Denetra Walker brings social justice journalism research to Grady College

A semester after teaching her first class at Grady College, Denetra Walker is energized by the responsibility and anticipating the opportunities that lie ahead.

Walker has a passion for teaching DEI issues in the classroom, and specifically, sharing her research and expertise about how marginalized and under-represented journalists cover digital age, social justice, activism, police shootings and maternal health. She addresses the importance of representation in the classroom both openly and confidently.

“Being one of the few Black professors on the tenure track is a gift I don’t take lightly,” Walker says.

Walker joined the Department of Journalism as an assistant professor after earning her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. Although she is new to the tenure-track position, Walker is very familiar with social justice journalism after researching the topic for several years and working in several behind-the-scenes roles in television news markets including Augusta, Georgia; New York; Houston; Las Vegas; and Columbia, South Carolina.

She has presented research at regional and national Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conferences which include 8 top paper awards. Her research is published in Journalism PracticeSocial Media + Society, JournalismCultural Studies<–>Critical Methodologies, and the Journal of Sports Media.

When asked what her students can expect from her in class, she doesn’t hesitate: “My students can expect honesty, accountability and transparency. The biggest lesson they will go away with is that they are uniquely made and that the world that we live in may not always understand where you come from and what you want to do, but you should always embrace who you are and be able to listen and tell the stories of others.”

Mentoring students is at the heart of Walker’s work, and it’s apparent how well she connects with students, whether she is teaching her Social Justice Journalism class or talking in the hall with a group of Black students coming out of an NABJ meeting.

“I didn’t have a lot of people who were like me in the classroom,” Walker, a first generation graduate, said assuming a role and setting an example for those around her.

Walker earned a master’s degree in communications and journalism from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in Radio/Television from Sam Houston State University. Walker is also part of The Lift Project, a study led by the University of Minnesota, addressing misinformation in news stories and their effect in Black communities.

Denetra Walker’s Fall 2022 Social Justice Journalism class created the following podcast feature talking about what they learned during the semester. Take a listen.

Denetra Walker teaches a Special Justice Journalism class in Fall 2022. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

Alumni Who Podcast: Emily Noles

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Emily Noles is the UGA grad behind Clementine Creative Agency’s Peel Good. This bi-monthly podcast discusses “all the juicy

A graphic with blue overlay on top of a desk with audio waves and text that reads "Peel Good A Marketing Podcast"
Peel Good discusses what is going on in the marketing field in the bbi-monthly episodes. (Graphic: submitted)

 marketing of yesterday, today and tomorrow brought to you by skilled experts in different fields coming together to share their opinions and knowledge on creative marketing trends,” according to the website.

Emily graduated from UGA with a degree in advertising in 2018. While at Grady, she earned a New Media Certificate. Her NMI Capstone class served as her introduction into the audio world as she created an app for WUOG 90.5fm, the student-run alternative radio station at UGA. 

“The New Media Institute definitely helped to build this type of avenue for me to be familiar to a standpoint even though I’ve never worked in podcast before,” she said.

Emily is not only the client account manager at Clementine, but she’s also the person who dreamed up, hosts and produces Peel Good. After presenting the idea for a podcast available on Spotify and Apple Podcast in addition to YouTube, her and her teammates ran with the idea. She says that her company gave them the opportunity to explore the medium and build it from the ground up while they learned everything from filming and editing to distributing content to podcasting platforms.

The podcast began in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit. As the entire world switched from in-person to remote, Clementine transitioned the podcast to virtual operations as Emily and her team worked and filmed from home. Clementine just recently launched the second season of Peel Good in January of this year. While beginning a podcast at the start of a pandemic was a challenge, Emily says she learned lots through the first season.

“Season one was definitely getting our legs under us when it comes to podcasting because it’s not something we had done before,” she said. “It was kind of learn-as-you-go and really recognizing what was sitting well with the audience and what the audience was looking for so that we can continue to explore that interest.”

Noles talking into the microphone with a ring light shining on her while filming a podcast episode
Noles says she has learned a lot about how to podcast through Peel Good, which is a valuable skill when it comes to her industry. (Photo: submitted)

Emily said the marketing-specific podcast is “very niche to some people,” but that audience is where Peel Good’s focus lies. She says that this audience responded positively to the podcast’s formatting and flow.

“For [the listeners], they thought it was very informative but also very fun, so it’s not just kind of, you know, talking and sounding more like a lecture but more like a conversation between marketing professionals,” Emily said. “And so we took that feedback there and really amplified it and elevated it in season two.”

Throughout the process, Emily said the biggest lesson has been to lean into the audio medium. While the podcast is available to watch on YouTube, she says its primary goal is to serve listeners first — a balance that was hard to grasp at first. 

“I think the biggest lesson there is that while we are posting to YouTube, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have a visual that is so professionally cleaned up and put-together that it comes across more news anchor and presentation-like then like a conversational podcast, right? That’s the big difference we saw from season one to season two,” she said. “We kind of took a step back and realized we’re putting more focus on a visual standpoint than the audio, but podcasting is more known for its audio.”

Not only has Peel Good enabled Emily and her team to develop a new set of skills in terms of creating and maintaining a podcast, but she says it has also allowed them to grow professionally as it relates to marketing. When the team selects a topic to discuss on the show, Emily says they want to ensure they’re knowledgeable about how it relates to the industry. This entails extensive pre-show research that allows them to see what trends are appearing and “what are people talking about now that would be relevant to speak on in the podcast.”

“Everything we do is reflected in our work as well, so we take the inspiration and the research pooled that we talked about in the podcast and actually use it within our services and in our work,” she said. 

Looking to the future, Emily hopes to see the podcast expand and continue to grow in its success. Her idea of what this may look like includes garnering sponsors to take the series to the next level. Currently, the podcast does not have an allotted budget. With sponsorship, however, Peel Good would be able to further grow and reach more people. 

When it comes to other students looking to enter the podcasting world, Emily offers valuable advice. For her, the biggest lesson has been to allow mistakes to happen and use them to an advantage.

Noles sitting alongside her coworkers at a long table with microphones and laptops in front of them
Noles alongside co-founders of Clementine Creative Agency and UGA alumni Jennifer Nilsson and Merissa Davis. (Photo: submitted)

“I’m a person who thinks three steps ahead, but even sometimes because it’s not something I’ve done before, there’s going to be mishaps, there’s going to be steps that were missed, there’s going to be balls dropped, but not allowing yourself to be taking it so seriously that you feel like you need to step away from it altogether,” she said. “You just need to adjust with the problems that are faced and then learn from those so that you can better prepare for the next episode or next season and really apply what you’ve learned there.”

As she said, everyone can make a podcast look easy but there is more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye to an average listener. She says that while it may look seamless to create, edit, host and produce a podcast, there is a lot of work that goes into it and a lot of room for error. While mistakes are inevitable, Emily says it’s important not to let them be too discouraging.Listen to Emily’s podcast on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Podcast.

Alumni Who Podcast: David Mowery

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Award winning political strategist, radio host, CNN contributor, and Grady grad David Mowery is the co-host of Now! More Than Ever, a new podcast from Send The Food Back Media.A graphic that looks like a political campaign circular pin with a red, white, and blue stripe, stars, and text that reads "Now! More Than Ever:

Mowery and his longtime friend (and fellow UGA graduate) Chris Krauth feature guests from the world of politics, media, music and real life. Through their podcast, Mowrey and Krauth explore not only the nuts and bolts of their professions, but also the journey. According to the podcast’s website, this includes “the unheard sound, the unlived life, but also the shared experiences that bind us all.”

David Mowery graduated from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1999. After earning his degree in journalism, Mowrey started an externship in Washington, D.C. for Edelman

“The thing a Grady education really gives you — or gave me especially — was the ability to write and kind of write in different peoples’ voices or write for long-form, short-form,” he said. “The ability to write is underrated then and it’s underrated now.”

Mowery’s professional journey took him to Montgomery, Alabama where he currently resides and works as a political campaign consultant. Along the way, Mowery said he and Krauth started experimenting with the audio medium before podcasts were easily distributed. 

While he knew something was drawing him to the idea of podcasting, he was hesitant of how to navigate it along with his work in the political sphere. Mowery was conscious of his potential impact on the politicians he was working for, so he put his podcasting idea on hold. 

When his career led him to consult for a Senatorial candidate, he appeared on CNN multiple times. Mowery realized he enjoyed what he was doing and found himself wanting to “still have that energy” even after the campaign ended. This desire led him to attend and speak at conferences with the American Association of Political Consultants, which he really enjoyed until the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Finally, Mowery had the time and the confidence to launch a podcast alongside Krauth. The two worked and learned together as they built the podcast series. Mowery says one of their goals was not to discuss what was already at the forefront of the political conversation. 

“We didn’t want to talk about the pandemic, we didn’t want to talk about Donald Trump,” Mowery said. “And not for political reasons, but it’s because that’s what everybody’s talking about. It’s boring.”

Krauth and Mowery worked on the podcast for about six months. Eventually, Mowery decided it was time to look for guests to feature on the show. 

“I wanted to bring on guests from my industry and have them talk about both the challenges and opportunities of the industry, but also their origin story,” Mowery said. 

Through his podcast, Mowery says podcasting has become a tool for him in two big ways. First, he says his confidence has grown. At the beginning of the podcast, Mowery says he felt isolated because of extreme partisanship in the country on top of the pandemic. 

Mowery says he was at first hesitant to have guests on the show because he “wasn’t sure if people would get it.” After receiving advice from a friend who encouraged Mowery in his own skills and abilities, he decided to take the leap. 

What he realized is that he has a “public persona and positioning in [his] field that helps draw guests to it.” This realization has not only led to incredible guests on the podcast, but also an increase in Mowery’s self confidence. 

Additionally, Mowery says he has had a shift in perspective when looking at business. Now, he said he realizes that the people he has on his show can help him drive business.

In the past, Mowery says he believes having a side hustle along with a day job was viewed as a negative. While before it was worried having a podcast on the side would make him less desirable as an employee, he says now it’s a “feature not a bug.”

As he has grown in his professional journey, Mowery says the Georgia connection has remained strong. During his time in the industry, he says he has met other fellow UGA grads. 

“We see each other at conferences and it’s like, you know, your dawgs are there,” he said. “And it’s like when we get together at conferences, it’s like ‘Alright, at least I know I’ve got these folks here.”

Despite all his success, Mowery says he credits a lot of what he’s done to his time in Grady. 

“Almost everything that I’ve done in my career, I can trace to the education that I got at Georgia, at Grady.”

You can listen to Mowery’s podcast here.

A graphic showing upcoming shows including "The AJC's Greg Bluestein", "Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman", "Musician Ike Reilly", "Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes", "Time Engagement' Author Sasha Issenberg", "Georgia Election Systems Manager Gabriel Sterling" and "Pollster John Couvillion"
Now! More Than Ever’s upcoming shows. (Graphic: submitted)

Alumni Who Podcast: Heather Adams

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Heather Adams (ABJ ‘98) has not only proven she’s a PR expert by starting her own company, Choice Media Communications, but she also has entered the podcasting realm with Make Me Known to deepen her skills and expertise. 

Make Me Known has four key pillars the podcast focuses on: communications expertise, entrepreneurship, empowering women and leadership, and relationships. (Photo: submitted)

In the weekly podcast, Adams talks with guests and shares “professional insights, encouragement and practical advice” about all things communications, relationships, entrepreneurship and empowering women, according to her website.

Following graduation from Grady, Adams immediately entered the communications industry. Her work took her from Atlanta to Nashville, where she currently lives with her family.

Adams launched Choice in 2014.

“We started out doing a whole lot of book publicity because that was my background, that’s what I knew, that’s what I was good at and what I love. And then we evolved and grew from there,” she said. “And we really do a lot of different kinds of communications services based on the need of the client. Publicity and media relations is certainly our bread and butter.”

While Adams has seen her company grow in the past seven years, she says she has been able to further refine her skills. In 2019, Adams said she realized that podcasting was coming into the conversation and she wanted to advise her clients on how to take advantage of the up-and-coming medium. While she could tell it was something worth looking into, Adams was relatively unfamiliar with it.

Adams said she wanted to know the ins-and-outs of podcasting, so she decided to start her own.

“When you’re a communications expert, and there’s a format that’s really permeating the culture, you want to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse of it, so it was for us to know the ins and outs of everything connected to a podcast,” she said. “It sets us up as the experts in our industry.”

Adams said creating a podcast would help her clients realize that Choice employees knew what they were talking about when it came to best practices and the inner-workings of podcasting. Additionally, she describes it as a “business development tool and lead generator” that brings clients to Choice who many not have heard about the company before listening to the podcast. 

Before long, Adams and her team had created a podcast called This Intentional Life in June 2020. After reflecting on the podcast, it’s successes and it’s areas for improvement, Adams decided to revamp it. 

“People liked it and they enjoyed the content and we had great engagement and they loved the guests that we had and they thought we were fun and all of that, but it wasn’t ultimately serving the purpose that we had created it for,” Adams said. 

Now a year later, the series is rebranded and has relaunched as Make Me Known. While the elements are similar to the original elements, the biggest difference is a specific core focus on four pillars: communications expertise, entrepreneurship, empowering women and leadership, and relationships. 

Adams says this key focus is based on Choice’s ideal client: a busy, ambitious, working woman who juggles a successful work life with her personal relationships. 

“What we’re trying to do is equip her with the tools that she needs to go and be successful in work and in life and the dynamics of the two, but growing her business and her career, while managing the strong quality of life that she desires at home,” Adams said. “And so we develop all of the content through one of those four pillars with that ideal woman in mind of who we want listening to Make Me Known so that we are deliberately and intentionally serving her.”

Through this podcast, Adams says she’s successfully become an expert in the medium. From learning how to interview to going after and securing guests to creating, producing and taping episodes, she’s seen it all. 

“We intend fully to grow and enhance our offerings as the podcast grows and continues to evolve, and it being just one format and avenue or channel with which we’re trying to serve the women that are our ideal client choice.”

Listen to Make Me Known on Apple Podcasts.

‘The Lead’ podcast wins first place in SPJ Regional Awards

The Society of Professional Journalists recognized Grady’s The Lead Podcast and its host Charlotte Norsworthy as among the best of collegiate journalism for Region 3 in 2019.

The Lead podcast received first place in the Mark of Excellence Awards competition for the region, which comprises student journalists from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. First-place winners will compete at the national level among other winners from the 12 SPJ regions.

“It’s been such a rewarding experience to take The Lead podcast to new heights over the past two years as host,” Norsworthy said. “I am so grateful to have grown as a journalist alongside the podcast.”

The Grady College’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership produces the podcast. It debuted in the Fall 2016 semester with Daniel Funke as its original student host for the first two semester-length seasons. Nate Bramel and Noelle Lashley took over hosting responsibilities for seasons three and four and Norsworthy led seasons five, six and seven, and continues as its current host.

Guests on The Lead have included Pulitzer Prize winners Alex Jones and Nick Chiles, Peabody Award winners Bob Sullivan and Randy Travis, local television news legend Monica Kaufman-Pearson and renowned journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. They are among the dozens of guests who have share valuable advice with Grady’s journalism students who are the podcast’s target audience. 

“We created The Lead podcast to provide another platform for engaging with the many exceptional guests who visit Grady,” said Keith Herndon, the Cox Institute’s director. “This award, however, reflects how Charlotte Norsworthy has used the podcast to demonstrate and showcase excellent journalistic interviewing techniques.”

Norsworthy will be completing her master’s degree in the fall semester and is moving into the producer’s chair for the Fall 2020 season, which means the Cox Institute is searching for its next student host.  Applications for the position are open through April 10 on UGA’s Handshake. 

The SPJ also recognized the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper The Red & Black as the region’s best all around non-daily newspaper, and one of its reporters, Grady student Anila Yoganathan, won first place in general news reporting for a series on diversity at the university. 

Don Sylvester reflects on winning Oscar for sound editing

Don Sylvester (ABJ ’75) recently won the Oscar for sound editing on “Ford v Ferrari.” He joined Dayne Young and Jay Hamilton, Grady’s entertainment and media studies department head, on “Grady College Conversations” to discuss the intricacies of film sound editing, the awards season for “Ford v Ferrari” and his time as a student at Grady College.

Learn more about Grady Podcasts here. Subscribe to our Apple Podcast feed. Listen to us on Spotify. 

Grady: What was the awards season experience like for you?

Don Sylvester: “This is my first go at it. I knew there was an awards season from a spectator’s standpoint. I was never involved in this cottage industry where it is hundreds of people and dozens of awards. It is all kinds of effort put into promoting films. They put me on this gig. It was a part time job for me. Now that it is over, I have some extra time. I’m not working until 11 o’clock every night.”

Grady: How did you end up at Grady College?

Don Sylvester: “I grew up in Atlanta. There was never any doubt that I would end up in Athens. My sister went before me. It was the only school I applied to. I thought I would be in television news and that is where my focus was while I was in school. I did do that for a while. I worked at WAGA for a while. As I grew and became more aware of the world, I migrated toward music. That led me to film. I’ve been doing film for about 30 years or so.”

Grady: How did you make the transition from music to film?

Don Sylvester: “I met my bride who was a film editor. I was working in the music business at the time. She said: “you have a good ear; you could probably be a dialogue editor or a sound effects editor.” I knew I had a good ear.”

 Grady: Did “Ford v Ferrari” stand out to you among other projects while you were making it?

Don Sylvester: “This one was special from the beginning. You get challenged every day in different ways. We always wake up and say that we are going to make a great movie today. Nobody gets up says we are going to make a stinker. You try your hardest with everything. This was special. It had an element to it. Everybody I knew was interested to talk about it. This is at the very beginning before we were showing it to people. I had people who I had not heard from in years call me wondering how it was going. They would say it was a great idea and they could not wait to see the film. The idea of the film clicked before people saw it. They wanted to see it.”

Sylvester accepts his Oscar from the Academy. (photo: Academy Awards)

Grady: How did you approach sound design going into this film?

Don Sylvester: “In the very beginning, they needed engine sound because the cars they were shooting were not race cars. They were picture cars. They were made for the film. They had different kinds of engines that made them reliable, but not necessarily fast. They were not race car engines. Part of my design idea was to focus on the fact that this is a real car. This is not a Chevy kit. It is a real GT40, a car from 1966. We had to locate the real deal. Anybody that knows anything about cars knows that each car has its own personality and flavor. If you try to fake it, and we did for a long time in the cutting of it, you can tell. It just didn’t make sense. It didn’t seem right. It had to be the real deal. Once we got the real car and recorded it, it changed everything. The whole demeanor of the film changed. The car was a real player. It was a character.”

Grady: When you are listening to the same sound regularly for months, how do you keep your ear trained to recognize what belongs and what doesn’t?

Don Sylvester: “If it fits, it becomes the sound. It is very important to get the right sound early in the process so it becomes the sound. What I mean by that is that if you have got a race car and you put in a Volkswagen Bug, it doesn’t look or sound like a race car anymore. The moment you put in the real sound and it connects with the picture, it becomes the sound. You suspend your disbelief and think that is the real sound. You forget it was added. The goal is to make it second nature like it has always been there.”

Grady: What should students who aspire to be involved in film production be doing right now?

Don Sylvester: “They should be making films. It is so easy right now to make an independent film. You can do it with your phone. They should be learning the craft of putting things together to tell a story. They should learn storytelling abilities. Learn to write, learn to edit, learn to get out into the real world and see what it looks like when you put a camera on it.”

Grady College Conversations podcast: Nick Glickman

Please subscribe to the Grady College Conversations podcast.

You can find us on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and PodbeanLearn more about all Grady College affiliated podcasts here. This episode features Nick Glickman (ABJ ’16) of Zirkonzahn USA.

Glickman is a young alumnus of Grady College who uses his public relations degree to manage communications in an in-house setting. He talks about how skills learned at Grady translate to his current role and why he comes back to recruit students to Zirkonzahn. We asked him what advice he gives to students who are on the job hunt.

“Being physically present – that leaves a much greater impression than a name on a sheet of paper.” Glickman said. “I’m a talker, so that is a feather in my cap. If you’re not, then follow your passions. If your passion is animation, then create a website with all of your animations. Create a portfolio. Just go all in to this.”

Glickman is a regular attendee to the Grady College Career Day and AdPR Connection where he meets with students and informs them about his journey to employment.

Cox Institute debuts new podcast featuring industry professionals

Students at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication now have a new way to learn from people who have made it in the media industry: The Lead.

Daniel Funke, a fall 2016 Innovation Fellow with the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership, produced the first six podcasts of The Lead to tap into the insights of seasoned journalists, editors, professors and executives.

“Oftentimes, notable media figures come to campus to give talks at Grady and elsewhere, and a lot of students aren’t able to attend because of class. Additionally, not every student can go on trips to journalism conferences around the country,” Funke, a senior journalism major, said. “By interviewing these people on The Lead, I hope to bring their perspectives and experience to the fingertips of every student.”

The guest on Season 1 of The Lead include Grady College dean Charles Davis, professor Barry Hollander, National Press Photographers Association director Akili-Casundria Ramsess, and media professionals Steve Oney, Alex Jones, Alex Laughlin and Julie Westfall.

“Essentially, I try to pick people that I think all students would be interested in and that have unique and interesting viewpoints on journalism,” Funke said. “In the first season, we ran the gamut from journalism education and modern photojournalism to maintaining side hustles and learning from the 2016 election. Each guest has one thing in common — their successful careers in journalism and their specialization in an important area of the field.”

In listening to the podcast, Funke wants students to understand the ever-evolving nature of journalism.

“In order to preserve the industry, we should be asking the most talented folks about how their experiences have affected their work,” he said. “At the very least, I hope students and others in the journalism industry listen to The Lead and learn something new about their profession.”

Season 2 of the Lead will be produced during spring with Funke adding new episodes throughout the semester.