photos of residents at Quiet Oaks retirement facility taken by Julia Walkup.

Portrait of Marcus Goolsby
Marcus Goolsby, a 98-year-old resident of Quiet Oaks Healthcare Center in Crawford, Georgia, poses for a portrait at the healthcare center on March 26, 2022. This is one of a series of portraits that has been nominated for a Media Award by the Georgia Health Care Association and the Georgia Society of Activity Professionals. It was taken by Julia Walkup, a photojournalism student, as part of the Woodall Weekend Workshop.
(Photo: Julia Walkup)

Both the photos represented in the Insight Award for Visual Journalism and the photos at Quiet Oaks were published in The Oglethorpe Echo as part of the Woodall Weekend Workshop, a program where advanced photojournalism students cover a specific county in Georgia each spring and report on stories vital to that area. The workshop took place in Oglethorpe County in April 2022.

“It is gratifying for the students’ work to be recognized when we haven’t even completed a calendar year yet,” said Amanda Bright, academic professional and assistant editor for The Oglethorpe Echo.  “To have our name being thrown around with so many other amazing nonprofits is great exposure for our students,” Bright added of the INN awards.

Bright said that the INN organization includes nearly 400 nonprofit news organizations including several large publications including ProPublica, Texas Tribune and Canopy Atlanta making it gratifying to be in such good company.

“We just joined a few months ago and it’s a very competitive application just to join,” Bright continued. “INN has a lot of requirements about what you need to be a nonprofit and transparent and have journalistic ethics.”

The Game-Changer Award is presented to an organization that produced an innovative idea or practice that led to success in revenue, audience growth or sustainable financial support of news. Bright explained that since the first issue of The Oglethorpe Echo was published with the students in early November 2021, they have also developed a full website, an e-newsletter and several social media channels including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to promote their videos. The social media accounts were started by The Oglethorpe Echo intern Mackenzie Tanner and the website, newsletter and YouTube channel were created by journalism graduate student Alex Anteau.

Bright explains there are several video reports and audio slide shows on the YouTube channel and that one of the areas the students talk about in class is pitching story ideas, including multi-media stories.

The Oglethorpe Echo is the only publication in the Game-changer category so it is expected the paper will win the $500 prize award.

The Insight Award for Visual Journalism honors a single story or a series of stories that uses photography and/or other visual media to more accurately portray a community that has traditionally been under-represented or mis-represented in news media. The Oglethorpe Echo is nominated for work that photojournalism students Sydney Fordice (AB ’22) for a video slide show with narration called “King overcomes health issues to win crown,” and Basil Terhune was nominated for a series of photos and short story called “Never-ending egg hunt.”

The winners for all categories of INN Awards will be announced Sept. 21. The winners of the Georgia Health Care Association and Georgia Society of Activity Professionals will be announced Sept. 22.

In the Fall of 2021, The Oglethorpe Echo, a weekly newspaper serving Oglethorpe County, was preparing to shut its doors. Dink NeSmith (ABJ ‘70) stepped in and created a non-profit organization, The Oglethorpe Echo Legacy, Inc., with a Board of Advisers to keep the paper operational. Part of the plan was to provide Grady College students taking the capstone journalism class the experience to do all the reporting and photojournalism under the direction of Bright and Andy Johnston, editor-in-residence.

INN members are 501c(3) organizations or similarly structured to provide news as a charitable service or public good. They set and meet membership standards that include journalistic quality, editorial independence and public transparency around the sources of their funding and their control.

Girl throws seed as she is feeding a group of chickens in a farmyard.
Tamita Brown throws non-GMO feed to chickens on Caribe United, her farm in Crawford, Georgia. This photo is from a photo essay produced by Basil Terhune as part of the annual Woodall Weekend Workshop, put on by the University of Georgia’s visual journalism program. It has been nominated for a visual journalism award by the Institute for Nonprofit News. (Photo: Basil Terhune)

There for the Big Games: Red & Black staff discuss covering the Orange Bowl and National Championship

Editor’s Note: The following article, written by Eva Pound for The Red & Black, features several of its reporters and photojournalists who covered the UGA football team’s playoff and championship games. We are reprinting it here with permission from The Red & Black since many of those featured are Grady College students or recently-graduated alumni including Jessica Gratigny, Drew Hubbard (AB ’21), Jake Jennings (AB ’21), Katherine Lewis and Kathryn Skeean.


The Red & Black is an independent, private, student-run newsroom, and we are grateful for the experiential opportunities it provides for students.


It originally appeared on The Red & Black website January 25, 2022.

Covering a high-profile championship game is a challenge in itself, but for Red & Black reporters heading to the Orange Bowl, complications arose well before they reached Miami. At the last minute, their flight was cancelled thanks to bad weather and the surge in the omicron variant.

“I was literally at Target getting flight-friendly shampoo and conditioner the second I got the text. I knew at that moment that our adventure got a little more interesting,” said Kathryn Skeean, photo editor.

“We all met in Athens to make the trip by car,” said Katherine Lewis, assistant sports editor. A full day of driving later, Skeean, Lewis and sports editor Drew Hubbard arrived in Miami to cover the game.

“That trip with Katherine Lewis and Drew Hubbard is one I will cherish forever, though,” Skeean said. “It’s hard not to bond with people you’re trapped in a car with for 12-plus hour drives.”

Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny ready to take pictures at the National Championship game.
Red & Black photo editor Kathryn Skeean (foreground) and assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny at the National Championship in Indianapolis in January 2022. Skeean and Gratigny are journalism students at Grady College. (Photo courtesy Kathryn Skeean)

The buzz around the game can cause an onset of nerves for student reporters, Hubbard said. “The challenge of covering big games like this is making sure you don’t make the moment too big, because that will freak you out and then you won’t be in the right mindset to write your stories. If I allow stress and imposter syndrome to get the best of me, then I won’t be able to produce my best work for these big games.”

Amid the national spotlight on titan football teams going head to head, student reporters must act professionally, skillfully generate stories and photographs and get into “game mode,” said Skeean.

As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs led with a score of 34-11 against the Wolverines.

“In my opinion, the most memorable moment was when I realized that Georgia was going to win and that I would be covering a team that had a shot at a national title,” Lewis said.

While photographing action on the field was exciting for Skeean, one of her highlights came during the post-game celebration, when players were tossing out oranges from the namesake trophy, and one player picked up an orange to take a bite.

“Watching Jordan Davis make a normal sized orange look like a Cutie, though, is not a blur,” said Skeean. “I saw him pick it up and I vividly remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can’t miss this moment, this is gold.’ It has since become one of my more iconic photos, and I still crack up every time I see it.”

Skeaan’s photo of Jordan Davis snacking on an orange was the image on the front page of the digital Red & Black special edition produced a few days later, while a shot of quarterback Stetson Bennett ran on the print edition A1.


View photos from the National Championship on The Red & Black website. Photos by Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny.

Onward to Indy

When it came to the national title game between Georgia and Alabama, air travel once again became a problem. Tickets were limited, prices exorbitant and the threat of cancellations high. So the team once again opted for a road trip, with Skeean and Hubbard joined by assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny and assistant sports editor Jake Jennings.

“Just like the Orange Bowl, the National Championship game was such a blur. The first half was a battle photographically purely because of the lack of offensive action,” Skeean said. “As great as Jack Podlesny and Will Reichard are at kicking the ball through the uprights, that does not exactly make for the greatest photo gallery in the world. As we all know, the second half was a different story.”

After a battle of field goals, the action picked up in the second half of the game. “The most memorable moment from this whole postseason run was probably Kelee Ringo’s interception in the National Championship to seal the win,” Hubbard said. “Alabama still had a shot to win the game, it wasn’t a great shot but it was still possible. Georgia fans know that it’s not over until it’s over, and for sports writers, that’s true as well.”

“Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it is the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.” 
— Drew Hubbard, Red & Black sports editor

For Jennings, a highlight was the post-game player interviews. “They were so pumped up and gave really good quotes.”

As the Red & Black team made the long drive back to Athens the day after the game, a small team was at work in the newsroom on Baxter Street putting together the special edition on the national title win. The reporters made a stop on the way to get a strong enough Wi-Fi connection to upload photos and download PDFs of page proofs to review. “Working on the paper out of a Starbucks on the way home was pretty crazy, but was a cool experience,” Jennings said.

Start the presses

“I went to the printers with Charlotte. We watched the papers come off the machine and I saw the photo I had taken on the front. It was surreal,” Skeean said. “We both got emotional. I thought the emotions would end there, but boy, was I wrong. Seeing people lined up all the way down Baxter Street to pick up the paper the next day was the craziest feeling ever, and I could not be more grateful.”

Hubbard said a lot of work goes into preparing to cover a big football game, and it can be tiring. But, he added: ”Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it was the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.”

One for the history books

The work of the sports and photo team is not ending with the special edition. They are working with the Red & Black special publications team on a 100-page book to be released in February. “Delivered,” will capture the championship run, title game and recap the season, showcasing a semester of reporting and photography.

“The Red & Black has given me so much and I’ll always be grateful for my time at this paper. Not just the postseason run, but every sport I’ve gotten to cover,” Hubbard says. “Covering equestrian, softball, soccer and baseball were some of the best times, too. Now, looking back at my whole time at the paper, being able to cover one of the most historic wins in Georgia sports history is something I’ll always cherish and The Red & Black gave me that experience. I learned so much about journalism, life and leadership, and I will always be thankful for my time here.”

NMI students thrive in Innovation District

Nicholas Kreitz pours a cup of coffee, exchanges a few words with his boss as they pass one another by the kitchenette and slings his backpack over his shoulder as he heads to his office.

His office is in the new University of Georgia Delta Innovation Hub, a sleek renovated warehouse with high ceilings, exposed brick and glass walls that invite passers-by to view the collaboration and idea formulation taking place within the collaborative spaces.

Kreitz’s office is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling white boards, which don’t look very white because there is so much blue, red and green writing: numerals and jargon and dates that appear to be haphazardly recorded, but most likely make sense to those who need to read them.


Through the Innovation Hub and the larger Innovation District ecosystem, Kreitz lives in a dual universe. First and foremost, he is a student studying data science in Franklin College and earning a certificate through the New Media Institute at Grady College. Secondly, he is a machine learning intern with, a burgeoning software development company dedicated to matching medical professionals with health care providers looking to hire. Kreitz is one of three interns working on web and app development, coding and user interface among other technology tasks. In their time together, they have improved functionality and algorithms of the app, created an applicant tracking system, and are building an iOS app that will be launched soon.

Gaining professional experience on campus in a tech field is an opportunity Kreitz does not take for granted.

“It’s been a great experience being here,” Kreitz said. “Being on campus and being one of the first companies and first students to be involved with that is an honor.”

The chance to earn a paycheck for a job that will set the stage for his future career, isn’t bad either.

Built in the 1940s for the Cofer Seed Co., the Spring Street building is the Innovation Hub today.

“Earning money through the actual field I want to have a career in versus working at a restaurant is one of the greatest things,” he continued. “I have worked different retail and service jobs, but this one feels like I am just doing something that I love, and I don’t even realize I am at work.”

Tapping into student talent

The accessibility to tap into student talent was a huge draw for Scott Edwards, an alumnus of Family & Consumer Sciences, when he considered returning to Athens as one of UGA’s inaugural entrepreneurial companies in the Innovation Hub. Edwards, CEO and co-founder of and its parent company, Adaptive Medical Partners, relocated product development for Metropolis from Irving, Texas.

“It was really interesting to me that you could give projects to the students that were real life problems, real world issues, and they could get class credit [for solving them],” Edwards said.

The Innovation District is an initiative by the University of Georgia to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and learning. Among the goals of the program are a focus on increasing university and industry collaboration, while providing experiential learning opportunities for students.

The New Media Institute at Grady College is a partner organization with the Innovation District and Chris Gerlach, an academic professional with NMI, serves on the Innovation District Advisory Council.

Scott Edwards talks about the compass, or direction, of the Metropolis projects.

Edwards met Gerlach when Metropolis was considering the move to Athens and was impressed with the possibilities the NMI students could provide his young start-up.

“NMI has found me probably the best software engineers I have ever worked with,” Edwards said. “They have exceeded my expectations in every way. They help me chase that vision and they do it with unbelievable coding, user interface, user experience and machine learning components.” calls itself a marketplace for healthcare jobs. It matches doctors and other healthcare professionals with providers who are hiring. The service meets a demand that is frequently constrained due to lack of time by physicians to look for jobs. Because of the sensitive nature of healthcare providers moving, all parties remain anonymous until the match has been made.

NMI identified Kreitz and fellow NMI student Aries Aviles, a computer science major, as students who had the skills, initiative and education Edwards was seeking. They had both taken a combination of iOS app development and rich media production classes through the NMI and had a strong foundation in new media production. Edwards interviewed and hired them for internships before moving to Athens.

Aviles recommended classmate Calvin Butson, a data and computer science major, when the need for someone with increased knowledge of artificial intelligence and machine learning became apparent.

“As a team we’ve looked at what we’ve accomplished and we are just amazed,” Aviles said. “We are learning new computer languages together that we haven’t learned before, but we are also branching out and pushing the boundaries about what can we do and what can we create.”

Since their internships started in the summer, Edwards has been so impressed with their work that he invited the trio back this fall. And, while they packed in 40+-hour work weeks during the summer, the work load has gone down to 20-hours a week while school is in session.

“That’s the biggest challenge working with the students,” Edwards reluctantly admits. “School gets in the way…but, school comes first and I would have it no other way,” Edwards adds.

Scaling Up and Looking Ahead

The team of interns that Edwards has gathered has proven that the model works that UGA envisioned when starting the Innovation District, and he has full confidence in their abilities.

“If I dream it, they can build it,” Edwards says. “It’s that simple, which is crazy. If someone had told me that beforehand, I would have said they are full of it. But now that I’m here and I have actually worked with these students, [I know] they are as capable as anybody out there who is working for a major, huge company as a software engineer.”

Interns Calvin Butson, Nick Kreitz, Aries Aviles and Metropolis CEO Scott Edwards.

The interns, too, know a good experience when they see it.

Kreitz, for example, received an attractive offer to intern at a global technology company last summer at the same time he received his offer at Metropolis. He chose the Metropolis offer because he liked the fact it was a small company where he could be more involved with product development. It also aligned with his future desires of starting his own company someday.

One of the projects Kreitz branched off and developed on his own is an internal analytics dashboard for the product that can be used instead of manually gathering data.

“With the knowledge that I have learned from UGA classes and the NMI, I was able to put together a web application that they could use to look at internal stats and sales. Being able to do that as an intern and have an actual impact on other employees is a big thing for me,” Kreitz continued.

Edwards is excited by that innovation and wants to continue scaling up his operation using students to help him. Since the introduction to NMI and programs at Grady College, Edwards has started working with students in the Emerging Media program, Grady’s graduate degree that focuses on emerging digital technologies and design solutions. The Emerging Media team works on SEO, UX design and website marketing for Metropolis. Additionally, a new partnership has recently started with Grady’s Talking Dog, a student-run advertising and public relations agency, which is helping Metropolis with brand messaging, ad placements and product trials.

Edwards knows that start-up tech projects like this will keep more graduates in the area once they have their diplomas in hand.

“There’s not anything they can’t do,” he concludes. “And some things that they can’t do, they are teaching themselves and they are doing very quickly. That does not put a ceiling on their potential. You are never done innovating.”

While Edwards continues thinking of the future of Metropolis, Aviles and Kreitz are thinking about their futures after graduation. Whether they continue at Metropolis for a while or branch off to other professional adventures, the experience they have earned through the Innovation District allows them to bypass the entry-level market with real world experience and working apps they can show future employers.

With the future uncertain, Kreitz knows one thing for certain: “It’s very cool to place down the building blocks that Metropolis will live off of in the future.”

New Media Institute students Aries Aviles (l.) and Nick Kreitz credit the NMI with offering classes that helped them build a solid skill set while in school. “Getting involved with the NMI is when my college experience really started,” Kreitz said.

New agency manager benefits Talking Dog

There is a new top dog at Talking Dog.

Mary Ellen Barto joined the staff at Grady College as the inaugural agency manager for Talking Dog, the student-led advertising and public relations agency.

Barto, a 30-year veteran of agency and corporate marketing, will provide professional guidance for the students, network with current and future clients and help provide operational  consistency.

Talking Dog agency provides students experiential learning opportunities in a full range of advertising and public relations disciplines including market research, strategy, copy writing, website design, messaging and creative to for-profit and not-for-profit clients.

“We created Talking Dog as an integrated ad and PR agency in 2017 with the dream of eventually having a full-time professional manager,” said Bryan Reber, the C. Richard Yarbrough Professor of Crisis Communication Leadership and head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations.  “We feel so fortunate to have found someone like Mary Ellen.  She has agency and brand experience, so can mentor students whatever their career goals may be.”

Prior to this role, Barto worked for Luckie & Co, establishing a Media Center of Excellence within the agency.  She also spent 13 years as Vice President of Brand Media and Field Marketing at Arby’s Restaurant Group, where she oversaw strategic media planning and field marketing for the company, managed multiple agency relationships, and was part of the marketing leadership team responsible for the brand’s revitalization. Mary Ellen has also held senior positions in some of the most respected advertising agencies, including Ogilvy & Mather/Mindshare (New York and Atlanta) and BBDO/OMD (Atlanta).

Barto has worked with Talking Dog students over the past few years through her role at Luckie & Co. and she was intrigued about the opportunity to assume this new role where she could mentor students and help them launch their careers.

“I am thrilled to be here and excited about the opportunities within Talking Dog,” Barto said. “I love that UGA has an experiential learning program and I look forward to contributing. I have enjoyed my past work and helping to guide and inspire the students. There are so many opportunities to water the next generation.”

Barto emphasized that even with her new role, Talking Dog will continue to be student-led.

“I see my role as connecting to what’s happening in classrooms to the work in the agency,” Barto continued. “These students are so bright and capable and Talking Dog is absolutely ripe for more opportunities.”

Talking Dog currently serves a variety of local and national clients, and looks to expand its client base in the future. They have worked with clients as diverse as local restaurants and non-profits to Coca-Cola and Porsche.

Carolyn Caudell Tieger (ABJ ’69) worked alongside Reber to bring the new agency manager position to reality.

“The role that Mary Ellen will play is crucial in taking Talking Dog to the next level,” said Tieger, who is instrumental in the Public Affairs Communications certificate program, as well. “It’s all about taking Talking Dog to new heights in terms of quality client service and reputation.”

In addition to Tieger, Brad MacAfee, founder and CEO of Mission + Cause, and John Gardner, president of Luckie & Co., were key in providing encouragement and support.

“At Luckie one of our most valued relationships is with the University of Georgia Grady College and its amazing Talking Dog student agency,” Gardner said. “As one of the initial external supporters of this group we have seen firsthand their talent at UGA, in our business and for our clients.  This relationship will be taken to the next level with Mary Ellen’s addition as she brings unmatched industry experience with a passion for teaching and mentoring our next generation of impact players.”

Nearly 80 students are currently involved with Talking Dog in a variety of roles including account executives, art directors, new business development, communications and PR specialists, copywriters, media specialists, member relations and recruitment.

See the Talking Dog website for more details.


Industry Insights: Careers in Crisis Communication

This article was submitted by the Crisis Communication Coalition at UGA. You can learn more about it at:

The University of Georgia Crisis Communication Coalition hosted the Industry Insights: Careers in Crisis Communication webinar featuring Michael Gray (ABJ ’11), GE senior communications business partner and Grady Society Alumni Board member, Leah Seay, issues management spokesperson at Amazon, and Maria Stagliano (AB ’19), account executive at LEVICK.  Samantha Meyer (ABJ” 13, MA ’14), director of experiential programs at Grady College, served  as moderator on March 23, 2021. Students and faculty alike learned about current crisis communication trends, tips on how to break into the crisis industry, and ways to excel at your crisis communication career. Here are some of the key takeaways from our event.

  1. Crises will follow you anywhere in any career.

No matter what communications route you end up going down, crises will follow. There is the inevitability of dealing with difficult issues that may not have initially come written in your job scope. While it may seem daunting, being able to experience crisis first-hand might lead into an unexpected career in crisis communication.

  1. You can’t go wrong by choosing agency or in-house/corporate.

The panelists for this event came from a wide range of differing backgrounds and career experiences. Each had their own take on what route a recent graduate should take. Gray and Stagliano noted they had a lot of experience writing in different brand voices and working with numerous clients that they enjoyed in agency life. Seay, on the other hand, enjoyed going corporate because she worked in a rotating program working at different parts of the business when she was hired at her first full-time career. All three panelists highlight the importance of figuring out your goals first, then crafting your job search around those goals.

  1. Develop skills now that can help you later.

There are a few skills students can acquire now that will set them up for success while working in communications – especially in crisis. The three panelists stated that having strong written communication skills is absolutely necessary when working in crisis communication. Seay added that learning about media relations in class or in an internship has helped her advance her career. Gray recommended students to learn about how to effectively handle high-stress or crucial conversations with bosses and peers.

  1. Consider your lifestyle when choosing a career.

Whether you are more fast-paced or go-with-the-flow, there is a communications career path for you. Certain careers, like in global corporations or crisis firms, tend to appeal to people who prefer a high stress lifestyle. Smaller agencies or businesses might lend a more laxed work environment. When researching for job positions, consider the post-graduation life you want to live and focus on opportunities that compliment your lifestyle in a realistic way.

  1. Become familiar with current events – especially crises.

Staying up to date with the news is vital in having a successful career in crisis communication. Stagliano recommended students to be aware of current events and trends nationally and globally in order to stay on top of potential and emerging crises in your industry.

  1. Treasure your work-life balance.

With the pandemic showing us the importance of self-care, all three panelists noted that having a healthy work-life balance is key in having a positive attitude in the workplace. They recommend allotting a certain time each day to take to yourself, whether it’s to stretch, go on a walk, or workout.

Watch the entire webinar here and subscribe to the College’s YouTube channel.

Follow the Crisis Communication Coalition for more crisis communication insights and upcoming events.

Video: The Peabody Student Honor Board Experience

The Peabody Student Honor Board allows University of Georgia students the opportunity to be involved with the Peabody Awards, which honor the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media.

The students serve as production assistants for the awards ceremony in New York, as ambassadors for the university community, and as judges for a separate but related awards program called the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Award.

For the Futures of Media Award, which fall under the Peabody Media Center, students review and judge digital storytelling and choose top winners for stories in digital spaces. As part of the judging process, the students take a “New Digital Narratives” course, refining their critical-thinking and deliberation skills through examination of emerging media forms.

“It’s about as close to experiential learning as you’ll find, in that the students are studying it and then they get to meet and interface with the producers of that media,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of the Peabody Awards, who teaches the class. “Many of the students have reported what a rich experience it was for them.”

See a glimpse of what the Peabody Student Honor Board experience is like in the video below, which features interviews from students during the May 2017 Peabody events in New York City.


Grady Sports Media students practice media relations at the NCAA Tennis Championships

Nine students in the Grady Sports Media program spent Maymester covering all angles of the 2017 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships May 18-29, 2017, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

Working with the University of Georgia Sports Communications in three-hour shifts, the students served in a variety of roles ranging from gathering quotes for press releases and writing match recaps or feature stories, to creating infographics and videos for social media.

“They’re getting a full glimpse of what it’s like to do media relations for a large sporting event,” said Carlo Finlay, academic adviser for the Sports Media Certificate program, who taught the class for the first time. “I think the students like the fact that every day they come here, they’re on a different assignment. So it’s never boring.”

“This is one of the biggest NCAA Championships in the country, so it’s a lot of work and you couldn’t do it without a huge staff,” said Tray Littlefield, assistant sports communications director for UGA men’s tennis.  “The Grady students being here was invaluable for us.”

Vira Halim speaks with Ohio State Head Coach Ty Tucker.
Vira Halim speaks with Ohio State Head Coach Ty Tucker.

Much of the students’ work appeared on, though many of the quotes they gathered and the stories they wrote also were shared with sports information directors around the country.

The students showed a willingness to help with any task needed, according to Littlefield, even helping clear the courts of rain, which flooded the complex for several days.

“It’s been funny—kind of entertaining—but I now know how to dry off a tennis court,” joked public relations senior Jackie Kinney. Though she knew little about tennis before the championships, Kinney said she learned quickly on the job.

“We actually get immediate, hands-on experience,” she said. “It’s certainly more fun than any other class I could’ve taken.”

Another unique aspect of covering the championships was the access the students had to the athletes, Finlay said. They were able to interview players within minutes of the end of a match, and often had time to delve into a longer line of questioning. This access led to interesting feature stories, such as an article written by Vira Halim about the University of North Carolina’s Blaine “Bo” Boyden that was published in the News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“His mom actually was diagnosed with cancer for the second time this year,” explained Halim, a rising junior.  She first learned about Bo’s story and the #BoydenStrong movement while covering tennis in Grady SportsSource. “When Bo clinched the point for UNC in the semis, I was like, wait a minute! So I asked him about that and he was incredible to talk to.”

The Maymester class further solidified her decision to study journalism, Halim said.

“I think we all go through the mid-college crisis…but I think this has been very reaffirming,” she said. “All of us have been able to build relationships with sports information directors from other schools, parents of players, the players themselves.  Just to see this level of competition has been amazing, and I think this is my new favorite sport.”

Allie Bailey works in the press box during the 2017 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships.
Allie Bailey works in the press box during the 2017 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships.

Allie Bailey, a senior and club tennis player at UGA, remembers attending the championships with her dad when she was middle school.  She jumped at the chance to cover the event as an aspiring journalist.

“As soon as I heard about this class, I wanted to do it,” Bailey said. “I finished the certificate program last semester, but I wanted to check out what the PR side is like, because I’m usually a journalist.”

Kinney, who hopes to have a career in communications for a professional baseball team one day, will work as a graduate intern for UGA Sports Communications beginning this July. She said she feels well prepared for her future, thanks to the Grady Sports Media program.

“These classes have prepared me most for what I’d like to do,” Kinney said. “Professor [Vicki] Michaelis has been incredible with what she’s taught me—the professionalism and how to carry yourself.”

More information about the Grady Sports Media program is at

Funke named Google News Lab Fellow

Daniel Funke, a senior journalism student at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been named a Google News Lab Fellow.

The Google News Lab Fellowship offers journalism students from around the country the opportunity to apply for one of eight summer work experiences at premier journalism organizations including Nieman Journalism Lab, Pew Research Center and ProPublica. More than 1,800 applications were received for the eight fellowships this summer.

“I’m excited to be part of a program that I’ve admired since I started college and I can’t wait to keep learning about how technology can help solve some of journalism’s most pressing problems,” Funke, a native of Alpharetta, Georgia, said. “The media industry is at a crossroads, and I can’t think of two organizations that are better suited to tackle the future of news. Having the opportunity to report on the media alongside some of the industry’s brightest minds is an honor.”

Funke has been assigned to the Poynter Institute where he will be a contributor to Poynter Online through publishing video, data and interactive storytelling techniques. He will contribute to Poynter’s conversations about the future of journalism, as well as to their social media presence. The summer program begins with a short course with the other fellows at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, to learn more about the News Lab.

Funke is double majoring in journalism and international affairs, minoring in Spanish and earning a certificate in New Media. During this time at Grady College, he has served as the editor-in-chief of the Red and Black and was a Cox Innovation Fellow with the Cox Institute for Journalism Management, Leadership and Innovation where he created a podcast, “The Lead.” He studied business journalism in New York as a Cox Fellow with the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and was a McGill Fellow. His previous internships have included experiences at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today College and The Los Angeles Times.

Keith Hendon, journalism professor and director of the Cox Institute, has worked closely with Funke through his Cox fellowship and involvement with the Mobile News Lab.

“Daniel has demonstrated what it means for a journalism student to study innovation in this field,” Herndon said. “He is eager to explore new models for creating and distributing news. This national recognition is well deserved and a testament to his work ethic and willingness to continually try new things.”

In addition to the fellowship, Google News Lab has also created a university training network affiliated with universities from around the globe, including the Cox Institute at Grady College. The university network shares resources and best practices for training with Google’s extensive set of tools for journalists and news organizations.

My Grady Story: Stanley Miller

Stanley Miller, a new Grady College student studying journalism, recently attended the Climate and Health Meeting in Atlanta. He shared his experiences in the following summary.

Miller met Lisa Turner Seyfield, co-founder of Mothers and Others for Clean Air

On February 16, 2017, I covered the Climate and Health Meeting hosted by Vice President Al Gore at the Carter Center. The conference was originally planned as a three-day conference to be hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, after its cancellation Vice President Gore decided to host it as a single day conference.

I was absolutely excited to receive a media pass from the office of Vice President Gore’s communications team to cover such a significant and educational event. The Climate and Health Meeting included speakers from institutions such as the American Public Health Association, Harvard Global Health Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vice President Gore also gave a presentation which discussed the effects of climate change on various countries. One of the points he noted is that runoff and flooding resulting from increases in extreme precipitation, hurricane rainfall and storm surge will increasingly contaminate our water sources. He said, “More than two thirds of the water born disease outbreaks in the United States have been immediately preceded by these extreme precipitation events.”

Following his presentation, I met Vice President Gore and relayed to him that I was a journalism student at the University of Georgia.

Shortly before this, I interviewed Lisa Turner Seyfield regarding her involvement with the organization which she co-founded, “Mothers and Others for Clean Air.” Being that I am from the Bahamas, I also interviewed the executive director of the American Public Health Association, Dr. Georges Benjamin during a press briefing about his outlook regarding the effects climate change has on the tourism industry of West Indian countries.

These comments can be found in an article I wrote on the WUOG radio website.

Midway through the conference, Vice President Gore introduced and thanked President Jimmy Carter who also addressed the crowd and reflected on the public health work of the Carter Center.

Overall, attending this event further sparked my interest in political and health journalism. The opportunity to gain experience through speaking with and covering this heavily publicized event alongside journalists from organizations such as CNN, The Washington Post and The Hill gave me a valuable insight into this field.