Booker T. Mattison writes and directs “The Sound of Christmas”

Booker T. Mattison has been focused on “The Sound of Christmas” not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

Mattison, an assistant professor in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies at Grady College, was tapped to write and direct “The Sound of Christmas,” a holiday film debuting on the streaming service BET+ on Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day. It stars Grammy-winning recording artist Ne-Yo and Serayah (“Empire”) in a story about a widower who falls in love with a music teacher who brings love and music back to the family during the holidays.

The musical is based on the novel, “The Replacement Wife,” by Tiffany L. Warren, who is a friend of Mattison’s. She recommended Mattison to write and direct.

“It’s a good example of what I tell my students…relationship capital is more valuable than any currency,” Mattison said.

Mattison spent 12 days in March filming the movie, but that is only a fraction of the time spent on the project. Countless hours were spent researching concepts for the film, studying music cues, and script analysis.

“Script analysis is remarkably important,” Mattison, who was screenwriter and director for the film adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s story “The Gilded Six Bits,” on Showtime, said. “It’s part of your world building but also part of characterization. It’s how you get depth and dimensionality and is so incredibly important.”

The original songs for the film were recorded in Atlanta’s Einnor studios the day before principal photography began.

While Mattison appreciated the challenge working with Ne-Yo and the rest of the cast, this was his first time writing and directing a musical.

“Most of my movies [are dramas and] tend to be dark,” Mattison admits, “but, the most important thing to me is that it is a good story, which this is.”

Mattison teaches classes in directing, screenwriting and the production capstone course at Grady, and brings lessons he learned on set into the classroom.

“Everything I do professionally on set is a potential learning tool. The most important lesson I can teach my students is creating fail safes that will help them prepare to deviate when changes come,” Mattison said.

“The reward for me is if this becomes a movie that everyone looks forward to during the Christmas season and that people sing the songs after watching the movie,” Mattison said.

Mattison has recently committed to his next project— writing and directing the Tubi-original film, “Twisted Marriage Therapist” (working title), a psychological feature-length thriller for MarVista Entertainment to stream on Tubi.

View the trailer for The Sound of Christmas above.

Grady professors explore niche topics through first-year odyssey seminars

Eleven Grady College professors are teaching first-year odyssey seminars this semester. The goal of these seminars are to provide first-year students with the opportunity to engage with faculty members and other first-year students in a small classroom setting.

Professors chose a topic of their interest and craft a course tailored to first-year students. Courses span across all departments, and topics this fall range from telenovelas to film festivals to fake news.

Dean Krugman, Booker T. Mattison and Ivanka Pjesivac share their experience teaching first-year seminars this fall.

Developing a Perspective on the Changing Media Landscape

Dean Krugman is a professor emeritus in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Prior to his official retirement in 2011, he taught courses in advertising management and advertising and society to undergraduates, as well as a graduate course in advertising management and communication theory.

Professor Dean Krugman meets with students in his first-year odyssey seminar on the first day of class. Krugman has previously taught courses on changing media, but this is the first time he is teaching the course to first-year students. (Photo/Jackson Schroeder)

Krugman held positions including department head and senior associate dean, “but nothing was as rewarding as teaching and doing research,” he said.

This year, he has returned to Grady College to teach a first-year odyssey seminar in changing media.

“This presented a great opportunity to come back and get in touch with students. It’s been really, really enjoyable,” he said.

His course on changing media is designed for students to understand how they consume media.

“The idea is for the students to build an intelligent and critical perspective of the media they’re using,” Krugman said.

Krugman says the classroom has always energized him, but that it’s been great to see how enthusiastic his students have been about sharing their views and receiving feedback. During the second week of class, students were assigned with writing a critique. Krugman said when he walked into class that day and asked if anyone wanted to share their critique, all 17 hands went up.

Krugman says the most rewarding part of teaching the course so far has been watching students grasp concepts, build on those concepts, and use those concepts in their work.

He says the first-year odyssey program is an enriching experience for students, and he credits UGA’s central administration for holding onto and championing this program.

The Short Film – A Lens of the Human Experience

Professor Booker T. Mattison’s course on short films uses films as both a genre and as an opportunity to examine humanity.

As a working writer and director, Mattison says “it’s nice to share with students not just what they learn in the textbook, but what’s happening in real time in the industry.”

Each week, Mattison screens a different short film – four of which he directed.

Booker T. Mattison sits and teaches in front of students
Mattison says his favorite part about teaching the first-year odyssey seminar is meeting first-year students. (Photo/Jackson Schroeder)

Students then write a response in class.

Mattison says it’s important for students to respond in real time so that other students do not influence their opinions. He says he hopes by doing it this way, discussions in his course are unvarnished.

For the final assignment, Mattison’s students will choose one of the films they’ve reviewed this semester and write an analysis.

He hopes the main takeaway for students in this course is that they will be able to look at visual media more critically, see themselves in visual media, and use that knowledge to better interact with others.

“The unique thing about film is that 100% of students on this campus watch movies,” he says. “The opportunity to then talk to a filmmaker and ask questions is pretty unique.” 

Fake News, Misinformation and Propaganda: How to Deal with Information Disorder

Dr. Ivanka Pjesivac’s course covers topics of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda in the digital world. Pjesivac’s course begins with an explanation of misinformation, and then delves into a historical perspective of misinformation.

Pjesivac says it’s important to teach this to first-year students, who are more vulnerable to misinformation.

“I think it’s important for young people to get digital media literacy skills as soon as they can,” she says. “It’s especially important for first-year students to be familiarized with some of the characteristics of misinformation, and how to distinguish true information from false information.” 

She says it’s important to expose first-year students to the research potential at UGA. In addition to lectures, she takes her students to the special collections library to view first-hand propaganda material, and takes the class to visit some of the research labs in Grady.

Pjesivac says it’s exciting to see an interest in news and misinformation among her students, many of whom are not pre-journalism or pre-Grady students.

“I see that there is a general interest among a variety of young people to learn about our current digital media ecosystem and how to navigate it,” she says.

By the end of the course, she hopes her students will have the tools to identify suspicious information and justify their skepticism.

Pjesivac says the most rewarding part of teaching this seminar is being able to apply her research to a class setting, and to expand the knowledge at Grady College to other majors.

 

Editor’s Note: Comments trimmed for length and clarity.

 

Yan Jin named C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership

Yan Jin, a professor of public relations, director of the Crisis Communication Think Tank and assistant head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, has been named the C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership.

“I congratulate and welcome Dr. Yan Jin as the new C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership at Grady College,” Yarbrough said. “She is imminently qualified to carry on the work begun by her predecessor, Dr. Bryan Reber, with whom she worked closely in establishing the Grady College as a leader in the study of crisis communications.”

Yarbrough, a 1959 alumnus of Grady College, established the professorship in 2013 as one of several gifts to the college over the years.

Jin’s work serves as a framework for crisis and risk communication in a rapidly evolving media landscape and amidst emotionally charged conflict situations, ranging from organizational crises to disasters and public health emergencies. Jin’s prolific research in crisis communication, conflict management, and health risk communication contributes to the advancement of strategic communication theory and provide insights for public relations practice.

Dick Yarbrough and Yan Jin
Dick Yarbrough and Yan Jin at the Grady Salutes in April 2019. (Photo: courtesy of Yan Jin)

“Being named the Yarbrough Crisis Communication Professor is a huge honor,” said Jin. “The professorship presents an exciting opportunity to advance working with scholars and practitioners in concert with Dick’s vision.”

Jin continued by saying what an influence Yarbrough has been on her research endeavors. She recalled when she was studying with Glen T. Cameron as a graduate student at the University of Missouri, the first crisis communication article she read was co-written by Yarbrough and Cameron.

“To have the professorship bearing Dick’s name is so special to me personally,” Jin continued.  “I have been inspired by his work throughout my career and this is a full circle moment.”

Jin has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and more than 30 book chapters. Most recently, she served as the lead-editor of the Routledge books Advancing Crisis Communication Effectiveness: Integrating Public Relations Scholarship with Practice (2021) and Social Media and Crisis Communication (2nd edition) (2022). She was also named a Top 27 “Most Cited Public Relations Author” according to a 2019 refereed article in ”Journal of Public Relations Research,” as well as a Top 6 “Most Published Author” and Top 16 “Most Cited Author” in ”Public Relations Review” articles according to a 2021 refereed article in “Public Relations Review.”

Jin teaches courses in Crisis Communication, ADPR Theory and Mass Communication Theory, PR Research, PR Management, PR Campaigns, and ADPR Health.

Jin, Reber and Glen Nowak co-founded the Crisis Communication Think Tank in 2018. The Think Tank aims to advance crisis communication effectiveness through dialogue and collaboration among leading public relations scholars and practitioners on emerging and complex crisis issues in the U.S. and internationally.

Among her honors, Jin is the 2019 recipient of the Kitty O. Locker Outstanding Researcher Award, a top honor by the Association for Business Communication.

Yarbrough retired from BellSouth Corporation as vice president in 1993 and served with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games as managing director. PR Week named him one of “The 100 Most Influential Public Relations Practitioners of the 20th Century,” and today, he writes the most widely weekly syndicated column in the state of Georgia, reaching more than a million readers every week. He also served as president of the University of Georgia National Alumni Association from 1994 to 1996, and was inducted into the Grady Fellowship in 2008.

 

Neil Landau named executive director of MFA Film Program

Neil Landau (MFA ’18), an award-winning screenwriter, creative producer, author, and educator has been named Executive Director of the University of Georgia Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media.

“Professor Landau brings a vast amount of experience not only in the film industry, but in the MFA space, as well,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College of Mass Communication and Journalism, which co-sponsors the MFA Film program along with Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “He’s been an amazing addition to the Entertainment & Media Studies department, and he has vision and energy commensurate to the task. Our MFA program in Film, TV and Digital Media truly is one-of-a-kind, and he’s the leader it needs.”

Landau addresses the third cohort of the MFA Film, Television and Digital Media program during orientation at Grady College on Aug. 12, 2022. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Prior to assuming the Executive Director title, Landau served as Director of UGA’s screenwriting curriculum, where he created the Distinguished Industry Mentor program. The Distinguished Industry Mentor program enlists some of the industry’s most prominent screenwriters, directors, and TV showrunners — including David Koepp (“Jurassic Park”), Allison Liddi-Brown (“Friday Night Lights”), and Peabody Award-winner Steven Canals (“Pose”) — to share their expertise with students via master classes, mentoring sessions, and networking.

Of his new role, Landau says “I’m genuinely excited to be part of building and leading our MFA film, television, and digital media program, based on a production company/active studio model, to meet the rapidly expanding Georgia film and TV production ecosystem.”

Landau describes the MFA Film program as interdisciplinary, providing students with the opportunity to find and hone their unique voices as visual storytellers. They not only write original, feature-length screenplays and TV pilots, but also direct at least three short films. Landau continues, “We’re training them to be hyphenates in the Industry; whether that’s as writer/director or writer/producer, we’re preparing them to be innovators and trailblazers.”

“Neil Landau is instrumental to this program and for its success going forward,” said Nalani Dowling (MFA ’22), a recent graduate. “He makes each student feel like he really cares about our success and genuinely wants to understand our work and where we are coming from.”

Mr. Landau is a graduate of the UGA Narrative Nonfiction Media Writing program in Screenwriting and brings years of academic experience to the job, including more than two decades as a screenwriting instructor at University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater, Film & Television, and several years as Assistant Dean of Special Projects and co-Director of the UCLA MFA Screenwriting program.  He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film/Television from UCLA.

As a screenwriter, his credits include feature films “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” and the global animated blockbuster “The Adventures of Tadeo Jones” (for which he won a Spanish Academy “Goya” Award), and the television series “Melrose Place,” “The Magnificent Seven” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.” Upcoming projects include the worldwide release of the animated feature film “Mummies” from Warner Bros. in late February, and “Little Big Boy,” an animated western, currently in production. His latest original, live-action screenplay, “Flinch,” is currently being produced by Teri Schwartz (“Sister Act,” “Beaches”), in partnership with WME Independent.

Landau is also author of six books including the 2022 second edition of “The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap: Creating Great Television in an On Demand World,” featuring interviews with 19 of the most respected showrunners in television, such as Issa Rae of “Insecure,” Chris Mundy of “Ozark,” Sam Levisnon of “Euphoria,” and Jesse Armstrong of “Succession.”

The MFA Film program is a two-year intensive program teaching students directing, screenwriting, producing and other skills needed for creative careers in Georgia’s film industry, which brought $4.4 billion to the state in fiscal year 2022.

Jeff Springston, who previously directed the MFA Film, Television and Digital Media program, continues directing the MFA Narrative Media Writing program.

Photo of MFA graduate with MFA faculty members
Landau (second from left) poses for a picture with MFA Film graduate Nalani Dowling (MFA ’22) and MFA Film faculty members Sanghoon Lee and Shandra McDonald after graduation ceremonies at Studio A of Georgia Film Academy on Aug. 13, 2022. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

 

Grady College professor publishes LinkedIn Learning videos

Sabrena Deal’s first social media jumpstart happened the same way as a lot of viral content — it was accidental.

Since then, Deal has turned her expertise into a way to educate others on the popular platform LinkedIn Learning through two courses: her initial course, Designing a Resume in InDesign, and a new course, Creating Inclusive Content. The latest course premiered August 30, 2022.

“It wasn’t intentional at all,” said Deal, a senior lecturer at Grady College, of the first viral video.

Headshot of Sabrena Deal with headphones
Sabrena Deal created audio recordings of her latest course over the summer. (Photo: courtesy of Sabrena Deal)

Deal explains that creating LinkedIn Learning courses started when the company reached out to her because they noticed YouTube videos that she had created for her students several years ago had generated a lot of views.  The videos focused on designing resumes and LinkedIn invited her to create a course using similar content. When the first course was successful, LinkedIn reached out to ask what other ideas she had for courses, which is when the idea for a course for inclusive communications came to mind.

“I have always had a true appreciation to connect barriers,” Deal explained, “and when they asked about what topics I care about, I told them I have a lot of training and education about how to make quality online education. A big piece of that is recognizing the personal perspectives of students and learners and really anyone reading or viewing any kind of content from a different perspective.”

Deal, who teaches lecture classes in graphic design though the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, knows the value of LinkedIn Learning courses. She often assigns certification courses to students to reinforce design skills in InDesign and Photoshop.

Although she teaches graphics courses, Deal notes that this new inclusive communication course is not just for graphic communications professionals, but for anyone who communicates with diverse audiences — which is a broad audience.

Her interest in this inclusive communication was sparked when she was a student in a session about accessible course design. One of the topics discussed was adapting coursework to learners from different perspectives, along with best practices for publishing electronic resources.

“I thought there are ways that we can design things with those audiences in mind that will improve the reach of our content and also include people who are often disregarded or just not even thought of,” Deal said of this light-bulb moment.

The LinkedIn Learning course, itself, is inclusive, covering a variety of scenarios: choosing fonts for multilingual content, using inclusive images, awareness of what colors mean in different cultures, writing inclusive copy, designing websites for adaptive technology and inclusive video publishing, just to name a few.

Deal designed the course to include changes that would make a significant impact but that don’t require highly technical skills.

Each of the seven chapters begins with an explanation about who benefits from the efforts explained in the chapter and provides case study personas about what their challenges consuming content might be. Exercises for each concept are also included.

“I wanted to bring a more human perspective to it,” she continues. “That is the hook for me personally because I am wanting to give dignity and respect and invitation to people and to include them. And, the amazing thing is that these changes are very small — they don’t cost thousands of dollars. It’s really nice to know that small, easy, attainable changes make a big difference.”

Deal is excited about where these LinkedIn Learning courses will go from here. While she does not have another course planned, she is open to exploring more topics and is considering some in-person workshops about inclusive content so others can learn. She even envisions a potential class on the subject in the future.

“I really see this as a tool for ways of opening up conversations with my students about their experiences and about barriers that they have had to accessing content and information that also for them to go into the field and to have an easy to apply list of guidelines,” she concludes. “After all, when you make things better — when you think about diverse audiences — everyone benefits.”

Deal’s Designing a Resume in InDesign course was released in December 2021 and includes basic resume guidelines, formatting instructions, discussions about color and information about printing the resume. As of late August 2002, it has received more than 4,000 views.


UGA students, faculty and staff have access to premium LinkedIn Learning through UGA’s membership.

Glen Nowak co-investigator on grant to forecast novel pandemics

What if public health officials had a way to forecast pandemics the way meteorologists forecast the weather?

An interdisciplinary team of scientists with the University of Georgia Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to find a way to do exactly that.

Glen Nowak, Grady College’s associate dean for research and graduate studies and co-director of the Center for Health & Risk Communication is a co-investigator for the project.

The researchers, led by Regents’ Professor John Drake of the Odum School of Ecology, will use the grant to build systems for infectious disease intelligence that could predict—and ultimately help prevent—novel pandemics like COVID-19.

The goal of the project is to enable public health authorities and other decision-makers to understand in real time where and how spillover—when a disease jumps from wildlife or livestock to humans—may occur, how an outbreak begins to spread and how information can be used to encourage different groups of people to adopt behaviors to keep them and their communities safe.

“I have studied the dynamics of infectious diseases for over 15 years, and I believe that infectious disease models can be developed for real-time interpretation of disease spread anywhere on the planet,” said Drake, who is Director of the CEID. I am inspired by the success of atmospheric models for weather prediction, which have become increasingly sophisticated over the past seventy years.  We need the same for infectious diseases.  This grant will help us realize infectious disease technologies and methodologies that don’t yet exist.”

The team, which includes several faculty members  from UGA as well as researchers from the University of Michigan and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, has 18 months to prove that their technological innovations can help global industries, governments, nonprofits and societies handle the next infectious disease spillover event or outbreak.

The researchers will follow an approach pioneered to solve complex engineering problems, collaborating on six demonstration projects that are based upon their core expertise. Each project will be modeled on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), but lessons learned are expected to be transferable to other pathogens, including those emerging diseases that have yet to be identified.

This approach has not previously been used in infectious disease modeling, said Nowak.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread throughout the globe and the United States, many organizations quickly conducted surveys and polls to learn more about what people were thinking and doing when it came to reducing the spread of the virus and preventing serious illness,” he said. “Traditionally, very little of that information has been used to inform infectious disease models and forecasts, even though human beliefs and behaviors greatly affect how severe and how long a pandemic will last. I am excited about this project because the information not only can inform public health messages, but it can help us identify the beliefs and behaviors that should be public health communication priorities.”

The demonstration projects will target different aspects and stages of spillover events, outbreaks, and control efforts. They include developing artificial intelligence platforms that can predict how the environmental interactions between humans and wild animals lead to the transmission of pathogens that cause infectious disease outbreaks, surveys to capture how different human populations are influenced by disease prevention and vaccine acceptance messaging, determining the underlying processes that impact HPAI dynamics and determining which HPAI viruses have pandemic potential through the study of molecular virology and immunology.

“Highly pathogenic flu is an ideal pathogen to model,” said team member Pejman Rohani, Regents’ Professor in the Odum School and the College of Veterinary Medicine department of infectious diseases. “Like SARS-CoV-2, HPAI is a highly transmissible respiratory virus, and it has a similar pathology. Although our attention is still on COVID-19, a pandemic created by the spillover of HPAI remains an ever-present concern among epidemiologists and public health officials. Much of what we have learned during COVID-19how people have behaved, the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as wearing a facemask, vaccine hesitancy, and the biology of pathogen transmissioncan be directly applied to HPAI.”

Individual demonstration projects are designed so that the outputs of each one feed into the others; the resulting synthesis of information will be much more robust than that of any one project on its own.

Drake and his colleagues must submit the results of their research by January 2024. Within the next two years, the National Science Foundation is expected to publish a call for Phase II grant proposals  to develop a Center for Pandemic Prediction and Prevention. A Center of this magnitude could propel the University of Georgia into a global leader in Infectious Disease Intelligence research and forecasting.

Along with Drake, Rohani and Nowak, the grant’s co-investigators are Justin Bahl of the UGA Colleges of Public Health and Veterinary Medicine, Bogdan Epureanu of the University of Michigan School of Engineering, and Barbara Han of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

“I have extensively worked with all of these scientists who have different professional backgrounds and experiences,” said Drake. “I am excited about the advances that we are going to add to the burgeoning field of infectious disease intelligence.”

Grady College faculty and graduate students share research at AEJMC 2022 conference

Faculty and graduate students from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will chair committees, present research and network with educators at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference. The 2022 conference takes place in Detroit Aug. 3 – 6, 2022.

Among the highlights for Grady faculty and graduate students this year are several awards, including Solyee Kim (PhD ’22), who will receive the top student paper award in the Public Relations division. Kim’s paper, “Social Identity Signaling in Public Relations: Recruitment of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Practitioners,” will be presented during a session called “Referred Top Student Papers,” at 9:30 a.m. on Sat, Aug. 6. She will be recognized for her honor at the end of a session called “Referred Top Open Papers,” starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5.

Jonathan Peters of our faculty, along with Leslie Klein, a Ph.D. student, will accept the award for Top Faculty paper of the Scholastic Journalism Division. The topic of their paper is “Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. and Regulating Off-Campus Student Expression: The Good News For College Student Journalists.”

Several faculty hold leadership positions at AEJMC, as well. At the conclusion of this year’s conference Karin Assmann will assume her role as vice head of the Cultural and Critical Studies Division. Jonathan Peters serves as research chair of the Law and Policy Division, and Yan Jin is on the editorial board of the Journal of Public Relations Research (JPRR).

The Karen Russell Award of Most Downloaded Article in 2021 at Journal of Public Relations Research will be presented by the Public Relations Division. This year’s award will be presented to Nneka Logan of the School of Communication at Virginia Tech.

The following provides a listing of presentations and panels by College faculty:

Wednesday, Aug. 3

8:30 to 10 a.m. Kyser Lough is the discussant for the “Consumers, Identification and Social Media” refereed paper session in the Visual Communication Division.

8:30 to 10 a.m. Ja Kyung Seo and Yan Jin present “Mask-wearing as an unspoken statement of one’s identity during the COVID-19 pandemic” as part of the Scholar-to-Scholar Session, Topic IX: COVID-19, Identity, and the Self.

12:30 to 2 p.m. Kyser Lough leads “Exploring the Photo Bill of Rights,” a Professional Freedom & Responsibility panel, co-sponsored by the Visual Communication and Law and Policy divisions.

12:30 to 2 p.m. Karin Assmann and Alexander Pfeuffer serve on a panel co-sponsored by the Advertising Division and the Newspaper and Online News Division, “Pushing Fuzzy Boundaries: Advertising, Journalism Ethics and Professional Identities in Branded Newsrooms.”

2:30 to 4 p.m., Michael Cacciatore‘s research will be presented during a poster session. The presenter will be Henry Allen of the University of Utah.

Thursday, Aug. 4

7 a.m. Journal of Public Relations Research (JPRR) Editorial Board Meeting. Yan Jin serves on the editorial board.

10:30 a.m. Karin Assmann is moderator and panelist for “Change Comes from the Top: Bringing Diversity into Newsroom Leadership” co-sponsored with the Divisions Mass Communication and Society and Media Management and Entrepreneurship.

12:15 p.m., Glen Nowak and Yan Jin are panelists for the Public Relations Division Graduate Student Luncheon. They will talk about “Cross-National, Cross-Disciplinary, and Cross-Institutional Collaboration.” The event takes place at Andiamo Detroit Riverfront Restaurant and is sponsored by Grady College.

12:30 – 2 p.m. Karin Assmann is moderating a high-density paper panel sponsored by the International Communication Division.

2:30 – 4 p.m. Karin Assmann and Alexander Pfeuffer are presenting their poster “Fuzzy Boundaries: Journalists Telling Branded Stories” as part of the Advertising Division’s session titled “Advertising Innovations: Influencers, ASMR, Gamification, Story Telling, and Nation Branding”

2:30 – 4 p.m. Karin Assmann is moderating a research paper session co-sponsored by the Communication Technology and Political Communication Divisions with the theme “Politics of Content Moderation: Deplatforming Right-Wing Users and the Emergence of Alternative Social Media.”

Friday, Aug. 5

8:30-10 a.m. Location to be determined. Glen Nowak is a panelist for a session titled “Addressing Sensitive and Controversial Topics in Class,” which is focus on efforts and strategies for effectively discussing sensitive and controversial issues in class without stigmatization and discrimination.

2-3:30 p.m. Carlo Finlay serves on a panel called “Capitalizing on NIL: Feministic perspectives on Name, Image and Likeness,” presented by the Commission on the Status of Women and Law and Policy Division.

4 p.m. William Newlin (MA ’22) and Karin Assmann are presenting their paper “From Liberal Bias to Fake News” about Sean Hannity’s anti-press rhetoric during Presidential election seasons from 2012-2020 during a session sponsored by the Political Communication Division.

5 to 5: 30 p.m.: Leslie Klein and Jonathan Peters, “Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. and Regulating Off-Campus Student Expression: The Good News For College Student Journalists,” Scholastic Journalism Division. This paper is the winner of the Top Faculty Paper Award.

Congratulations sign for Jon Peters and Leslie Klein for Top Faculty Paper at AEJMC

6 to 8 p.m.: Solyee Kim accepts her Top Student Paper Award at the end of the “Referred Top Student Papers” presentation.

6 to 8 p.m.: Jonathan Peters moderates a Top Paper Panel for the Law and Policy Division.

Saturday, Aug. 6

9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Refereed Top Student Papers: Solyee Kim will present her paper, which is the winner of Top Student Paper Award in the Public Relations division. Her paper was titled “Social Identity Signaling in Public Relations: Recruitment of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Practitioners.”

9.30 a.m. Karin Assmann is moderating the Cultural and Critical Studies Division refereed paper session “Critical Studies in Journalism”

Congratulations Sign for AEJMC Top Student Paper Award for Solyee Kim

Bryan Reber retires from Department of Advertising and Public Relations

Known for his unflappable personality, crisis communication acumen and commitment to helping students, Bryan Reber retires as head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations effective Aug. 1, 2022.

Charles Davis and Bryan Reber pose for a picture
Charles Davis and Bryan Reber in April 2022.

“Bryan Reber possesses all the qualities that make a great department chair: he’s reasonable, flexible, embraces ambiguity and works for the greater good,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “But, he’s also one of the most innately likable colleagues, an encouraging voice in the room and a rare leader who always, always tries to get to ‘yes.’”

Reber has served as head of the department or assistant head for the past 12 years, helping to  lead many growth initiatives including the development of the Crisis Communication Think Tank, Crisis Communication Coalition, AdPR Executive Advisory Board, AdPR Academy, 4+1+1 program, Talking Dog, certificate programs like the Strategic Health and Risk Communication, and several labs including the Brain, Body and Media (BBAM), SEE Suite, Virtual Environments Room and Gaming Experience (VERGE) and Games and Virtual Environments Lab (GAVEL).

Reber has long been a prolific researcher, including several years as a co-author of the North American Communication Monitor sponsored by The Plank Center, and has helped lead the department during a time when it was recognized as the top US institution in AdPR research productivity.

He has a national reputation for his expertise in crisis communication and was named the C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership in 2014. Through this role, he was frequently quoted in national media covering corporate crisis and he initiated the Crisis Communication Think Tank, bringing together industry professionals and scholars to collaborate on crisis issues.

Dick Yarbrough talks into a microphone as Bryan Reber looks on.
Dick Yarbrough speaks at the Sports Media Consortium, “Atlanta, 20 Years Later: Lessons in Sports Media from the Last American Summer Olympic Games,” in 2014 as Bryan Reber looks on.

“I had great expectations for the professorship at its inception,” said Dick Yarbrough (ABJ ’59), “and, Bryan Reber exceeded them. Thanks to his efforts, Grady College is turning out a new generation of relevant crisis communications professionals while making Grady a respected leader in the field with practitioners across the globe.  I could not be more pleased or proud.”

Karen King, professor emeritus who retired in 2020, worked alongside Reber since he came to Grady College in 2004 from the University of Alabama.

“Bryan has contributed to the department in so many ways,” King noted. “He understands the importance of

Three faculty members and one alumnus pose for a picture in a grove of trees in Cannes, France.
Joe Phua, Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00), Karen King and Bryan Reber outside the Cannes Lions Festival, one of the special study away opportunities AdPR offers for its students in the summer. (Photo: courtesy of Karen King)

culture in an academic department and was generous with his time, talent, support, and even his personal funds. This allowed the department to continue to have a pleasant environment for faculty, students, and alums alike.”

Reber is the author of several books, including the text book, “Gaining Influence in Public Relations: The Role of Resistance in Practice” which he co-authored with Bruce K. Berger, and his most recent book, “Advancing Crisis Communication Effectiveness,” which he co-edited with Glen Nowak and Yan Jin of the Grady faculty.

In all that he has accomplished in shaping the department, building bridges through partnerships, raising money to benefit student experiences and contributing to the betterment of the industry through his work on boards like the Plank Center or induction into industry leadership organizations like the Arthur Page Society, Reber’s key motivator is guiding his students to productive, impactful careers. Whether he is working with undergraduate students serving as Yarbrough Crisis Communication Fellows or graduate students whose goals are to teach, he is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of professionals.

Nicholas Browning (MA ’10, PhD ’15) worked closely with Reber who served as his committee chair for his master’s thesis and later for his doctoral dissertation.

Nicholas Browning and Bryan Reber after Browning's graduation in 2010
Bryan Reber (right) served on Nicholas Brownings master’s thesis committee and as his dissertation chair. This picture was taken following Browning’s master’s degree graduation in 2010. “He gave students the opportunity—or perhaps “forced students” is the better phrasing—to forge their own paths, to articulate their own visions, and to grow into their own unique careers,” Browning said of Reber. (Photo: courtesy of Nick Browning)

“Bryan is a brilliant scholar and prolific in virtually every facet of academia: research, teaching, service, whatever—he does it all, and he does it all well,” Browning said. “I owe Bryan Reber a lot, and though I can never repay it, I try to pay it forward in the mentorship role I now find myself in. I consider myself fortunate to have been his student, privileged to be his colleague, and honored to be his friend.”

Isn’t that the most any professor can hope for?

Reber plans to enjoy time vacationing with his wife, Sharon, and gardening in his retirement.

Juan Meng assumes the role as AdPR department head effective Aug. 1.

Janice Hume earns Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Journalism Historians Association

Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism and incoming associate dean of academic affairs at Grady College, is the recipient of the 2022 Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement by the American Journalism Historians Association. It is AJHA’s highest honor.

The chair of the Service Awards Committee, Professor Emeritus Thomas A. Mascaro of Bowling Green State University, announced the decision.

“The nominating and support letters for Dr. Janice Hume reflect widespread admiration and appreciation for Janice’s excellence, mentorship, teaching and research contributions,” Mascaro said, “and for reflecting the tradition of this esteemed award.”

The rich number of tributes from support letters speak to the sweep of Hume’s record of achievement during a lifetime of service to journalism history.

“Dr. Hume most deserves recognition because she has mentored dozens upon dozens of graduate students, colleagues, and friends,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “It’s the quiet counsel, often unheralded and unheard by others, that gives a graduate student the confidence to move forward.”

Hume has “an exemplary record of sustained achievements through teaching, research, professional activities, or other contributions to the field of journalism history,” said award committee member Carolyn Kitch of Temple University. “She has contributed to the field in all of these categories, and in a very sustained way for decades. Her own scholarship importantly situates journalism history within American cultural history. And she has steadily worked to mentor and support other journalism historians’ research and teaching, expanding her impact on the field’s present and future.”

Erika Pribanic-Smith of the University of Texas Arlington praised Hume’s  stalwart participation as an AJHA and AEJMC History Division member, and credited her with “amassing a record of teaching, research, and service that makes her more than worthy of AJHA’s highest honor.”

Jason Lee Guthrie (PhD ’18) of Clayton State University was one of several scholars who thanked Hume for her mentorship.

“I gravitated toward history first and foremost because of who Dr. Hume is as a person, her kindness and her generosity,” he said.

Alexia “Lexie” C. Little (MA ’21) of Vanderbilt University said Hume “approaches our field with a ferocious curiosity made apparent by her wide and readily accessible internal archive of scholarship read, networks fostered, mistakes made, achievements earned, topics explored, and mentor guidance committed to heart.”

Teri Finneman of the University of Kansas noted that Hume is known for her research on collective memory and obituaries. “She was interviewed on NPR about her research into 8,000 obituaries, and her commentary was fascinating,” said Finneman.

Hume has earned more than 15 awards and recognitions, including AJHA’s President’s Award for Service, National Award for Excellence in Teaching, the McKerns Research Grant, and multiple top paper or article awards from both AJHA and the AEJMC History Division. She was named a Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program Fellow and to the Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy, and has provided leadership as a long-time department chair within the Department of Journalism at Grady College.

“The award’s namesake, Sidney Kobre, fused his love of journalism and history to make an enduring legacy within the field of history,” said M. Cayce Myers (MA ’06, Ph.D. ’14) of Virginia Tech. “Janice Hume’s career is in that same tradition.”

Hume studied at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, earning her Bachelor’s in Journalism as a magazine major, a Master of Arts in Journalism, writing about characteristics of heroic women in magazines, and a doctorate in Journalism.

Janice Hume holds copies of her book, "Popular Media and the American Revolution."
Janice Hume displays copies of her most recent book, “Popular Media and the American Revolution” when it was published in 2014.

She has authored three books, including her most recent, “Popular Media and the American Revolution: Shaping Collective Memory.”

Hume’s dissertation, “Private Lives, Public Virtues: Historic Newspaper Obituaries in a Changing American Culture,” launched her lifelong research agenda. She taught at Kansas State University before going to the University of Georgia in 2001. Prior to entering academe, Hume worked at the Mobile (Alabama) Register and Florence (Alabama) Times, Tri-Cities Daily.

Founded in 1981, the American Journalism Historians Association seeks to advance education and research in mass communication history. Members work to raise historical standards and ensure that all scholars and students recognize the vast importance of media history and apply this knowledge to the advancement of society.

Jooyoung Kim named director of Cox International Center

Jooyoung Kim, the Dan Magill Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Sports Communication, has been named director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research.

Tudor Vlad, the current Cox International Center director, will assume a new role as executive director. Vlad has led dozens of international training missions and welcomed hundreds of visiting journalists from around the world to UGA over many years of service to the college.

“Dr. Kim brings a highly successful international program, the Business and Public Communication Fellows Program, under the Cox International Center, marshalling the college’s international training center and its resources,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “I’m excited to see the Cox Center continue enriching media operations around the world through its training and international research.”

Kim is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Cox Center and continue its mission.

“Through interdisciplinary collaborations with Grady faculty and other excellent units at UGA as well as external experts and organizations worldwide, I hope to continue to build the Cox Center as a global hub for mass communication knowledge production and training,” Kim said.

Kim is the founder and director the Business and Public Communication Fellows Program, a program inviting experienced communication professionals from different countries to study for one year at Grady College. The program, founded in 2010, operates in conjunction with the Cox International Center and has graduated more than 100 students.

“Now under the Cox International Center, the program will flourish even more by attracting international scholars in a wide range of disciplines related to mass communication,” Kim said.

Kim is a professor of advertising and specializes in research on the roles of advertising in branding context and perception. His research also examines advertising and brand communication in the sports context. Kim also directs the Advertising and Branding Insights Studio at UGA to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations that focus on research-driven insights in advertising and branding using various scientific approaches. Kim serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Interactive Advertising and was secretary last year of the American Academy of Advertising, an organization dedicated to advertising science and research. He is the co-founder and current vice president of the Korean American Faculty Association at UGA, an organization committed to increasing the visibility of its members and mentoring the Korean and Korean American students on campus.

The James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research began operations in 1985 and is dedicated to conducting media training programs involving countries all over the world, and conducting and publishing research reports on a variety of topics related to the practice of journalism around the world.

Among the activities in the past year that the Cox Center has directed are the development of a series of civic and media management courses for the African Civic Engagement Academy and hosting a group of 21 journalists from the country Georgia for training in digital media.

The Cox Center is named for the late James M. Cox, Jr., chairman of the board of Cox Enterprises and a major figure in the communications industry in the United States in the twentieth century.


Editor’s Note: For more information, please read this April 2022 profile about Jooyoung Kim.