Podcast: Exploring Grady’s new Certificate in News Literacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything you want to add to that process?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Norsworthy: Thanks for having us. 

Keith Herndon: Yeah. Thanks a lot.

Grady InternViews: DonA Traylor-Askew

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities:

My internship was 10 weeks. I spent the first five weeks on Sportscenter and the second five weeks with NBA Today. I was responsible for cutting clips for the shows. Most days I was assigned other jobs along with cutting clips, such as running the teleprompter, sorting scripts for on air talent, or organizing highlight shot sheets. I also had the chance to observe most of the positions necessary to bring a studio show together including the producer, director, graphics producer, research assistant and the technical director.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

The most valuable lesson I learned during my internship was to always ask questions. At first, I was tentative about always being the one to ask for clarification or further explanation. There were so many moving parts to the shows I was working on that I always wanted to know how and why things worked the way they did. I felt like everyone would be so tired of having to explain to the intern, but I quickly learned that they were always excited for me to ask questions. Instead of finding it annoying, they found that it showed my genuine interest and engagement.

student in front of sportscenter screen
DonA interned with ESPN in person in Los Angeles (Photo:submitted).
How will this role guide your future career path?

This role showed me that I have a greater appreciation for the content production side of broadcast than I originally thought. During my time in Grady, I have enjoyed creating feature packages, conducting video interviews and related tasks, but I think in the back of my mind, an on-air role was still at the forefront of my career aspirations. While this is still true in some sense, as I would love an on-air role in some capacity, after this internship. I also think I’d be much more content working in the content side of broadcast to start off.

What has been your favorite part about your internship?
student standing in front of sportscenter logo
DonA’s internship was split between working with Sportscenter and NBA Today (Photo:submitted).

My favorite part of my internship would have to come down to an incredible moment that I will literally never forget. I have been an admirer of Malika Andrews for quite a while, as she is such an inspiration to me as a young black woman in the sports broadcast industry. She is the host of NBA Today, so I had the chance to work with her. In my second week there, my role for the day was to operate the teleprompter. She called me out to set about 10 minutes before we went on air and asked what career interests I have. I explained that I am loving the content production, but that I could see myself in an on-air role one day. She proceeded to ask me to sit at the desk, explaining which camera would be mine if I was her cohost. Then, the two of us went through over half of the show script together like co-anchors. She gave me a couple pointers on small things I could improve moving forward, but commended me on a job well done (especially since she caught me off guard). It was absolutely insane. I couldn’t believe it was happening, and was fully convinced I was dreaming (except there is photo evidence).

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

The classes I have taken in the Grady Sports Media Institute couldn’t have prepared me better for the work I’d have the chance to do with ESPN. Hands-on work editing feature packages and learning to take quick direction and think on my feet from classes like Sportsource had me as ready as could be. I think the most difficult adjustment for me was learning where everything was in my new environment, including learning the basic regulations of cutting clips and finding footage, and getting used to a new editing software–which is only used by ESPN. These are all situational challenges. My Grady experiences allowed for utmost preparation otherwise.

DonA reading through a script with NBA Today host Malika Andrews (Photo:submitted)
student selfie in front of ESPN logo
DonA takes a selfie with the ESPN logo. (Photo:submitted)
What advice would you give to students who are looking to pursue similar opportunities?

My advice to students who are looking for similar opportunities would be to take advantage of every other opportunity they have leading up to this one and always give their best effort. Sometimes, it can feel like the small reporting or video package assignment you have is unimportant. But, this could be the very piece of work that puts you in a hiring manager’s line of sight. Even if a project isn’t perfect, sometimes if it is clear from all perspectives that you really worked hard, that effort will overshadow any imperfections and open the door for other opportunities.

Grady Summer Media Academies attract dozens of students from across US

This summer, a total of 52 campers from eight U.S. states and Puerto Rico traveled to Grady College to attend Summer Media Academies in Advertising and Public Relations (AdPR), Journalism and Entertainment and Media Studies (EMST). 

Akili-Casundria Ramsess of NPPA talks with students attending the Journalism Summer Camp.
Akili Ramsess of NPPA talks with students attending the Journalism Summer Academy. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

The weeklong camps were run in partnership with the University of Georgia Summer Academy program and introduced students between the ages of 13-17 to the tools they need to become multi-skilled professionals in their desired fields.

“We were excited to return to hosting in-person camps this year,” said Stephanie Moreno (ABJ ‘06, MA ‘20), scholastic outreach coordinator at Grady College. “Participants explored our majors and learned about the variety of career paths available in the media industry. They also got a glimpse of what life is like on a college campus.” 

The AdPR camp was instructed by Tom Cullen (MA ‘18, MFA ‘21), a lecturer in the AdPR Department, and Cameron Shook (AB ’22), who graduated in May with a degree in Public Relations. They taught students how to become creative problem solvers, writers, decision-makers and persuasive communicators within traditional and new media. 

Students take notes during a lesson at Jackson Spalding.
AdPR Summer Academy students take notes during a lesson at Jackson Spalding. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

Participants studied ways to reach target audiences and effectively communicate messages to the general public. They visited Jackson Spalding Public Relations and Marketing Agency to gain a sneak peak at life working for an agency, listened to guest lecturers, and designed an integrated campaign for a local non-profit organization, Project Safe. The camp ran from June 13-17.

“I highly recommend this summer camp,” said high school student MC O’Brien. “This camp not only teaches you the basics of AdPR but also life necessities and qualities about how to approach problems.”

Likewise, participants in the Journalism camp studied the art of interviewing, multimedia reporting, writing, editing, producing and social media storytelling. Instructors were Joe Dennis (MA ‘07, PhD ‘16), co-chair of the mass communications department and associate professor of mass communications at Piedmont University, and Heaven Jobe, a Journalism master’s student at Grady College.

Journalism Summer Academy Students sift through papers and stickers at the Red & Black headquarters.
Students in the Journalism Summer Academy visited The Red & Black, where Charlotte Norsworthy (AB ‘19, MA ‘20) shared details about what it’s like to work at a student newspaper. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

The participants were also introduced to principles in visual journalism with a session led by Akili Ramsess, executive director of the National Press Photographers Association, headquartered at Grady College. They took a visit to The Red & Black independent student newspaper, where they caught a snapshot of a working newsroom. Throughout the week, they listened to guest lecturers, wrote articles and produced a news website, Rockstarwriters.blog. The Journalism camp also ran from June 13-17.

Ten days later, from June 27-July 1, a new group gathered for EMST camp led by Jeffrey Duncan, a third-year Ph.D. student focusing on entertainment media law, and Kimberlee Smith, a master’s student. EMST camp taught students interested in careers in film, television, radio, online, mobile and other new media industries valuable content production skills, from screenwriting to digital editing. 

Over the course of the week, the campers listened to guest lectures led by professionals in the field. A highlight was a screening of a short film and discussion with director Booker T. Mattison, an assistant professor in EMST. They also made short films, wrote scripts or designed posters for their portfolios.

Booker T. Mattison speaks to a group of students attending EMST Summer Academy in Studio 100.
EMST Summer Academy students listened to a lesson led by Booker T. Mattison, filmmaker and assistant professor in Entertainment and Media Studies. (Photo: Stephanie Moreno)

“I really love how we get hands-on presentations,” said Psalm Arias, a high school student who recently moved to Watkinsville, Georgia, from the Philippines. “Before this camp, I didn’t have a huge interest in filming. When I saw how cameras work and how lighting works, It got me very interested in it.”

This camp has given me more options and allowed me to see more spaces that I have to go into,” added Kristina Buckley, a high school student from Buford, Georgia. 

A showcase of projects is available at summermediaacademy.wordpress.com. Below is a slideshow of images taken during all three of Grady’s summer camps. For more images, visit Grady’s Flickr account

Information about 2022 Summer Media Academy opportunities will be available in late fall at grady.uga.edu/apply/high-school-discovery and www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/youth/summer-academy.

 

  • AdPR campers receive a lesson at Jackson Spalding Public Relations and Marketing Agency in Downtown Athens.
    Students in the AdPR Summer Academy took a visit to Jackson Spalding Public Relations and Marketing Agency in Downtown Athens. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

Journalism student Ciera Walker named 2022 Disney UNCF Corporate Scholar

Ciera Walker, a Journalism student from Columbus, Georgia, has been selected by the Walt Disney Company and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to be a 2022 Disney UNCF Corporate Scholar. Walker is one of just 21 students throughout the United States to be awarded this opportunity.

Through the highly competitive program, Walker will be interning with ESPN’s social media team, working alongside professionals in the department to create and produce content for ESPN’s social media platforms.

Ciera Walker stands outside wearing an ESPN shirt.
Walker, who is on track to graduate in 2024, is a Film minor. (Photo: Submitted.)

While the internship, which runs from June 6 to August 12, is primarily virtual, Walker will have the opportunity to travel to ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, during the summer to meet the ESPN social team and other ESPN interns in person.

“This accomplishment gives me the opportunity to learn, network and grow within the media industry,” said Walker. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside ESPN executives who can share their experience and offer feedback or advice on what I need to do to excel in this career. It’s not often that you’re able to learn and develop your personal skills while also being paid, so I’m grateful for this privilege.”

In addition to receiving a paid summer internship, each Disney UNCF Corporate Scholar is awarded a $5,000 annual scholarship, mentorship opportunities and assistance securing possible full-time roles with Disney after graduation.

“Being a Disney UNCF Corporate Scholar means a lot to me,” Walker added. “I’m able to learn from industry professionals already working in positions I aspire to be in one day, and I also have the opportunity to mature as a leader. What I enjoy most so far is being able to connect with the other scholars who are succeeding in their own ways and getting to share our knowledge with one another.”

As a Corporate Scholar, Walker will be joining a growing cohort of students supported by the program, which, according to Disney, is designed to nurture rising Black talent pursuing degrees in finance, human resources, legal, production/media and technology.

“Disney’s longstanding relationship with UNCF, including our collaboration on this scholarship program, is an important part of our efforts to reimagine tomorrow by amplifying underrepresented voices and untold stories,” said Latondra Newton, Disney’s senior vice president and chief diversity officer. “For more than 75 years, UNCF has helped generations of students claim a brighter future. Together, we’re carrying on this proud legacy, ensuring promising students are supported in their education and connected with Disney mentors and career opportunities.”

#ProfilesOfTenacity: William Newlin

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I began my college career as an International Affairs major in SPIA. History, English, political science and economics had always been my favorite subjects, and IA seemed to bring it all together. But as an avid news consumer with a penchant for writing, I realized there was more I wanted to do. Grady allowed me to join a field with colleagues who have goals beyond themselves. I knew it would give me the leeway to find my passion and the opportunity to write with purpose.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

To me, tenacity is a willingness to leave your comfort zone to get what you need, whether in your personal life or professional pursuits. In journalism, it’s not backing down in the face of authority. It’s being dogged, nosy and courageous. In life, it’s sticking to your values and reaching for your goals no matter the obstacles. 

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about improving public debate through good journalism. I think the best reporting keeps important issues centered in our collective consciousness and directs attention to topics that might otherwise fall through the cracks. We need to have more fact-based debate in all aspects of American life, and I’m excited to contribute to that throughout my career.

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

The Red & Black. After joining in fall 2019, I immediately found a group of people who both supported me and created the environment of healthy competition that shaped me as a reporter. Over two years of reporting and editing from contributor all the way to managing editor, I honed my writing, fact-finding and storytelling skills. It was the real-world experience I needed to feel confident in my abilities as a professional journalist and leader.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

In March, I presented original research at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Midwinter Conference. The idea originated in a research theory class the previous fall, and I developed my topic and method alongside Dr. Karin Assmann. Focused on the rhetoric of Fox News’ Sean Hannity, I found the data needed for the project, learned to use a new analysis software and wrote a lengthy paper that was accepted by the AEJMC. Despite taking the non-thesis route in my graduate program, I’m excited to leave with a tangible piece of scholarship. My goal is to submit the finished article for publication in a political communication journal.  

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

Find something interesting in every assignment. Even if you’re covering what seems like the driest beat in the world, there are always people, trends and storylines to keep you and your audience engaged. 

Who is your professional hero?

A few people come to mind. As exemplars of my first journalistic passion – sports writing (specifically baseball) – Tony Kornheiser and Jeff Passan are at the top. Their reporting chops and undeniable style continue to inform my approach to writing. I also greatly admire CNN’s Clarissa Ward and NBC’s Richard Engel. They’re in the most important places at the most important times, and I hope to emulate their unflinching courage to whatever extent I can. And if I had to throw in a historical hero, it would have to be Edward R. Murrow. Aside from the obvious reasons, who doesn’t want a catchphrase?

What are you planning to do after obtaining your degree?

I plan to hit the ground running as a reporter. With experience in sports, news and features, I’m excited to get started and adapt to new challenges.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

It might surprise people that I make music – sort of. I play the drums, can strum a guitar, and I’m oddly decent at composing piano music, which I’ve translated into a few songs. Some are on SoundCloud, and some are just for me. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Founders Memorial Garden on North Campus is and always will be my favorite spot. It was my between-classes refuge freshman year and continues to be a peaceful place when I need some quiet time in nature. 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Sherry Liang

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

The only class I enjoyed in high school was newspaper, so I came into college as an intended-journalism major. I joined The Red & Black within my first month and became an editor the following semester. But I already felt stagnant, which is not a feeling you want as a freshman, so I sought a creative outlet with EMST. I wish I could reassure freshman me that both journalism and EMST would welcome (and continue to welcome) me with open arms — that pursuing both paths would change my life — but I think she already knew.

What are you passionate about?

A lot, sometimes too much. I’m passionate about independent student journalism and innovating the newsroom’s status quo. I’m passionate about people and our emotions — the way we interact and react — and finding the universal in the personal. The entertainment and journalism I grew up with rarely told the stories of my community. I never saw myself in the media industry, so I hope I can play my part in changing that for future generations.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

I hope I’ll remember the everyday moments like mingling with friends between classes, group exercises in cinematography, staying up until 2 a.m. finishing a script, sheltering from a tornado in one of the many windowless first floor classrooms, busting a kneecap open after class (unrelated to the tornado), table reads in Writers’ Room or watching film premieres at Ciné and University 16 … the list goes on. 

I also think back to when we planted seeds for ideas that would shape my college experience — like brainstorming web series concepts in Writers’ Room, pitching an AAJA chapter at UGA to Dr. Lough, the first conversations about the Backlight Student Film Festival, or the beginnings of what would become The Red & Black’s DEI Committee.

Liang served as the editor-in-chief of The Red & Black in spring 2021 (Photo: Taylor Gerlach).
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The students, by all means. From day one, I’ve been inspired by everyone’s dedication to each other’s work at The Red & Black, The Industry, in classrooms and on the screen. Members of Writers’ Room, for example, have exceeded every conceivable expectation of mine when I restructured the club. From first-time screenwriters to EMST veterans, everyone’s bonded over these characters and scripts that we’ve created. I’m also beyond impressed by students on the Selection Committee for the Backlight Student Film Festival, who have spent nearly 10 hours across three weeks watching and judging film submissions. This level of commitment and collaboration is a trademark of the students at this college.

As I round out my senior year, I feel like I’ve finally found my place with my people. Graduating and leaving UGA feels bittersweet and pre-nostalgic, but I am mostly relieved that given the volatility of the universe and its infinite possibilities, we all found ourselves here, together, if only for a moment. (Existential thoughts courtesy of Everything, Everywhere All at Once.)

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Directing my first short film this semester was one of the most surreal moments of my college career. I’ve written a few scripts, so that part of the process was familiar. But as I watched actors bring the characters I created to life, heard people laugh at these jokes I wrote from my bed at 3 a.m., and witnessed an entire crew devote their many precious hours to execute my story — I felt a type of unbridled joy and gratitude that I had never experienced in a collaborative environment. I’ll chase that feeling and those people for as long as I create. 

(Bonus full-circle moment: The film is about student journalism!)

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Lots of soul-searching, a bit of traveling, and hopefully some revelatory experiences — but first, the Cannes Film Festival.

A behind the scenes look at Liang’s short film directorial debut (Photo: Jaida Green).
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

Coming in as a beginner, I was intimidated by EMST before even setting foot in a classroom. But over the last two years, I’ve never had a professor who expected us to know everything. Professor Evans taught my first screenwriting class, and from day one, he emphasized improvement above all else. Your work doesn’t have to be perfect, it might never be, but you just have to do and improve. I’ve always had some level of performance anxiety, and reminding myself of that philosophy has been liberating. As a chronic procrastinating perfectionist, it’s what motivated me 24 hours before the deadline to write my first TV pilot that became a BEA Festival finalist. It wasn’t a perfect script — one judge’s comments made that very clear — but that’s one script (and an award) more than I had before I started. 

Who is your professional hero?

I have so many. UGA alumnae Kendall Trammell, Elaine Reyes, Samira Jafari, Alex Laughlin and Amanda Mull are just a handful of the journalists who inspire me. Editors at CNN and The Red & Black have shaped my confidence and voice as a journalist. The writer-director in me also looks up to the power-duo of Lulu Wang and Barry Jenkins (who share a dog-child with a hyphenated last name — talk about life goals). 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I talk to myself a lot, entire conversations. Sometimes I’ll mute my podcast in the car just to hear myself talk … to myself. Most of these answers came from me talking to myself. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

My body is actually solar-powered. Give me some sun, a few trees, maybe a sprinkling of fall foliage or spring flowers, and I’m there. I frequent Herty Field or the MLC stone benches for napping, and outside the PAF for a solid four-legged table to do some work. You can also find me gazing off into the sunset at Lake Herrick to inspire an aforementioned revelatory experience … been doing a lot of that lately.



GSAB Profile: Chase Cain

Chase Cain is a storyteller, covering climate change for NBCLX on Peacock. His reporting has earned three Emmy Awards and a National Edward R. Murrow for an innovative story about the impact of a warming planet on Southern California’s endangered Joshua trees. Chase documented firsthand the summer of unrest in Washington, D.C., the 2020 presidential campaign, and traveled to Tokyo to cover the Olympics for NBC. Previously, he reported for NBC in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but his first television job began in Augusta, right after graduating from Grady College in 2005 with a major in Broadcast News. Chase also spent three years at Hulu, creating original content for acclaimed series likeThe Handmaid’s Tale and Castle Rock. Originally from Marietta, Chase is proud to now call Southern California home.


What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

The most important advice is to follow your passion. What interests you? What excites you? Follow that! There are plenty of jobs which pay well or seem to be glamorous, but if there’s not passion behind what you do, happiness is far more elusive.

Cain alongside a classmate at the anchor desk for Newsource15 during his time in the College. (Photo: submitted)

What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?

My involvement with Newsource15 remains the most invaluable experience of my time at Georgia. The opportunity (and pressure) to produce a live daily newscast absolutely prepared me for the real expectations of a career in television news. I am eternally grateful for the intentionally challenging instruction of former professors like David Hazinski, Michael Castengera and Steve Smith.


What modern challenges would you like to see current students and recent College alumni solve?

Personally, I would love to see more students pursue environmental journalism and social justice. There’s an important crossroads between the two, and there are far too few journalists bringing attention to those issues. There is no more important story than the future of our planet, our ecosystems, and the survival of our species.


What is your favorite place on campus and why?
Cain stands outside the White House in Washington, D.C. during President Joe Biden’s inauguration. (Photo: submitted)

I always loved Herty Field, and how can you not? I would also use the law library as a favorite study spot. I would feel somewhat out of place as a journalism student in the law library. Would someone ask me to leave? Could they tell I wasn’t a pre-law major? Lol. But I really loved being inside and looking out the window to the beautiful fountain. It was just a wonderful, peaceful escape — and sometimes I would actually study!


How has your field changed from your graduation to now?

The biggest shifts have been in the immediacy of news and the abundance of mis/disinformation. The “fake news” moniker has been incredibly harmful to journalism, and I would encourage everyone to stop using it, stop joking about it. While journalists work to share the truth, we’re also under increasing demands of immediacy. It’s no longer enough to spend weeks producing engaging work. It often needs to be shared while in-progress, and that is fundamentally changing how we work.

 


This series profiles members of the Grady College Alumni Board who make a positive difference in our College. We are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of our Grady Society Alumni Board members.


 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Kacie Geter

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I chose Grady because since I was young, I always wanted to be a broadcast reporter or television personality. Grady has one of the best journalism programs in the country and to be in the same program that alums like Ryan Seacrest and Bonnie Arnold were in assures me that there is no limit for success I want to reach in the industry.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means betting on yourself. I am a believer in the privilege of luck, connections, and access, but it also comes down to how determined you are to get to where you want to be. Tenacity means to me that no matter the odds, you give it your all. 

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

My college friends. I had no high school peers that were coming to UGA and I had to make entirely new relationships. I am grateful to have connected with the friends I have now because we have similar aspirations and mindsets, and they’re just really good people to surround myself with. 

Geter is an intern for NBCUniversal.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment in the past year was being accepted to intern at NBCUniversal’s E! News for this current spring semester. I am blessed and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work for such an amazing company while only being a sophomore and recently Grady accepted. Having this opportunity has equipped me with knowledge to believe any door will open for you as long as you work hard and ask for it. 

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

People are going to judge and have opinions about you anyway, so do as you please. I am the creator of my future and therefore I control my outcome and anyone that disagrees does not matter. I stick by this advice that my mentor gave me habitually.

Who is your professional hero?

I don’t really have a professional hero, but I love seeing Black women paving the way for us, such as Issa Rae, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna.

Geter also works at The Red & Black as a social media coordinator.
What are you planning to do after graduation?

Honestly, I am not sure, and that’s okay. I know I want to work in the film/television industry and possibly be a TV personality or work on the business side of the media industry. Whatever opportunities come my way that nurture me and bring me closer to what I love, I’m taking.

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

My favorite app is Pinterest. I like how you can just see random photos catered to your interests without the opinions or judgment of others. Pinterest is a very inspiring platform; who doesn’t love to be inspired?

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I love reading people and knowing their opinions. I habitually go on Reddit and just read people’s opinions about random topics. I want to know others’ mindset and their thinking processes behind everyday ideas.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus would have to be Lake Herrick. Especially in the fall when the leaves are turning different colors, the wind is crisp and the sun is shining bright. It brings me to a Zen state of mind and makes me feel as though I am one with nature when I sit and mindlessly stare at the lake. It brings me peace, and as a college student that’s sometimes hard to come by.



Ph.D. Profile: Leslie Klein

Leslie Klein is a current Grady College Ph.D. student concentrating in Journalism. Formerly a high school English, yearbook and journalism teacher, Klein is researching the intersection of media law and scholastic journalism. She plans to use her research to advocate for student speech and press rights.

Following is a brief interview with Klein.

GC: What made you decide to pursue your Ph.D.?

LK: I started my career as a high school English, journalism and yearbook teacher. While in that position, I became passionate about advocating for student press rights. There was a lot I learned about journalism on the job, but I wanted a formal education in the subject, and I wanted to dive deeper into this niche area that consumed so much of my time and interest.

Graphic with Klein's answers to three Q&A questions.

GC: What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

LK: I think of myself as a teacher first and researcher second, so I hope to find a position as a professor at a teaching institution after I graduate. I would also love to go back to advising because there’s something so special about the work that happens in a student newsroom. So fingers crossed there will be a college newspaper out there somewhere that’s looking for a new adviser when I’m on the job market!

GC: What made you decide to come to Grady College?

LK: When I was applying for my Ph.D., Dean Earnest Perry at the University of Missouri (where I got my master’s) recommended I add UGA to my list of potential schools because of the strong connections between the two programs. I ultimately chose Grady because I wanted the chance to work with my now-adviser Dr. Jon Peters, who is an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to communications law (and a great guy)!

GC: Please provide a brief explanation of your thesis topic and why it’s important to you.

LK: Student journalists are journalists. In many communities, college newspapers often function as the local paper of record. Yet, student journalism seems to be constantly under attack. (Look no further than Texas A&M, where university administrators just unceremoniously eliminated the print edition of their student newspaper.) I want to use my research to support student journalists and their advisers and advocate for the value that these organizations can bring to both their surrounding communities and the field of journalism as a whole.

Leslie Klein, Ph.D. student, stands on the walkway outside of Grady College.
Klein received her master’s degree in journalism law and conflict resolution from the University of Missouri and her bachelor’s degree in English education from Florida State University. (Photo: Sarah Freeman).
GC: What other projects (research, teaching or otherwise) have you been involved with as a doctoral student?

Since coming to Grady, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with several faculty members on research projects that are in various stages of development. The faculty here really want you to engage in research and take the lead on projects, and the program facilitates those connections for you so you are able to start researching right away. This summer, I will also be joining the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent.

GC: What has been the highlight of your doctoral education to date?

Last month, I learned that the first paper I wrote as a first author was accepted to a journal, and that was such a rewarding feeling. Knowing that people find your contribution to the field valuable after you have spent months thinking about it and writing makes all the time spent on the project worth it!

Former and current Grady faculty contribute to new crisis planning tool

If the past two years have proven anything, it is that crises can strike at any moment. 

That’s why Ann Hollifield, professor emeritus and former Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Research at Grady College, was inspired to assist in the creation of The Media Resilience Scanner, a comprehensive online crisis preparation, management and recovery tool for news organizations and journalists around the world. 

The tool, now available for free online, was recently released by the German media development organization DW Akademie, which is part of Deutsche Welle, a public service broadcaster and strategic partner of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

“The Media Resilience Scanner is designed to help news organizations prepare for a variety of crises that may disrupt their operations when journalists are needed most,” Hollifield explained. “The scanner also helps news managers prepare to financially survive the aftereffects of crises. Finally, it can be used as a staff training tool, particularly for journalists who will be working in the field under crisis conditions.”

The tool guides media professionals step by step through the process of evaluating and planning for risks, managing crises as they occur and addressing residual risks to news media viability that may occur in the aftermath of a disruption. 

Screenshot of crisis categories from the Resilience Scanner website.
Users can pick from a set of crises categories to design their plans.

By answering a series of questions, users can build their own crisis plans for a wide range of categories, including “basic planning,” “natural and human-made disaster” and “digital threats,” among others. At the end, the tool creates a customized crisis preparation and management plan as a downloadable PDF.

“The scanner was developed based on interviews with more than 30 news executives and journalists around the world, who have steered their news organizations through a variety of crises, including Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa,” said Hollifield. “Academic research on crisis management was consulted, as were multiple other sources of expertise. The scanner reflects best practices and suggestions from news professionals who have lived the experiences.”

Hollifield went on to explain that Dodie Cantrell-Bickley, senior lecturer in journalism, as well as Professors Emeritus Michael Castengera and David Hazinski, all contributed directly and indirectly to the research she did for this project, as did the many years of international collaborative research projects she worked on for the Cox Center.