I didn’t want to be a journalist at first. I tried out a biology major when I first got into college and realized I didn’t really have a knack for science. I’ve always enjoyed writing and creating visual media, so once I got to UGA, it became clear that journalism was the way to go.
What motivates you?
As human beings, we have so much potential. But when people are uninformed and uninterested in their communities, all that potential slips away. Journalism is the cornerstone of any society, and I think being a journalist — any kind of journalist — is one of the most noble professions. So what motivates me is the difference I can make through my position as a journalist.
What is the best or most rewarding part about being a Grady student?
Grady provides its students with such a variety of opportunities. That’s the best part about this college. While UGA is large and may seem overwhelming, once I got into Grady, I understood what community and support in an academic setting really feels like.
What has been your proudest moment is the past year?
I was awarded first and second place for a news and feature story, respectively, by the Georgia College Press Association for work I wrote for The Red & Black. That felt pretty amazing, to have my hard work recognized.
Where do you get your news? Outlet/app/online vs. print?
I get most of my news from online sources. It varies, but The New York Times and NPR (radio) are my main sources of news. And of course, local outlets such as The Red & Black and Flagpole.
What are your personal hobbies?
I’ve never been too much of a hobby person, but photography has always been something I enjoy doing. Being able to use my photography skills for photojournalism purposes has been a game changer. I enjoy thrift shopping, spending time with my partner and my cat, and discovering new things about Athens. Traveling is something I wish I could do more of.
Who is your professional hero and why?
My grandmother, Leticia Callava. Born in Cuba, she immigrated to Miami, Florida, in the 1950’s and created an extremely successful, professional career in journalism out of nothing. She was one of the top anchors in Spanish-language television, battling sexism and racism that ran rampant during the time period along the way. She has interviewed people such as singer Celia Cruz, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Mother Teresa. I admire so many journalists, but I have to say that having one in the family has had a major impact.
What is your favorite spot on campus and why?
Probably the turtle pond in front of the Ecology building. It’s the spot that brings me the most joy. But the law building on north campus comes second. If I’m going to do work on campus, it’ll most likely be in the Law Library.
Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.
For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.
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.
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Degree: Journalism Major, Environmental Law minor, New Media and Sustainability Certificates
Activities and involvement: National Press Photography Association (President), McGill Fellow, Bag the Bag board member, student media assistant at Dean of Students Office, multimedia at the Office of Sustainability and Photo Editor at The Red & Black
How has Grady influenced your time at UGA?
BW: Since starting classes within Grady, I’ve realized how important it is to care about what you do and who you’re reporting on. Not that I didn’t care before, but seeing how much time and care some of the faculty members put into the students and hearing their previous reporting experiences really drives that point home. If you don’t care, then why should anybody else?
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
BW: My most memorable experience was actually before I was even a student at UGA. I was touring UGA for the third time, and I still hated it. But I knew I was going to be a journalist, and since UGA has one of the best journalism programs, I wasn’t going to pass it up. (But I was really close…) So during this third tour, I ended up meeting one of the pre-Grady advisers, Beth Rector. I walked into the journalism building for the first time and instantly felt at home. I had toured a few other schools and journalism programs, but none of them felt right. I know that sounds super cheesy, but I hated everything about UGA until I walked into Grady, and when I walked out I couldn’t wait to come back.
What has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
BW: Going to the University of Georgia and reporting on the city of Athens has had the biggest impact on my life so far. (I know it sounds cliché, but hear me out.)
I went to the same Christian private school for 10 years straight, and even though I’d like to think I was aware of what was going on in the city around me, I never pushed my boundaries too much. Almost all my friends were white, middle- or upper-class individuals who weren’t forced to face the reality of our community or the consequences of our actions. And while some of my friends and I cared about social and political issues, none of us did anything about it.
“Coming to UGA and reporting on Athens-Clarke County forced me to face my privilege and do something to initiate change in my community.” -Becca Wright
Coming to UGA and reporting on Athens-Clarke County forced me to face my privilege and do something to initiate change in my community. Before I came to UGA, I knew nothing about Athens. Now, I know what almost feels like too much. Instead of thinking that I know what’s going on in my city, I actually know what’s happening. I have talked to middle school students who don’t know where their next meal will come from, I’ve met the people who work in the landfill and take care of the products of our throw-away society and I’ve reported on the nonprofits trying to fix our transportation system.
I don’t think I would have experienced this if I had gone to college back at home, and I’m not sure going anywhere else would have provided me with the opportunity to report on my community the way that I have. I will never look at or think about myself and my privileges the same way I used to, and I hope that the reporting that I’ve done over the past few years has helped others initiate change as well.
What is your best advice for a student taking their first class at Grady College?
BW: Take it seriously. A lot of times with early journalism classes I felt like I wasn’t learning anything new, but I regret not working harder on those projects and using the knowledge that I already had to my advantage.
What motivates you?
BW: Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated because of the current climate surrounding journalism and the “fake news” rhetoric, but at the same time, it’s kind of fuel to the fire. There’s nothing I want to do more than go out and document the people and issues of our community, and by doing so all I can hope is that we’re informing the public of what they need to know to make decisions moving forward.
Last show/favorite show you binge-watched (more than 2 shows in a sitting)?
BW: The most recent was The Office, but my favorite is either West Wing or Gravity Falls.
BW: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.”
— Harry S. Truman
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
What would people be surprised to know about you?
BW: My go-to “fun fact” is that I have a black belt in martial arts. Also that I’m part-Cuban, and that I’m originally from Kansas City, Kansas
Favorite Athens restaurant?
BW: Either Big City Bread Company or home.made.
Create your own question to answer: What’s your favorite project or story you’ve reported on at Grady or during an internship?
BW: I started a podcast last semester for my multiplatform story production class. It only has two episodes, but for someone who has listened to maybe 15 podcast episodes in her life, I’m super proud of it. I never realized how much I loved audio/radio journalism (I don’t know why, I freaking love NPR), and I’m hoping to continue it when I actually have time.
The National Press Photographers Association has announced a new partnership with the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication to promote, organize and archive the annual Best of Photojournalism Competition.
The contest’s 100 categories span still, video, multimedia and editing disciplines and draw entries from around the world. The 2019 competition will mark the first time in more than five decades that all disciplines are housed together.
The decision follows a year-long, competitive process the NPPA began in 2017. The partnership will allow all entries from the Best of Photojournalism Competition to be permanently archived at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Libraries, and Grady College will develop case studies based on the winning entries for the benefit of classrooms, newsrooms and independent journalists to help them improve their own storytelling.
“Grady College welcomes the Best of Photojournalism contest, which for us signifies the strengthening of a relationship that began with the relocation of the National Press Photographers Association to the college in 2015,” said Grady College Dean Charles Davis. “This agreement strengthens our shared educational mission and provides the contest with a most important archival home.”
“Over the past year, NPPA’s Board of Directors has given a great deal of consideration in evaluating all of its options for a home to its flagship contests,” said newly-elected NPPA President Michael P. King. “We are excited about this next chapter in our contests’ history and look forward to growing our partnership with the University of Georgia.”
The University of Georgia will spend much of 2018 working with the NPPA to develop a new contest entry system and updating entry rules and procedures in advance of the opening of the 2019 contest.
The National Press Photographers Association is dedicated to the advancement of visual journalism – its creation, practice, training, editing and distribution – in all news media. For more than seven decades, NPPA has supported visual journalists through advocacy, workshops, certifications and competitions to equip its members and prepare the emerging generation of visual journalists in the face of an ever-changing media landscape. NPPA has continuously published News Photographer magazine since 1946, and it is considered to be the authoritative source on news, issues, trends and information about visual journalism. Affiliated with the NPPA is the National Press Photographers Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, charged with advancing press photography through education and awarding scholarships and fellowships to deserving students who have demonstrated ability or promise in the field of photojournalism. For more information, see www.nppa.org or follow @NPPA on Twitter.
The script could not have been written much better: photographing the SEC Championship as one of the final assignments for the Red & Black before wrapping up their college career. For graduating Grady College photojournalists Reann Huber and Casey Sykes, the stage was set for them to show off the skills they had learned and the talents they have been honing.
“The SEC Championship not only reminded me how fun this job is, but it also got me excited for what other championships I’ll hopefully shoot later in my career,” Sykes, a staff photographer for the Red & Black said of the assignment. “The atmosphere is just so unique, and whether the team you’re covering wins or loses, there’s so much emotion, so great photos happen regardless.”
For Huber, shooting the SEC Championship was a perfect segue into what she will do next as a multimedia intern at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a position Sykes is just finishing.
“I think this experience helped me a lot to prepare for my internship,” Huber, the Red & Black’s assistant photo editor, reflected. “Sports photography is something I really want to do in the future and I look forward to continuing that post-graduation.”
Just as deadlines rule in the real world, the Red & Black was publishing real-time stories during the game on its website and published a special 8-page extra edition Sunday night, featuring photographs by Sykes and Huber, and editorial features by Grady Sports Media Certificate students Emily Giambalvo and Nathan Berg.
As they prepare for graduation next week, and their next internships (Sykes heads to Michigan six-month photo internship at the Grand Rapids Press/MLive), they shared some thoughts about what it was like to photograph the electrick atmosphere at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Georgia Bulldogs were crowned SEC champions.
Grady College: How do you prepare to cover a game like the SEC Championship?
Reann Huber: One of the first things I do, and I do before every game, is double check my gear. Make sure all cameras, lenses, cards, and hard drives are working properly without any glitches because there is no time to have any issues before, during, or after the game. You also have to be well versed in who the key players are on both teams, offense, defense and coaches. The last of my main preparation for this game was understanding what shots I need and when I needed to get them in by. Putting out our special edition paper the day after the game could not have been done if we did not plan our shots beforehand.
Grady College:Other than location, how was photographing the SEC Championship different than a typical college football game?
Casey Sykes: The nerves. I felt queasy for a week leading up to the game because I was so nervous and excited. They were totally gone halfway through the first quarter, though.
GC:Tell us about the timeline of your day?
CS: We got there around 10 a.m. and walked around and shot tailgating activities until we were allowed to pick up our credentials at noon. Then, we got situated in the press room, sent off tailgating photos, made sure code replacements, captions, hard drive files, etc. were all in place for the game, ate a quick lunch, and went to shoot Georgia players getting to the stadium at 2 p.m. After that, we went back to the photo room to edit and send off what we had of those. Then we got out on the field around 3:20 to get ready to shoot the game. We shot pre-game and the first half and came back in at halftime to send in our selects from the first half, which was at about 6 p.m. Then we went back out, shot the second half and post-game, and came back to edit and send off those ones, probably at around 8:15 p.m., which was great because the special SEC paper of The Red & Black had a 9:00 p.m. deadline. Then, we hung out a bit longer in the photo room, I edited a few more of my favorites, and we went to hang with the writers (Nathan Berg and Emily Giambalvo) in the press box while they finished up their stories. We headed out from the stadium around 11:30 p.m.
GC:What facets of your Grady photojournalism education prepared you to cover this event so well?
RH: I could not have done what I did on Saturday night without the experience that I have gained going through the photojournalism program at Grady. While I know there are certain photos that I know I have to make, I have been taught to look for more than just what is right in front of me. There is always a story that needs to be told and I have learned to be able to effectively try to tell either side of the story, win or lose in this situation.
CS: Professor Mark Johnson always emphasizes the importance of people over things, and I’ve always tried to carry that with me when I shoot sports. He says stuff like, ‘don’t show me the game, show me what it means’. That goes a long way.
GC:We know the trophy presentation was chaotic. How did you position yourselves so well to get the incredible images that you did?
RH: The presentation of the championship trophy was probably the most chaotic photo situation that I have ever been placed in. To make a dynamic photo, I’ve been taught to either get higher or lower and with the crowd pooling around the stage, I knew I needed to get up as high as I could. Thankfully, they had a smaller side stage set up for photographers to photograph from that I could get up to. Granted, a lot of pushing and shoving was happening and that was one of the only ways to get where I needed to be but it turned out for the better in the long run.
CS: I made sure to secure the giant telephoto lens 5 minutes before the end of the 4th quarter to lighten my load, and then I edged as close to the Georgia bench as the police would let me as the clock wound down. Then at the final spike I literally full-on sprinted toward the center of the field to get the coach handshake shot which only kind of worked. After that, I looked for Fromm, Chubb, any other notable playmakers in sight and shot whatever they were doing. The actual trophy presentation was chill because they were up on a stage and the photographers just kind of assembled in front of them. Reann was obviously doing something right though! Her shots from that are so killer.
GC: How many pictures did you take? How many were keepers vs. those that were tossed?
RH: Between pre-game and the entirety of the game, I took just under 3,000 photos. I have found that in most situations I get 10-15% of my images that I take I can actually use and that number decreases even more now that I know what will be good for paper or our online galleries.
CS: The total photos I took was 3640. About 200 were keepers. Maybe only 5% ever see the light of day.
GC:It appeared that you both were all places at the right time. How do you plan your work flow when you photograph a game as large as this one?
RH: After shooting football a number of times, both Casey and I have a good grasp at knowing where and when to be at the right time. We balance it out to where we both photograph from opposite sides and we never stop moving. Staying in one spot for the entirety of a quarter is not going to get you a good variety of photos so you have to be able to keep moving and know when and where you should be.
GC: Do you have a favorite picture from the event? If so, which one and why?
CS: I do, and it actually has nothing to do with Georgia. Maybe two hours before kickoff, Reann pointed out that Auburn was gathered in the center of the field praying as a team. Immediately I started looking for Kerryon Johnson, their star running back, but I had only seen a handful of photos of him while looking him up on Google the night before, so I only had a vague recollection of what he looked like, plus they didn’t have their jerseys on. I finally recognized him just after the huddle broke. I suppose he’s used to the press, so he thankfully ignored me as I backpedaled two feet in front of him while shooting, and he started to put in his earbuds with a sort of determined, thousand-yard stare. It was so cool to see because in that moment, just from his body language, I knew he’d be playing in the game. I didn’t even notice the Georgia and Auburn symbols above him until I started editing and that was just the cherry on top. My favorite moments to shoot are always intimate moments like that, that no one else would get to see. When I manage to find them, I definitely feel like I’ve used my access well and have done my job that day.
Highlights of the pictures that Huber and Sykes took of the SEC Championship for the Red & Black are below:
Georgia players run out on the field before the start of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017. (Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
Georgia players run onto the field before the start of the SEC Championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017 (
Photo/Reann Huber, www.reannhuber.com)
A Georgia cheerleader cheers during the second half of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017.
(Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
Georgia tailback Sony Michel (1) runs with the ball during the SEC Championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs adn the Auburn Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017 (
Photo/Reann Huber, www.reannhuber.com)
Georgia place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) runs after a play at the beginning of the first half of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017. (Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is held bak while calling for the offense to go two extra points, which was successful, after a touchdown during the second half of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017.
(Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
The Georgia defense and Auburn offense line up during the second half of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017. (Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
Andrew Smart, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart's son, makes a confetti angel after the SEC Championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 28-7 to claim the SEC Championship Title.
(Photo/Reann Huber, www.reannhuber.com)
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart's hugs and encourages Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) after the end of the SEC Championship game between the #2 Auburn Tigers and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 2, 2017. After an early Auburn touchdown and extra point, Georgia went on to score 28 unanswered points to beat Auburn and clinch the 2017 SEC Championship.
(Photo/Casey Sykes, www.caseysykes.com)
To view the complete photo albums that Huber and Sykes photographed for the Red & Black, please view:
Students don’t really expect to hear their professors tell them to “fail faster,” but this is just one of the lessons taught to a group of photojournalism students at the annual Woodall Weekend Workshop led by Mark Johnson, senior lecturer in photojournalism at Grady College.
Photojournalism student Kristin Bradshaw explains Johnson’s approach to “fail faster.”
“I’ve heard this quote on numerous occasions but never experienced it until the workshop,” Bradshaw, an international affairs and journalism double major, said. “And, yet, there I was, failing, and I realized three things: first, failing is part of the job and that’s ok; second, the sooner I accept failure, the sooner I can learn from my mistake and move on; and third, Johnson is always right.”
The 20 students in the documentary photojournalism class traveled March 24-26, 2017, to Gilmer County to attend the 12th year of the workshop. The students are paired with a group of professional photojournalists for an immersive photo assignment to capture the people and personalities of the community. Every few hours up to midnight, the students checked in with the professionals to get critiques on their pictures, many which are brutally honest.
“It was such a huge privilege to have professional photographers looking at my work and spending one-on-one time with me to help me improve my work,” Maureen Sheeran, a journalism major, said.
Bradshaw agreed. “Picture your favorite celebrity. Now picture getting to spend an entire weekend breathing the same air as them. That’s what it was like interacting with Mike Roy, Lyric Lewin, and Robin Nathan, just to name a few. While terrifying and humbling at times, the professionals were spectacular teachers.”
The students were tasked with finding their own subjects and stories to complete their assignments which included focuses on people, on places and an overall story with audio. Many of the students were surprised that the original visions they had for the workshop change quickly once it began.
“For me, the biggest takeaway from the workshop was to be flexible,” Sheeran said. “Challenges will inevitably pop up with most stories, and the best thing you can do is stay calm and figure out how to best adapt to the situation.”
Another benefit of the workshop was being encouraged to work on new skills.
“There’s always going to be a learning curve with new skills, and as a result, I have a lot of photos that are almost there, but not quite,” Sheeran said. “The important thing is that the workshop set me up to master new skills and use them in the future to make better photos.”
The Woodall Weekend Workshop is made possible through a gift from Henry (ABJ ’75) and Lynda Woodall.
A photojournalist who has visited more than 60 countries covering history-shaping events and who just won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, is the 2017 recipient of the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage.
Daniel Berehulak, a freelance journalist and regular contributor to the New York Times, will receive the medal from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and its McGill Program for Journalistic Courage. The award ceremony is expected to take place in fall 2017.
Berehulak was scheduled to accept the medal April 10, however, he rescheduled at the last minute in anticipation that he would be awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize that same day. His Pulitzer Prize was awarded for his written and photographic coverage of murders in the Philippines that appeared in a multi-media feature on the New York Times website. In March, he won the Oliver Rebbot Award and a Polk Award for the same coverage.
Berehulak’s coverage includes the Iraq War, the trial of Saddam Hussein, child labor in India, Afghanistan elections and the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan. He has documented people coping with the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan and the Chernobyl disaster. Samples of his photography can be viewed on his website at DanielBerehulak.com.
Berehulak, who is based in Mexico City, has also won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography, five World Press Photo awards, two Photographer of the Year awards from Pictures of the Year International and the prestigious John Faber Award from the Overseas Press Club.
The McGill Medal is named for Ralph McGill, the late editor and publisher of The Atlanta Constitution. McGill was regarded by many as “the conscience of the South” for his editorials challenging racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s.
The selection of Berehulak was made by the 2016 class of McGill Fellows, 12 undergraduate and graduate students chosen for academic achievement, practical experience and leadership.
The McGill Medal, now in its ninth year, is part of the McGill Program for Journalistic Courage at UGA’s Grady College.
For nearly 40 years, the McGill Lecture has brought significant figures in journalism to UGA to help the university honor McGill’s courage as an editor. In 2007, UGA added the McGill Symposium, bringing together students, faculty and leading journalists to consider what journalistic courage means and how reporters and editors exemplify it.
“All of this is for a single purpose: to advance journalistic courage,” said Diane H. Murray, director of alumni relations and outreach, and director of the McGill program at Grady College.