Grady doctoral student’s fake news research becomes book

Marcus E. Howard, journalist and Grady doctoral student, recently wrote a media literacy book in partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council and Atlanta Press Club.

“How Journalists and the Public Shape Our Democracy: From Social Media and ‘Fake News’ to Reporting Just the Facts” educate the public on the societal phenomenon surrounding facts and misperceptions of journalism.

Janice Hume, head of Grady’s journalism department and Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism; Kelly Caudle, Georgia Humanities; and Lauri Strauss, Atlanta Press Club, approached Howard about the controversial phenomenon of “fake news.”

“As we see globally today and historically, people suffer when there is only one version of the truth handed down from the government,” Howard said.

As a journalist for more than ten years, Howard agrees that criticism of the press is good, however, political attacks on the media can alter accountability of reporting. He hopes the book will demystify journalists’ efforts for timely and accurate news while also demonstrating to readers how mistakes occur and how the profession works towards correcting and improving journalism.

“Marcus did a fantastic job pulling together all the research and writing on a tight timeline,” Caudle said.

The book is in narrative form, when each chapter starts with a story related to the topic. Issues range from social media to native advertisements.

“One minute you’ll be reading about the journalism ideals of Walter Lippmann and the next minute you’ll learn how the Kardashians’ use of native advertisements landed them in hot water,” Howard said.

Howard spent last summer researching on campus and reaching out to media experts at Grady and within the state. Monica Pearson (MA ’14), a retired WSB-TV Atlanta news anchor, wrote the forward of the book in order to bring trusted credibility to the project. Howard also spent the summer attending panels and events.

“[Atlanta] featured panel discussions with prominent journalists who talked about many of the issues raised in the book,” Howard said. “The turnout was impressive, which I think is a testament to how interested and concerned people are about the state of news media. I hope the book enlightens them on their paths in some small way.”

Read Howard’s book, available online, here.

#GradyGrit: Meet Thomas May

What made you choose EMST as your major?
I’ve always wanted to end up in a writer’s room for TV, so when I transferred to UGA, I knew that I would apply for admission into Grady, and furthermore, into EMST. I remember being really excited that Grady actually had a program dedicated to that type of storytelling because it seems to be a bit of a rarity, even though it’s growing everyday.

What are your career aspirations with your Grady major?
Writing for television or working in television development. I think being on either side of the table would provide for some really interesting and fulfilling opportunities to tell the types of stories you want to tell. But honestly, more bluntly and simply, just to make a career out of telling stories that people want to hear, whatever the format and whatever the platform.

What has been the best advice you’ve received or learned from a Grady teacher or class?
3210 with Biddle will definitely have a lasting impact on me. I don’t know if I’ll ever direct again, but I wanted to put myself outside my comfort zone and try it, and I’m really glad that I did. I’m not a very authoritative person, or really even very talkative, so there were a lot of times where I had to sort of go beyond my nature for the final product. But my crew was awesome and invaluable, and Biddle’s advice never fails to pull you towards something better. It was one of those really tough things that makes you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to the second you’re done with it.

How do you think Grady majors stand out on campus?
I think everyone in Grady has worked really hard to get where they are, and they know it, so there’s a certain amount of confidence that I think people notice. On top of that, there’s a lot of passion in Grady. Everybody really wants to be here and cares about the stories they’re telling and the work they’re doing. Also, though this one might be pretty obvious, the communication of ideas really does stand out. We all know how to get across what we’re trying to say.

What did you study during CURO and why?
I studied the Peabody Archive under the direction of Dr. Taylor Miller. Our catalyst was finding and curating a list of really cool or unique programming that we have in the archive, and the research sort of evolved into building a foundation for future research. Once we had found our programs and paper artifacts, we started to build topical concentrations around those as examples for the type of research that could be done using the archive. There’s a lot of unique capabilities that it has to offer, not just because of the rarity of the programming, but because of the context that such a complete collection provides. If you’re curious about the viewer responses or funding information for a particular program, a lot of times the entrants provided that information to the jury when they submitted decades ago. But anyway, we got to explore a huge variety of programming, so it was really an enriching experience. Dr. Miller gave me a lot of freedom to look into topics that drew me in, but also guidance when I really needed it.

What has working at the archive taught you? How do you use your skills that you’ve learned in Grady there?
First and foremost, it’s taught me that archives are underestimated, or at least they were by me. I think in our age, we’re very quick to assume that we can find all of the information on a topic with a few Internet searches and a digitized version of a program to follow. But there’s such an incredible wealth of programming and context that’s made available and preserved because of archives that we might not even know about otherwise. I’m given a lot of opportunities there to put to use skills from Grady coursework, whether it be providing input on what pieces of stories we include in educational compilations or descriptions of footage from the archive.

What was your role like on the Peabody Student Honor Board and how did it impact you?
That was really special. Having the opportunity to select the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards with my peers, and with the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Jones, was really meaningful, but it was all pulled together when we got to meet and talk with all of the recipients in New York. It was a constant reminder that people are telling incredible stories in innovative ways, a reminder that I think was never undervalued against the backdrop of what often felt like a world that would much rather focus on other stories at the time. Dr. Jones also really cares about recognizing stories on platforms that a majority of award-bestowers and the like haven’t really caught up with yet, and by examining those stories with a demographic of people that know those platforms really well: college students. I think that was the biggest impact on me: a reminder that even though you often feel like because of your age you have less to add to an academic discussion, sometimes you might actually have more.

Favorite movie quote?
This excerpt from Sam’s speech in The Two Towers because LotR and storytelling:
“…It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why…”

What are your summer plans?
I’m spending my last summer in Athens. I’m taking my final two Grady classes online and will continue to work at the archive. I also just finished a feature-length script that I plan to spend my summer preparing for competitions. I hope to write a lot. It’s something that’s always hard to make time for, but I think this summer will be a good opportunity for that.

Any Netflix/Hulu recommendations?
A Young Doctor’s Notebook and The Last Kingdom (both on Netflix)

#GradyGrit: Meet Gustavo Cervantes

Why Grady?

Since senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to study public relations. I also wanted to stay in-state, and when weighing the options for PR programs in this state, studying at Grady was the obvious choice after doing a little bit of research. I did debate between getting a smaller-school atmosphere at GCSU, but when I thought about what would be more beneficial to my career in the long-term, I knew that I had to pick Grady.

How do you feel Grady celebrates diversity?

I remember my freshman year of college I met this guy at my church who I found out was a senior advertising major. His family background was really similar to my own, and I remember paying extra attention to this because I had never really had a professional/peer role model that looked like I did. He reached out often to me and I later found myself wishing I had talked to him more. Anyway, I won’t forget when I found out that he was going to be the convocation speaker for the 2017 Grady graduation. It was honestly big for me, picturing him up there, a guy who really made it despite being a first-generation American like me. At that point as a freshman, it renewed my excitement and determination to get into Grady.

What is your dream job after graduating from Grady?

My dream job after graduating from Grady would be working with the Entertainment Software Association in Washington DC. Working for this interest group would perfectly combine my Grady training and my interest/passion for the video games industry.

What has it been like to take on a leadership role in PRSSA?

Leadership for PRSSA has been very rewarding. It certainly has come with its trials and tribulations but getting to know my peers in public relations on a more personal level is always a joy. Being on the publications committee specifically, I am always floored by the amount of talent that my committee members display in the articles they put together for our newsletter every month.

How did you get started in Model UN?

In high school I always loved to do speech and debate competitions, and I started the Model UN club at my school in my senior year. Once I got to UGA, applying to be on the Model UN team was a no-brainer for me. I felt really lucky to get in as a freshman because of how intense the application and interview process is. Having done the club for three years now, it has definitely been the defining experience of my college career up until now. The UGA Model UN team is filled with some of the most motivated, talented and brightest people I have ever met, and I have been lucky to get to learn how to refine my speechmaking and debating skills alongside them. It has been my constant up until this point in my college career, and I will always be grateful for the experiences it has afforded me.

Cervantes’ participation in Model UN has been a constant in his college career while refining his speaking skills.

How do you use your Grady skills working with the UGA Neuroscience Program? What have you learned from doing it?

I actually got into my current job at the UGA Neuroscience Program before I was admitted into the public relations major. There was a for-sure a huge difference in the quality of my communications work for the Neuroscience Program before and after I started taking classes in Grady. Being in Grady has really elevated my value at my job – my superiors really respect what I have to say about our communication strategy, and thanks to that I get a lot of agency in what I do for the program.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I would say that winning second place in my Model UN committee at NYU’s collegiate competition. It was my first time winning an award at a Model UN competition, and I know it’s kind of lame to say it, but I beat out this person from Harvard in my room. At the beginning of the weekend I wasn’t sure I had it in me.

Do you have a go-to restaurant in Athens?

My go-to restaurant in Athens is Tlaloc. On the surface they are a Mexican place with great prices and great food, but they also serve a lot of the Salvadoran cuisine that I grew up with, so going there always feels like getting a little taste of home.

Summer plans?

Right now, I’m still on the hunt for internships! I hope to stay in Athens again for the summer.

All-time favorite video game?

My favorite video game is an indie classic from 2004 called Cave Story. It holds a special place in my heart because it came into my life at just the right time – I’ve been playing it again recently and it holds up really well!

#GradyGrit: Meet Kalley Huddleston

Editor’s Note: #GradyGrit is a series of profiles of Grady College students who show determination, leadership and outreach to the community. Visit our #GradyGrit webpage for additional profiles.

What does having “Grady Grit” mean to you?

Being a Grady Grit means the WORLD to me. I have dyslexia so school has always been a struggle for me so it is just such an honor seeing all my hard work pay off. It is just another reminder that if you keep your eye on the prize you can touch the sky!

What is the best part about being an EMST major?

The best part about being an EMST major is the friendships! I am a transfer student to UGA, so I never really got to meet my “crew” by living in the freshman dorms, eating at the dining halls, having the freshman odyssey class, ect. But as an EMST major I met 60+ amazing, wonderfully talented, smart, caring and fun individuals right away. You grow so close to the people in your cohort and that is something I will forever be grateful for. 

What is the hardest part about being an EMST major?

The hardest part about being an EMST major is not comparing yourself to others. EMST is great because you are always being encouraged to push yourself, but it is hard not to discouraged by people saying, “Well I have already made five short films that have won contests and film festivals. What have you done?!” You have to keep reminding yourself that this is school and we are all here for one reason: to learn! So there really is no point in talking about what you have done it is all about what you will do!

How do you think Grady celebrates diversity?

Grady is always celebrating diversity by allowing the students to share their stories. Whether it is a film, journalism, artwork, makeup, tattoos, piercings, music, costumes, ect, there is no limit! I also really appreciate the women in Grady. The Women In Media Club, the women who are professors and have their doctorate, they are a strong, fearless bunch and they inspire me every day. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself working at a production company writing for television or movies! I would hope to be in a writer’s room at that point and get to collaborate and write stories with amazing people every day. I would be happy living in either Los Angeles, New York, or Atlanta with a cat.

How did you get involved with creating The Industry? What have you learned from it?

I came up with the idea of creating The Industry after my Intro to Productions class. I did audio for our final project and it was great, I totally loved it, but I felt that I had become “the sound girl”. I love working with sound and I want to continue to do so in the future, but I wanted to learn how to direct, write and produce. It is hard getting your hands on a new job when you don’t have any past experiences, so I wanted to create a safe space for students to try new things with no consequences. At The Industry, there is no limit on what you can and cannot do. 

From creating The Industry, I have learned that teamwork is everything. Having a team of people you can trust and work well with is everything. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful team (Julian Hagins, Gillian Revoir, Anne Neenan, Trey Leonar, Rachel Gomez and our advisor Dr. Hamilton) to help me every step of the way. Without them, The Industry would not be where it is today. I’ve also learned it is important to stay organized and stick to your goals! It is easy to get sidetracked with your ambitions and long term goals, but you need to focus on the short goals as well because these short goals will eventually get you to your long term goals.

How did you get started with your baking business and what is it like to run it?

I started baking in high school when I became obsessed with watching The Food Network. I am entirely self-taught which has been so fun because there are no rules! Once I started getting the hang of baking, I reached out to friends and family to see if they wanted me to bake for any parties or events and that is how my little home baking business got started! I made a website and business cards so I guess you could say I’m pretty official (haha). It is still very small but one day I hope to open my own bakery!

Besides film, Huddleston’s other passion includes baking. Follow her bakery account on Instagram, @kalley_konfections.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be to write for an animated TV series or movie. I love cartoons and animation because there is absolutely no limit. If you want to have a character who has three heads and works at a McDonalds you can do that because cartoons don’t have to make sense! That is what makes cartoons so beautiful and fun.

Favorite social media outlet?

My favorite social media outlet is Twitter because people are actually funny and raw. On Instagram and Snapchat people try too hard to be perfect, but Twitter is where you can let it alllll out.

Any advice for readers?

If I have any “last words” I just want to let kids with learning disabilities know that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! Do not let anyone stop you including yourself. Just keep pushing you can do this!

#GradyGrit: Meet Nathan Gostin

Editor’s Note: #GradyGrit is a new series of profiles of Grady College students who show determination, leadership and outreach to the community. Search “#GradyGrit” on the Grady College website for additional profiles.

Why Grady?

I actually applied to Grady as a transfer from Kennesaw State, because the EMST degree really offered the best option for a film/video-centric major around the area. We’ve had an incredible amount of notable alumni and the program has an awesome hands-on approach to a lot of the learning. With that, it’s also varied in the approaches it takes to teaching. For example; Professor Biddle’s classes offer that hands-on aspect I just mentioned, whereas Dr. Fortmueller’s classes offer a very unique perspective on the business and research aspects of the field. Plus, being the #2 journalism school in the country doesn’t hurt.

What are you planning to do after college with your Grady degree?

Being an EMST major, I’ve had a lot of experience in different aspects of production. I produced a short film in my first semester, and in subsequent semesters I’ve done everything from assistant-directing to full post work. I really enjoy editing and post, but with my Terry degrees to compliment what I’ve learned through Grady, I think that I’d do well in a management or supervisory position with an entertainment company. Long story short: I’d love to do post or executive producing.

What has been the most important skill you’ve learned in a Grady class?

I think that while we’ve been taught numerous hard skills in camerawork, post, and production here at Grady, I think that the stress on soft-skills is also enormously helpful. Being a people person and knowing how to navigate the tough social circle that is the film industry is really a hard thing to master. The Grady professors definitely understand this, and I think they try to instill that sense of sociability into all of the students here, just to make the students as successful as they possibly can be once they graduate.

Who is your favorite Grady teacher and why?

Choosing a favorite teacher is a death sentence! In my time at Grady, I’ve had I think seven professors (Biddle, Fortmueller, Gilbert, Kavoori, Kohn, Springston, and Sridhar). I can honestly say that they’ve all brought something different to the table and that I’ve learned so much from all of them. Choosing a favorite is hard because they’ve all made an incredible impression on me, and Grady wouldn’t be the same without them.

What has been the highlight of your time in Grady?

Honestly, it’s probably the hell that is 3210 (Introduction to Production Basics). It’s definitely a little crazy while you’re going through it, but looking back it’s an incredible experience that brings everyone in the cohort closer together in ways that most other majors won’t get to experience. I think it’s safe for me to say that I’m pretty good friends with my entire cohort, and that is 100% thanks to 3210.

Any advice to future Grady/EMST students?

Future EMST students: Try hard and fail hard. This is the time to learn. Don’t forget, you’re also here to make friends. Before you know it, your classmates will either be your boss or you’ll be theirs.

As the Co-President of the UGA Club Gymnastics, following a year of being President, Nathan shows leadership through support for his teammates.

How did you get started in photography/videography?

Don’t hold this against me; I think I started making videos on bootlegged software when I was in about 5th grade after watching some crazy YouTube videos from a UNC student. I continued to mess around with my mom’s camcorder and editing software as I grew up, but when I was about to go to college, I hadn’t really considered video to be something that I could make a career out of. I started out as a Computer Science major, then added Technical Communications, then dropped CS and added Business Management, and then I transferred here and started with EMST and Finance. Wild ride, I know. But as I got into college. I continued to do some video and photography personally as well as occupationally. I’ve done weddings, portraits, corporate marketing, and I currently shoot and edit video at the Office of Online Learning.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I feel like creative inspiration comes from a lot of places. For me, it’s some absurd combination of films, music, novels, photography, and even people I meet. Literally everything you see has some story; it’s just a matter of putting a visual representation to that story.

Best Athens restaurant?

Oh my gosh this is almost worse than asking for my favorite teacher. I feel like I’m betraying my family. Cali n Tito’s maybe? Or Pulaski Heights ramen?? Maybe Tlaloc. Go to Tlaloc if you haven’t been.

Favorite show to binge-watch?

I generally stick to movies, but recently I’ve been through Mind Hunter, Peaky Blinders and Godless. I think I’ve got to go with Black Mirror honestly. Or WestWorld or Game of Thrones. I’m a slave to capitalism.