Students return from covering World Cup with sharpened skills and AP bylines

This summer, 17 University of Georgia sports media and visual journalism students traveled to Australia to cover the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup for The Associated Press.

“It’s one thing to sit in a class and look at great works, breaking them down into component parts to understand how they were made,” said Mark Johnson, a principal lecturer in Journalism, who was one of three professors on the trip. “But to be on the pitch for the largest women’s sporting event in history, with deadlines every minute and seeing the works that you produced show up, minutes after they were made, on web sites and social media feeds around the worldthat’s a whole new level of learning.”

The students were separated into three groups and sent to one of three Australian cities Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne – where they spent nearly three weeks contributing to the AP’s coverage of the historic sporting event. 

Three students wait for the start of the Jamaica news conference at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Emily Dozier, Savannah Hernandez and Cassidy Hettesheimer wait for the start of the Jamaica news conference at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Mark E. Johnson)

“This was massive. This was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said sports media student Luke Winstel. “I transferred to Georgia a little over a year ago, and this is why. These opportunities.” Winstel covered the Australian national team as a writer in Brisbane. 

Accompanying the students on the trip were Johnson and two other Grady College faculty members: Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society, and Carlo Finlay, academic professional and assistant director of the Carmical Sports Media Institute. Michaelis, based in Sydney, and Finlay, in Brisbane, functioned as the editors for the writers, while Johnson, in Melbourne, served as the students’ photo editor. 

The trip was funded in large part by the John Huland Carmical Foundation, with additional support from the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair in Journalism Excellence and Carter Excellence funds.

The students were also supported by Canon Professional Services through a loan of top-level equipment and on-site technical support. Students were able to plug these cameras into field-level network cables and send images seconds after they were made.

A student photographer stands with with two cameras on a soccer field talking with a coach.
“This trip really helped me grow in so many ways,” said Jessica Gratigny, a student photographer who was based in Sydney. (Photo: Sophie Ralph)

Before the World Cup began, each writer was assigned a team to research, Michaelis explained. They developed an understanding of the history of that team and all of the surrounding storylines. They then went to as many training sessions and media availabilities as they could for their assigned teams. 

Leading into matches, they wrote advanced features and spot-news stories. On match days, they wrote recaps, which the AP required be filed by the final whistle, as well as breaking news stories and feature sidebars. To report the stories, the students typically had to navigate the mixed zone, a space where reporters attempt to snag a quote from players as they walk to the locker room. 

Michaelis and Finlay often found themselves working in documents simultaneously with the students, editing on the fly. Michaelis and Finlay also helped students craft story ideas and acted as the liaisons between the students and the AP, filing stories when they were ready to be published. 

“The students’ commitment to producing high-quality work day after day after day, despite some early mornings and many late nights, showed how much they cared and how much they valued this experience,” said Michaelis. “Seeing that was so rewarding for me.”

“This was one of the most rewarding things of my entire career, seeing how professional the students were and how high of a level they worked on,” added Finlay. 

Two students attend a press conference.
Student journalists regularly attended press conferences to support their coverage. (Photo: Sophie Ralph)

Similarly, the photojournalism students worked on player profiles, feature packages and live-game coverage, Johnson explained. The students were able to plug their cameras into network cables on the pitch to send back for editing in real time. 

Johnson, too, acted as the intermediary between the students and the AP, making selections, applying metadata and captions and then handing them off for consideration.  

“Going in, our expectation was that their work would be looked at after the matches,” said Johnson. “Once we got started, though, the AP started asking for some images seconds after key moments happened. Goals, injuries, reactions – all of these were sent off within two or three minutes of them happening on the field.”

“The work they produced far exceeded what I’d hoped for – and my hopes were pretty high,” Johnson added. “They fell into the rhythm of the match quickly, moved distractions to the back of their mind and focused on the story that was quickly evolving in front of them.”

For the sports media and visual journalism students, the experience sharpened their skills while reaffirming that they have what it takes to excel in their respective fields. 

“This trip really helped me grow in so many ways,” said Jessica Gratigny, a student photographer who was based in Sydney. “With soccer being such a fast-paced sport, I had to stay alert. I learned to anticipate what might happen, while also staying ready for the unexpected.”

“What I gained were such high standards,” added Winstel. “You have to make the most out of everything. I learned a lot about how to do that, and how to compete.”

Luke Winstel stands on a Women's World Cup soccer field
Luke Winstel covered the Australian national team as a writer in Brisbane. (Photo: Submitted)

The full experience of covering the World Cup, which involved meeting journalists, interacting with players and witnessing fans from countries all around the world, also left lasting cultural impressions. 

“I’ll never forget being in Marta’s last World Cup press conference,” said Savannah Hernandez, a student writer who was based in Melbourne. “When asked about her legacy, she spoke about how much the women’s game has grown since she started playing. She noted the increase of women journalists in the room. This emotional moment of reflection connected me to the impact of this experience.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget the atmosphere,” added Gratigny. “These matches brought together passionate fans of all ages from around the world. Getting to be on the pitch during a match and witness that was just an unreal experience. After a couple of matches, I watched some players diving into the crowd to celebrate with their fans. The way they embraced and celebrated together was truly something special to see.”

“One other thing that will always stick with me is the pep talks from Professor Michaelis,” she continued. “It was really inspiring to get to go on a trip with someone who I admire. She really helped me believe in myself.”

New podcast studio opens on first floor

Grady College has converted a space on its first floor into a high-tech podcast studio. The new studio gives students the opportunity to hone their skills in one of the fastest-growing methods of communication. 

Featuring advanced sound equipment, the studio is available for both classroom and student use. It is large enough for Grady College professors to teach podcasting lessons in and available for the College’s students to produce podcasts. 

“This studio represents the massive audience shift to audio storytelling,” said Charlotte Norsworthy, a part-time instructor in Journalism at Grady College and producer of The Lead Podcast. “More and more, audiences are engaging with stories through the ear, and it is incredibly exciting for Grady to be engaging our students in the latest industry developments. I am thrilled to dive into this space with the students.”

The sound isolation booth in the new podcast studio
The sound isolation booth allows students to do voiceover or single-track narration recording. (Photo: Jackson Schroder)

The studio is designed to let up to four students record a live-to-tape podcast together, each with their own microphones and audio monitoring. There is also a sound isolation booth for doing voiceover or single-track narration recording. Students can bring in a laptop, plug in to a high-quality microphone, close the door behind them and have a quiet, clean space to record in.

In the coming months, additions to the space will allow students to record video and seamlessly bring guests in virtually, from outside the room. 

“This is no home studio and it’s a far cry from a closet,” said Kim Landrum, a senior lecturer in Advertising who will be using the new studio in the spring for her Podcast Production and Branding course. “Our students will learn production techniques on the same hardware and software they can expect to find in the industry – and in many cases better. This is the real deal.”

The studio’s construction was organized by Grady College’s chief technology officer, Mark Johnson, who is also a senior lecturer in journalism. 

At the moment, faculty can request access for their students through Mark Johnson at A scheduling system will become available within the coming months. 


Photojournalism students capture meaning of Georgia National Fair

Thirteen photojournalism students recently sprawled across the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agriculture Center. They, under the guidance of senior lecturer Mark Johnson, were tasked with the same purpose as the six previous years of student visits to the Georgia National Fair: Don’t show what the fair looks like, show what it means.

The annual visit to capture the meaning of the Fair festivities began in 2014.

“The goal of the workshop is to give the students an immersive experience in visual storytelling and allow them to hear different voices on how to accomplish that,” Johnson said.

Fellow journalism faculty members Dodie Cantrell and Kyser Lough joined in on the 2021 workshop. Alumni Allison Carter (ABJ ’09) and Andrea Briscoe (ABJ ’12) also went to serve as coaches. Visiting professionals from around the region also accompany the students and faculty. Mike Haskey from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and Billy Weeks, an independent photojournalist and professor at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, attended and are regular visiting professionals every year.

Here is a sample of photos taken on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

  • Photo: Abigail Vanderpoel

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighted the students’ work from the 2021 workshop.

The Bitter Southerner recently published an online gallery from the first six events. You can view it here.


#ProfilesofTenacity: Kathryn Skeean

What are you passionate about?

I am extremely passionate about supporting women in media, specifically women that go into sports media. As a woman in sports, I have first hand experience dealing with how difficult it can be. I love connecting with other women who are as passionate about sports as I am and helping others get into the field! 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am an extremely shy person by nature. I mention this only because I have spoken with a lot of people who are nervous about going into journalism because they are introverted by nature due to the amount we have to talk to strangers and be in overwhelming situations. I am living proof that you can do it!

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity to me means rolling with the punches and remaining undeterred when the going gets tough. 

Who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

Two professors in particular have had a major impact during my time at UGA: Rebecca Burns and Mark Johnson. Both have advocated for me endlessly, and both took a chance on me when I got to UGA. I remember going to Professor Johnson’s office when I was a freshman, nowhere near entering his program, shaking in my boots, and he was incredibly open to helping me get better. Rebecca was like a second mother to me at The Red & Black, always making sure I was home safe from protest coverage. She took a chance on me at The Red & Black when she was newsroom advisor and I was an overly enthusiastic contributor, and I will always be grateful to her for that. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment would probably have to be when I set foot on the field at Truist Park for the first time, and said to myself, “I did this. I got myself here.” It was a dream come true, and to be honest, I don’t think I stopped grinning at any point during my time there. That really solidified to me that I am supposed to be doing this.

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

Instagram is my favorite just because it is a great platform for photo-oriented people. I get to share all of my work in a clean-looking, fun fashion. 

Kate photographed an Atlanta United game this summer while working as an intern for the Gwinnett Daily Post.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

Both of my parents always emphasized working hard and not expecting anything to be handed to me. That was how I was raised, and that is how I tackle things to this day. It wasn’t really a single piece of advice, more like a mindset. Both of my parents inspire me every day.

Who is your professional hero?

I have so, so many. My uncle Chris Christo is a photojournalist at the Boston Herald, and he is the reason I really got into journalistic photography. Another would be Kevin Liles, the Braves’ team photographer, who I had the pleasure of meeting over the summer. The work he produces is absolutely stunning.  

What are you planning to do after graduation?

My plan post-graduation is to work in the sports media world in some capacity as a photographer, whether that be as a photojournalist or working with an organization in the MLB, NFL or a school athletic association. My internship as a sports photographer with the Gwinnett Daily Post really solidified my plans. I realized that not only did it not feel like “work” to me, I was the happiest I had ever been while out there at the ballpark or  the field.   

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

This answer is a pretty predictable one: the “Photo Cave” in the journalism building. It is such a safe, happy place to be where I get to learn about what I love to do.

Journalism students create legacy project with documentary about UGA desegregation

Editor’s Note: The 60th Anniversary of the Desegregation at UGA documentary can be viewed in its entirety on the Grady College YouTube channel.

Many UGA students spend their time as students learning skills that build toward a capstone project.  While some define that seminal project early on, others wait for it to unfold, gradually over time. Then there is the rare student like Kelsey Coffey (AB ’20) who has that defining project of her time at UGA presented to her a month before graduation.

The invitation presented to Coffey was to help research,  anchor and report on an hour-long documentary, “60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA,” produced by Grady College Newsource.

Kelsey Coffey graduated in December with the degree in journalism.

“When I started at the University of Georgia, I couldn’t have dreamed finishing this way,” Coffey said. “Doing this project was the greatest honor of my life and my time at UGA. It was an honor, a privilege and a gift to be involved.”

Coffey and a group of  10 students worked under the direction of supervising producer Dodie Cantrell-Bickley and other Grady College faculty to put together a retrospective and study of the social impact of desegregating UGA. The documentary includes rare, archived news footage from 1961 of Charlayne Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) and Hamilton Holmes entering campus; perspectives from other students during that time; current interviews with Hunter-Gault, Mary Frances Early, Hamilton Holmes, Jr. and others; and a look at the current impact and future plans of diversity at UGA.

The idea for the documentary was presented to Cantrell-Bickley by Dean Charles Davis, who obtained funding support from the Office of the President at the University of Georgia. Cantrell-Bickley enlisted other faculty members including Valerie Boyd, Amanda Bright, Mark Johnson and Ralitsa Vassileva to help the students with the story structure, fact-checking, historical context and consistency.

The archival footage was sourced through the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection and UGA Public Affairs at the University of Georgia Libraries. The WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection is part of the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection.

While it is the news coverage from 1961 that gives the documentary its sense of perspective, it is the current interviews with Hunter-Gault, Early and Hamilton Holmes, Jr. that generate its lasting resonance.

“Having the characters tell their stories in their own voices is what gives this project value over time,” Johnson, a content advisor on the project, said. “To preserve their voices telling their story is what will make it so compelling at the 75th anniversary of desegregation and beyond.”

Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence who served as a historical consultant for the documentary, said that Hunter-Gault was extremely generous with her time and was interviewed by the students for nearly three hours during the first session.

“Charlayne was excited watching these young journalists work and ask questions that were great,” Boyd said. “You could see her sheer enjoyment of the process.”

While Hunter-Gault may have been receiving a lot of energy from the students, it was a reciprocal experience for the students.

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a gift to humanity,” Coffey said of her interactions with the professional journalist. “To be able to share time and space with an individual of her caliber is unbelievable. She was kind, gracious, funny, authentic—all of the things you would hope she would be, she is and more.”

Further reflections from students involved with the project are being gathered now and will be shared in coming weeks on the Grady Newsource website.

The documentary concludes with a panel discussion about current initiatives and future plans at UGA. The panel included (upper left, clockwise) Charlayne Hunter-Gault; Kelsey Coffey; Victor K. Wilson, UGA vice president for student affairs; Jalen Polk, UGA Black Leadership Council; and Alton Standifer, UGA assistant to the president.

The UGA student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, another important connection since Hunter-Gault is a national member of NABJ, is coordinating the premiere of the desegregation documentary.

“Charlayne has been an influential leader among NABJ and the Civil Rights movement, so it is important for us to continue to uplift the NABJ community locally by helping with this event,” said Tylar Norman, NABJ chapter president. “I hope that the legacy of this documentary on campus will be one that unites us and reminds everyone of the brave people who took the first step toward desegregating UGA and pursuing diversity and inclusion for all.”

When all is said and done, the legacy of this project focuses not only on the incredible story of desegregating UGA, but in the passion and work ethic the students telling the story committed to this project.

“The biggest bonus of this project were the students,” Cantrell-Bickley concluded. “They  produced excellent work, and when you produce work like that and you find in your soul that you are capable of producing that, you  will not want to hold yourself to a standard less than that because you know what you can achieve. Our mission is an exceptional education for our students…so, if this college can help students do that—yay!”

The 60th Anniversary of Desegregation documentary.