Podcast: Exploring Grady’s new Certificate in News Literacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything you want to add to that process?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Norsworthy: Thanks for having us. 

Keith Herndon: Yeah. Thanks a lot.

Murrow Fellows discuss misinformation during visit with Cox International Center

Conversations about the effect of 24-hour news, social media and misinformation during elections around the world were a few of the topics discussed when 17 international journalists visited Grady College on Nov. 9, 2022.

The group was part of the Murrow Fellow program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Poynter and hosted for the day by the Cox International Center. The Murrow Fellows program invited journalists to the United States from around the world including Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, just to name a few. The journalists are selected to tour the U.S. and learn about journalistic practices over a three-week period. The journalists were selected by embassies in their home countries.

“This Fellowship is one of the most prestigious media programs funded by the Department of State and we are honored by again be selected to work with these visitors, who are very senior journalists in their home countries,” said Tudor Vlad, executive director of the Cox International Center.

Several former heads of state, including Tony Blair, have been Murrow Fellows in the past.

The international journalists heard from Dean Charles Davis, Jonathan Peters who spoke about media law and Amanda Bright who talked about fact-checking tools used in the United States. All of the discussions focused on this year’s theme, “Media Responsibility in an Age of Disinformation for the Indo-Pacific.”

Tudor Vlad listens to an international journalist during the panel discussion.
Tudor Vlad listens to an international journalist during the panel discussion.

The journalists participated in a panel discussion with students and members of the Communication and Media Fellows Program (formerly the Business and Public Communication Fellows Program), talking about media in their own countries and how disinformation is handled.

Several panelists discussed topics like reporting in collaboration with journalists in other countries since they can’t cover certain topics in their own country. Panelists also talked about the amount of misinformation that is spread during elections in their home country and commented that they were eager to see how elections are treated in the United States.

“It was fun to see cheering and dancing related to the elections yesterday,” commented Nyamdari Baigalmaa, a journalist working with Mongol Content from Mongolia, about the celebrations at campaign headquarters.

There was also a discussion about the effect of 24-hour news channels which the United States has but many of the countries represented in the program do not have.

Lucy Cormack, a state political reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Australia wondered if some of the misinformation in the U.S. comes from the need to fill a 24-hour news vacuum.

“I am acutely aware of the media freedoms you enjoy,” Cormack said, “but there is such a need to feed this hungry beast 24 hours a day and that need might spawn misinformation.”

She added that she is not sure if errors are intentional in some 24-hour operations or if it’s because they are understaffed, but she noted it’s always better to wait to report a story and be second, than to be wrong.

“It’s so important to confirm stories and be right,” Cormack emphasized.

A question about the role of social media in journalism was asked to the visiting journalists. Although some journalists use social media channels like What’s App or Signal, most have not advanced that far due to security issues with different platforms.

Vlad wrapped up the panel discussion commenting on what he learns from these discussions.

“I always feel like I am cheating because I learn more than I offer,” Vlad said.

Murrow Fellows pose with a group from the Communication and Media Fellows (formerly the BPC Fellows)
Seventeen Murrow Fellows visited Grady College and were hosted by the Cox International Center Nov. 9, 2022. The Murrow Fellows were joined by the Communication and Media Fellows (formerly the BPC Fellows)

For more pictures of the visit with the Murrow Fellows, please see the Murrow Fellows Flickr album.

 

AdPR Academy renamed, revamped after gift from Myra Blackmon

Quote card that reads " “For communications professionals to be truly effective, they have to reflect their varied audiences. A visceral understanding of our diverse audiences requires constant commitment. I am proud to be able to support such an effort through the college that has been such an important part of my life since 1969!”AdPR Academy of Grady College’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations has changed its name to the Myra Blackmon AdPR Academy for Diversity and Inclusion.

The six-year-old educational outreach program is designed to amplify the power of diversity, equity and inclusion while growing the pipeline of diverse advertising and public relations professionals. This year’s Academy will happen in Atlanta from Nov. 9-13. 

Myra Blackmon (ABJ ’72, M.Ed ’08) has enjoyed a long and varied career in industry and nonprofit organizations. For many years, she owned M. Blackmon Public Relations in Athens, serving a diverse clientele in finance, food products, health care, public affairs and fundraising. She and her husband, the late Dr. Thomas P. Holland, consulted internationally on management and governance of nonprofit organizations. Blackmon also taught public relations courses in Grady College’s AdPR Department for several years. 

“For communications professionals to be truly effective, they have to reflect their varied audiences,” said Blackmon. “A visceral understanding of our diverse audiences requires constant commitment. I am proud to be able to support such an effort through the college that has been such an important part of my life since 1969!”

Students in the Academy receive over 35 hours of training and mentoring by experts working in the advertising and public relations industries, participate in daily networking opportunities with corporate executives and agency professionals, and compete in teams representing real-life clients for cash prizes. 

“We truly appreciate Myra’s generosity,” said Dr. Juan Meng, Head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “Her commitment in advancing diversity and inclusion plays a huge role in supporting the success of this program.” 

This year, Grady College invited partner institutions Albany State University, Clemson University, Georgia State University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Kennesaw State University, Tuskegee University and the University of South Carolina to hand-select cohorts of their own students to participate in the program. Interested students not attending one of the partner institutions were invited to apply directly.

Myra Blackmon teaching a class at Grady College.
Myra Blackmon teaching at Grady College. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

“It’s really about creating and amplifying the importance of diversity and building a pipeline with a particular focus on students of color,” said DeShele Taylor, Director of the Myra Blackmon AdPR Academy for Diversity and Inclusion. “We’ve really seen a nice rippling effect of the benefits of this program. Everyone who has gone through this program has said that they feel they have a clear pathway forward.”

 Over its history, the program has graduated 99 students from 21 U.S. colleges and universities. Many of the program’s alumni have stayed in the fields of advertising and public relations, working for agencies, corporations or nonprofits. Several have gone on to pursue advanced degrees before launching their careers. 

In years past, the AdPR Academy happened in the spring. This year, however, the program will run in the fall, giving students the opportunity to put the experience on their resumes before submitting applications to competitive summer internships and jobs.

“The Department of Modern Languages, Communication, and Philosophy at Tuskegee University is excited to have our Communication majors as part of AdPR Academy,” said Dr. Adaku T. Ankumah, chair of the aforementioned department. “The goal of advancing diversity is in line with the University’s mission of being a center of diversity and its strategic goals for the next five years. In addition, we seek strategic partnerships that will provide our students with hands-on experiences, so they are ready for the job market. We look forward to the opportunities that will open for them from this collaboration.”

Mira Lowe, Dean of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communications at Florida A&M University, added: “We are excited to work with AdPR Academy at the University of Georgia in helping to close the diversity gap in the advertising and public relations industries. Our partnership will open new doors to our PR students seeking career opportunities and connections in various professional networks. This collaboration with UGA enables us to expand the professional development of our students in a consequential way.”

Podcast: How Grady College will approach being one of nation’s first solutions journalism hubs

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At the beginning of August, the Solutions Journalism Network named Grady College one of the nation’s first solutions journalism hubs, a designation given to only three other colleges in the United States. In this role, Grady College’s Department of Journalism will be tasked with continuing to serve as an incubator for creativity, innovation and research in solutions journalism and function as a resource for students and professionals in the region who are interested in the field.

To further unpack what this designation means, solutions journalism experts Dr. Amanda Bright, director of the Cox Institute Journalism Innovation Lab, Dr. Kyser Lough, an assistant professor in Journalism, and Ralitsa Vassileva, a lecturer in Journalism, were recently interviewed as a part of Grady College’s Grady Research Radio podcast

Below is a transcription of the podcast, edited for clarity and brevity. 

Grady College: What is solutions journalism, and why is there a need for it? A quote from Kyser Lough about the definition of solutions journalism.

Kyser Lough: Well, solutions journalism is a method of reporting where the reporter goes out and, instead of just reporting on the problems communities are facing, they also look for what people are doing about it. 

It’s not advocacy. It’s not opinion journalism. The journalist is not creating the solution. They are simply using their same set of journalistic skills and tools to go out and report on what’s being done in response to a problem. 

It was kind of born out of this idea that we sometimes focus too much on problems. I mean, it’s good. We have to uncover and thoroughly define the problems a community is facing. That’s a very important purpose of journalism. But if we only focus on that, then all we’re showing our readers is that, you know, it’s just doom and gloom all the time, and we know that’s not true. We know there are people out there trying to address these problems. So why aren’t we reporting on that, too?

A lot of people just call it just good journalism. I think putting a name on it was important to help really define what it is, but at the end of the day, it’s something a lot of journalists have been doing. It’s just that we feel a lot of folks haven’t been doing it enough.

Grady College: Amanda Bright explained that solutions journalism entered the curricula at the college roughly four years ago as a very small piece of the capstone undergraduate reporting classes in journalism. Since then, though, solutions journalism has become a part of every undergraduate capstone class. At this point, every journalism student at Grady College leaves with knowledge in some practical application of solutions journalism. 

Many student-made solutions journalism pieces are available online at Gradynewsource.uga.edu. While looking through some of those pieces, I noticed that they are far from your standard text-based news stories. The students who make the pieces often weave in both audio and visual components. So, I asked Ralitsa Vassileva about teaching multimedia solutions journalism storytelling in her classes. 

Four students and two faculty pose for a picture in Utah in front of a grove of trees with a mountain in the background.
Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva (second from right) took a small group of students to the Journalism Solutions Summit in Utah.

Ralitsa Vassileva: In my sustainability multiplatform class, I required students to use four different media platforms to tell (a solutions journalism story) besides text. It could be video. It could be audio. It could be graphics. Whatever the story requires. While for my broadcast students, I challenge them at the end of the semester to produce short videos of a solution story, again, sticking to those principles of solutions journalism for rigorous reporting, which is not easy in a minute and a half to two minutes. But with the growing importance of short videos, this is a very effective way to reach audiences.

Grady College: What does this designation, being named a solutions journalism hub, mean? 

Amanda Bright: You know, we’re still trying to figure some of that out. Our four hub schools, we’ve had lots of conversations already about what that’s going to look like on each of our university campuses and what it’s gonna look like in our regions, because we’re really representing the Southeast. 

I think a lot of that is coming to fruition as it develops, but our goal is to be a place of teaching, training, learning and resource for our geographic area. We have several faculty members who are passionate about this. We have been practicing it for a while now, so we’ve learned some things. 

We want to bring in students who want to do this kind of work, researchers who want to do this kind of work, and industry partners and news organizations that want to do this and try to marshal those resources to grow what solutions journalism is and what it means for communities.

Grady College: What does this designation mean in terms of advancing solutions journalism research? What opportunities are there for collaboration with students and professional journalists in the region who are interested in this research? 

Kyser Lough: For me, the designation means a lot when it comes to research, because it further legitimizes what we’re doing here.

It can be difficult, as a scholar, to reach out to journalists and ask them, “Hey, can I interview you and (confidentially) ask you, you know, some of these complicated questions about the work you do.” Even just getting a response can be difficult. 

Or, if we want to partner with a newsroom, sometimes it’s not enough just to be somebody at the University of Georgia. They’re skeptical about what participating in this research means. Being able to come at it from, you know, “We’re from the solutions journalism hub. This is what we study. This is what we do,” I think that’s going to add a lot of oomf in our research and any grant applications that we’re doing. It’s important just in getting the visibility out there that this is a legitimate site of study. We’re a place where people who have questions can come to. If they are an editor of a newsroom and they want to know if this is having any impact, they can come to us and we can look at surveys, focus groups and other ways to assess what’s going on in their newsroom when it comes to solutions journalism and the audience.

I have several studies that I’m currently working on that I’m always excited to have other people come on board with. I’m also excited to have people come pitch an idea, and we’ll talk about the potential. 

Students who are interested can come to our Master’s program or our PhD program, and they can incorporate that into their studies. We can talk about independent study. We could also work that into their actual program of work for their thesis or dissertation. 

There are so many different ways you can take this and apply it, especially to different reporting topics, which is another thing that we’ve been hoping to expand on in the research. How does this play out in health reporting? How does this play out in education reporting, where you’re constantly hearing that either a school has super high scores or super low scores. We never really hear about what schools are doing to try and address those issues.

There’s lots of different topics we can apply it to. Somebody doesn’t have to come here and be a solutions scholar. They can come here being very interested in political coverage. As part of that, we look at solutions journalism and how that can apply to that specific topic.

Grady College: The experts included in this interview want to hear from you, the current and future students, educators and industry professionals in the region. Their contact information is listed below.

Amanda Bright: Amanda.Bright@uga.edu

Kyser Lough: KyserL@uga.edu

Ralitsa Vassileva: Ralitsa.Vassileva@uga.edu

Stepping Stones UGA app traces history-making paths of UGA desegregation

Following the steps that Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton Holmes took leading to the UGA Admissions Building…the terrifying night of riots at Myers Hall…and the refuge of the Killian House, are just a few of the scenes brought to reality through a new augmented reality iPhone app developed by a team of New Media Institute (NMI) students.

Stepping Stones UGA provides a tour of a few of the most significant scenes on campus and in Athens when Hunter-Gault and Holmes desegregated the university by enrolling as students in 1961. The app provides AR recreations of the way campus buildings and other Athens-area scenes looked in the early 1960s, along with maps of key sites and news clips of Hunter-Gault and Holmes stepping onto campus for the first time. The app can be used with geo-location while users interact with the app as they walk those same areas on campus, or it can be used remotely to understand UGA history.

Click above to view the Stepping Stones UGA app in action at The Arch.

The app was the vision of the Black Faculty and Staff Organization (BFSO) of UGA, which helped direct and partially fund the project. When Charles Davis, dean of Grady College heard about the project, he contributed some funds and introduced the organization to John Weatherford, NMI faculty and director of the NMI’s undergraduate capstone program.

“Because campus has changed and buildings have been renamed, we wanted to have a walking tour for historical purposes for the community,” said Susan Williams, current BFSO secretary and interim assistant dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center. “That way when folks come to campus, that would be an option to learn more about UGA.”

Weatherford knew this vision would be a great capstone project, especially since a similar app had been developed in prior years, but the technology advances had advanced so quickly that an even richer experience would now be possible.

The group started working with Maurice Daniels, dean emeritus at the School of Social Work, and co-founder and director of The Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies. Daniels helped research key stops to be included in the app like the UGA Arch, where Holmes and Hunter-Gault arrived on campus; what is now the Holmes-Hunter Building where they registered for classes; the Killian House where Holmes lived during his studies; Myers Hall, where Hunter-Gault lived; and the Athens Courthouse, where the lawsuit was filed approving Holmes and Hunter-Gault as students.

“Projects like this are very much at the heart of what NMI is all about,” Weatherford said. “We focus on applied real-world experiences that allow students to engage with and be more informed about the world around them. We always aim for experiential opportunities, but when we are able to add the additional layer of learning more about our institution, that elevates the students’ learning opportunity to a different level.”

Although the Stepping Stones UGA app is not part of his capstone project, a graduate student in the NMI’s Emerging Media masters program, Ryan Fernandez, stepped forward to help. Fernandez is co-founder of Alpha Design Studio, an Athens-based firm specializing in architectural 3D renderings, animation and virtual reality. He was able to study old pictures that were available, take measurements and create the scale replicas of the landmarks as accurately as possible.

In the case of the Killian House, a private residence that was torn down years ago, Fernandez only had two partial pictures of the house and had to create approximate renderings based on nearby homes of a similar architectural style.

“Recreating buildings with minimal information are things I do all the time,” Fernandez said. “The photos don’t show the detail very well, and without plans, recreating what I thought was going on is about the only way to do it.”

Chelsey Perry (AB ‘21) was one of the students who worked on the project. Perry had been on the team that produced a documentary by Grady College commemorating the 60th anniversary of Desegregation.

“As a black student at UGA it felt nice to know that the University was devoting resources to creating an app like this,” said Perry. “I had previously interviewed Charlayne Hunter-Gault as well as other notable Black UGA graduates for UGA’s 60th anniversary of Desegregation documentary, so it was wonderful synchronicity to be working on this project at the same time.”

In addition to Perry, other NMI students involved with the project included Meghan Dougherty, Alex English, Bristol King and Frank Wu.

The Stepping Stones UGA app is available for iPhone users and can be downloaded from the App Store.

Williams concluded by saying she believes there are a lot of people who work on campus, let alone visitors to campus, who don’t know details about this pivotal time in the university’s history.

“Maybe the app will show them that where they walk every day on campus has historical significance,” Williams said.

Jooyoung Kim named director of Cox International Center

Jooyoung Kim, the Dan Magill Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Sports Communication, has been named director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research.

Tudor Vlad, the current Cox International Center director, will assume a new role as executive director. Vlad has led dozens of international training missions and welcomed hundreds of visiting journalists from around the world to UGA over many years of service to the college.

“Dr. Kim brings a highly successful international program, the Business and Public Communication Fellows Program, under the Cox International Center, marshalling the college’s international training center and its resources,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “I’m excited to see the Cox Center continue enriching media operations around the world through its training and international research.”

Kim is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Cox Center and continue its mission.

“Through interdisciplinary collaborations with Grady faculty and other excellent units at UGA as well as external experts and organizations worldwide, I hope to continue to build the Cox Center as a global hub for mass communication knowledge production and training,” Kim said.

Kim is the founder and director the Business and Public Communication Fellows Program, a program inviting experienced communication professionals from different countries to study for one year at Grady College. The program, founded in 2010, operates in conjunction with the Cox International Center and has graduated more than 100 students.

“Now under the Cox International Center, the program will flourish even more by attracting international scholars in a wide range of disciplines related to mass communication,” Kim said.

Kim is a professor of advertising and specializes in research on the roles of advertising in branding context and perception. His research also examines advertising and brand communication in the sports context. Kim also directs the Advertising and Branding Insights Studio at UGA to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations that focus on research-driven insights in advertising and branding using various scientific approaches. Kim serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Interactive Advertising and was secretary last year of the American Academy of Advertising, an organization dedicated to advertising science and research. He is the co-founder and current vice president of the Korean American Faculty Association at UGA, an organization committed to increasing the visibility of its members and mentoring the Korean and Korean American students on campus.

The James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research began operations in 1985 and is dedicated to conducting media training programs involving countries all over the world, and conducting and publishing research reports on a variety of topics related to the practice of journalism around the world.

Among the activities in the past year that the Cox Center has directed are the development of a series of civic and media management courses for the African Civic Engagement Academy and hosting a group of 21 journalists from the country Georgia for training in digital media.

The Cox Center is named for the late James M. Cox, Jr., chairman of the board of Cox Enterprises and a major figure in the communications industry in the United States in the twentieth century.


Editor’s Note: For more information, please read this April 2022 profile about Jooyoung Kim. 

 

NMI students build brand to support local Georgia seafood

Eating your way through local seafood cuisine along the Georgia coast may sound like a dream come true, but for a group of Grady College students, it was another day working on a class project.

The five students are in this semester’s New Media capstone class, which challenges students to build new media solutions that address specific client problems, explore and implement emerging technologies, or both. Cierra Cordak, Hunter Lanius, Sam Perez, Tallie Pietragallo and Carson Reynolds are creating a brand to promote local seafood within the state.

The Georgia Seafood On My Mind Team traveled to the coast with professor John Weatherford. (Photo: Sam Perez)

Georgia Seafood On My Mind is for proprietors of unique coastal seafood restaurants to promote culinary adventures in Georgia. The idea developed from the What’s the Hook? seafood pitch competition led by UGA’s Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. The competition was designed to generate innovative ideas that support Georgia’s working waterfronts and seafood products. New Media Institute Professor John Weatherford and Terry College’s Director of Entrepreneurship Bob Pinckney‘s concept won.

Along with the Weatherford and the NMI’s Chris Gerlach, the team traveled to six coastal counties to curate content that will be distributed across the brand’s social media platforms. The pictures and videos will also be shared with the local restaurant owners featured for their own marketing and promotional use.

“There’s a sense that we’re not just highlighting Georgia businesses, but Georgia people and communities,” fourth year marketing major Hunter Lanius said. “It’s a lot more sentimental than what you might expect from a food and travel-promoting brand.”

The group took over 1,700 photos and 600 videos over the course of three days including pictures of the food, restaurant interiors and exteriors, drone shots and interview segments.

Leading up to the trip, the team spent time developing a brand. They created social media accounts, designed a logo, strategized about branding guidelines, conducted user research and began connecting with local seafood restaurants in the coastal region.

Applying classroom lessons beyond NMI

Tallie Pietragallo serves as her group’s Client Relations lead. (Photo: John Weatherford)

Fourth year advertising major Tallie Pietragallo utilized skills she has learned in other classes and throughout internships to develop relationships with clients before the group embarked on the trip. For her, the client-racing role was “a really rewarding and exciting experience.”

“I kept in touch with the owners of six local restaurants across the coast of Georgia and learned more about their stories and the connection they have to the local community,” Pietragallo said. “Being in Grady helped make the connection from the owners stories to their restaurant and brand and lead to brand storytelling though our social accounts.”

Third year advertising major Cierra Cordak is the Project Lead and is heading up the team’s website development.

“Getting to take what I’ve learned in a classroom and use it to create something that looks like websites I actually visit, and not just another project, that will be live online for people to discover and use has been so exciting,” she said. “It has definitely developed my skills in that area beyond what they were before working on Georgia Seafood On My Mind.”

The team started in Camden County at Captain Seagle’s Restaurant and Saloon. They toured the attached hotel Riverview Hotel, which was built in 1916. Seagle’s is the oldest continually operating restaurant and bar in St. Mary’s, and the team got a chance to sit down with server Neal Schroeder to learn about the restaurant’s recipe for success.

“It’s hard to beat when you get the food right off the boat,” he said. “You’re not getting some of that store-bought seafood from the freezer or that was prepared a long time ago.”

While they had developed a course of action ahead of time, the students got to learn on the spot and strategize how best to capture the content. Multiple members of the team took turns capturing pictures of the seafood while fourth year journalism major Carson Reynolds focused on videography.

The team captured both photos and videos to promote local Georgia seafood. (Photo: Sam Perez)

“It was super cool to work on this project from a video planning viewpoint, especially with the budget and the gear we were able to use. We had professional level gear like lights, reflectors, and microphones, which made shooting feel very easy while also being impressive and professional for the person being interviewed,” Reynolds said. “The multiple camera and sound setup was great to use and made editing really easy. Overall, from the video and editing side of things, this was one of the most planned-out and professionally shot projects I’ve ever worked on and taught me a lot about working with different equipment and editing from different sources.”

Next, the group headed to St. Simons Island where they visited Georgia Sea Grill.

On day two of their adventure, the students drove to The Fish Dock in Townsend, Georgia.

Sunbury Crab Company catches crabs fresh from the water outside the restaurant each day. (Photo: John Weatherford)

Next up on the itinerary was Sunbury Crab Company in Liberty County. The team tried their hand at cracking open blue steamed crabs and heard from co-owner Elaine Maley who touted the freshness of the restaurant’s all-natural ingredients.

“We get the shrimp, they’re local, and they’re never been dipped, so they don’t have chemicals on them,” she said. “A lot of people that say they usually couldn’t eat shrimp can eat ours. We gather our own oysters and we have have our own crab lines.”

For the final leg on their second day, the team drove to Fish Tales at Fort McAllister Marina in Bryan County.

Collin Russell started as general manager at the restaurant just a few months ago. In his time there, he’s seen how the local community rallies around Fish Tales. In fact, he says he sees most of the guests “anywhere from four to seven times a week.” What keeps them coming back? According to Russell, it’s all about the seafood caught just a few feet away.

“I mean, it’s just a fresh taste,” he said. “A lot of our customers and stuff will tell you the difference between our seafood and you know, seafood that’s north and south of here, is that the shrimp – you can taste how fresh it is. I mean that is always what people say about here:  how sweet our Georgia shrimp is and that’s what we love bringing it to people.”

Just one of the dishes the team got to try while on their trip. (Photo: Sam Perez)

To conclude their three-day trip, the students stopped in Savannah where they met up with Robyn Quattlebaum, the proprietor of Driftaway Cafe before heading back to Athens.

Preparing for SLAM

Now, the team is combing through the content, editing pictures and videos, communicating with the restaurant owners to deliver the material and fine-tuning the brand’s social media. All of this preparation comes ahead of SLAM, an end-of-semester showcase that celebrates student projects and certificate recipients. On May 7, industry guests and NMI alumni from near and far will attend the day of showcasing, networking, reminiscing and interviewing job-seeking certificate students.

Editor’s Note: This feature was written by Sam Perez, a 2022 Yarbrough Fellow in the Grady College Department of Communication and member of the Georgia Seafood On My Mind team.

2021 in Review: Service & Partnerships

Editor’s Note: This is part of our  five-part series highlighting stories produced by Grady College in 2021. The features includes three stories in each of the following subjects:
  • Student Successes
  • Faculty Honors
  • College Headlines
  • Research & Grants
  • Service & Partnerships
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but instead highlight a sample of just a few of the more than 210 stories about accomplishments by our students, faculty/staff and alumni.
We invite you to visit our Grady College News page for a full list of features posted in 2021. 

Concluding our Year in Review is a look at the incredible community partners we have connected with this year. Community service and outreach is a pillar of our education and we are delighted to help so many in our community through news coverage of Northeast Georgia through Grady NewSource reporting, helping business message and market themselves through TalkingDog Agency and campaigns classes and providing our skills through these new partners:

Kaiser Health News Southern Bureau: The Health and Medical Journalism graduate program at Grady College joined forces with Kaiser Health News on a new initiative this fall to boost health care coverage in the south. Kaiser Health News received $2.3 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the creation of a Southern Bureau, and our students will be provided experiential learning opportunities like assistantships and fellowships, real-time feedback on stories and assignments and the chance to publish in a national newsroom. The goal of the new bureau is to produce more journalism focusing on health, race, equity and poverty in the region.

Bitter Southerner: In August we announced that we were forming a partnership with the Bitter Southerner, one of the most well-respected narrative journalism platforms in the southeast. In this pairing to promote great storytelling, Bitter Southerner editorial staff will enroll in our low-residency MFA program in Narrative Nonfiction, while undergraduate students will team with Bitter Southerner staff on podcast productions and exclusive internships. Stories from MFA students will be shared in online and print editions of The Bitter Southerner. Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at Grady College, directs the MFA Narrative Nonfiction program and serves as a senior consulting editor at The Bitter Southerner.

The Oglethorpe Echo: When alumnus Dink NeSmith (ABJ ’70) heard the community newspaper was closing its doors, he jumped into action. His first call was to Dean Charles Davis to see if he could help. A few weeks later, a new non-profit organization, The Oglethorpe Echo Legacy Inc., was created and seven student journalists under the guidance of managing editor Andy Johnston, were covering the crime, sports, education and government beats. This new model of collaboration between community news organizations and journalism schools holds a lot of hope for preventing news desserts while providing valuable experience for students, according to write-ups about the program by media outlets like Poynter and Editor & Publisher.

Athena Studios donates space to Grady College, partners with Talking Dog

Athena Studios, a new $60 million sound stage development in Athens, Georgia, is set to have a huge impact not only on film production in Georgia but also on Grady College.

Specifically, the developer of Athena Studios, Reynolds Development, enlisted the help of Talking Dog Agency, a student-run advertising and public relations agency, to oversee its ground-breaking announcement and marketing efforts. A student-team handled all the announcement materials, media relations, graphics and photography when the studio broke ground on Nov. 16, 2021.

When the studio opens in 2022, it will also donate one of its studios for exclusive use to Grady students in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies for five years. The studio space will be a custom-built, 14,600-square-foot sound stage for film and television production. Features include a 28-foot ceiling and double-truck doors allowing for a vehicle as large as a semi-truck to deliver sets and equipment to the studio.

“When you talk about experiential learning, rarely do you gain access to a site that replicates the working environment of film and television professionals,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “This opens enormous possibilities for the Entertainment & Media Studies department, and we are grateful for this special opportunity given to our students by Athena Studios.”

The Athena Studios space will be used by undergraduate students and will complement the recent renovation of studio space on the first floor of Grady College designed for graduate students in the MFA in Film, Television and Digital Media program. The MFA students move their studies to Fayetteville, Georgia, and to Trilith and Georgia Film Academy studios during their second year of studies.

Having the accessibility from campus to a studio of this size will be a huge benefit to undergraduate students, as well as Georgia Film Academy, which is expected to use the space in partnership with Grady College.

Athena Studios is a partnership between Athens-based commercial real estate development and brokerage firm Reynolds Capital and local developer Tim Burgess.

Athens Studios Groundbreaking
Those breaking ground on the new Athena Studios project included (from left): Charles Davis, dean of Grady College; Lee Thomas (ABJ ’87), deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; John Raulet, vice president of Raulet Property Partners; Joel Harber, president of Reynolds Capital and CEO of Athena Studios; and Jeff Stepakoff, executive director of the Georgia Film Academy.

Once completed, the 45-acre campus located in Clarke County will feature more than 350,000 square feet of purpose-built space for film and television production providing multiple sound stages, support buildings, production offices and a state-of-the-art educational facility.

“Making sure we plan and deliver a best-in-class project has been a priority from the very beginning, and we are excited to be able to offer one of the best purpose-built soundstage campuses in Georgia utilizing the latest construction methods and technology,” said Joel Harber, president of Reynolds Capital and CEO of Athena Studios.

As a native Athenian and UGA alumnus with a successful track record in commercial real estate development, Harber wanted to help bring this industry to Athens, not just for one feature film but indefinitely.

“Watching such tremendous growth in the film industry in Georgia over the last eight years has been great, but we haven’t really seen productions filming in Athens. Not having a proper sound stage space has really kept our area from realizing its full potential,” Harber said. “By developing a first-class soundstage campus and providing educational space for the University of Georgia and the Georgia Film Academy, Athena Studios will not only help put Athens on the map for film and television production, but also help grow the talent ecosystem in Georgia in a great city near its flagship university.”

Often content is developed in Hollywood, filmed in Georgia, then shipped back to California for post-production work. Having both creators and the labor force required to produce content are key pieces of the puzzle.

“Athena Studios will not only provide a purpose-built film campus for productions to bring exciting new content to life, but it will also provide space to help educate and train the next generation of film professionals. Hopefully over time more components of the industry like development and post-production will grow in Georgia and Athens specifically making it more than just a great location to film,” Harber said.

Construction on the project started earlier this month and the first phase is scheduled for completion in November 2022.

Cox Institute launches 2nd year of Digital Natives Program

Digital Natives, part of the Cox Institute of Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership’s Journalism Innovation Lab, is launching its second year of bringing UGA journalism students with digital news expertise into Georgia newsrooms for one week to help local journalists accomplish specific digital goals.

For this 2022 cohort, the Georgia Press Education Foundation has joined forces with the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, thanks to a generous gift from Richard T. and Deborah H. Griffiths, to expand the impact to 15 media organization/student pairs.

The following is a list of students and newsrooms in the state of Georgia who will be served by this program this year:

  • Alex Anteau — The Oglethorpe Echo, Oglethorpe County
  • Lily Baldwin — The Hartwell Sun, Hartwell
  • Michael Banks — The Newnan Times-Herald, Newnan
  • Hunter Beasley — Rome Radio Partners, LLC, Rome
  • Haley Chambers — The Oconee Enterprise, Oconee County
  • Mikaela Cohen — The Northeast Georgian, Cornelia
  • Liset Cruz — WTOC, Savannah
  • Sarah Donehoo — The McDuffie Progress, Thomson
  • Carlie Gambino — No Walls TV, Tucker
  • Olivia Gauthier — WTOC, Savannah
  • Troyce Grant — The Post Searchligh, Bainbridge
  • Allyn Haynes — Cordele Newsmedia, LLC, Cordele
  • Laura Lenz — Jacobs Media Group (WDUN/WGGA/AccessWDUN.com), Gainesville
  • Erin Kenney — The Dallas New Era, Dallas
  • Breianna Smith — WRBL News 3, Columbus

The digital transition continues to be challenging for community journalism for reasons ranging from funding to time to expertise. Digital Natives will help bridge this gap by allowing digitally savvy journalism majors to research and prepare training for newsroom staffs regarding a variety of digital tasks like optimizing social media, creating digital content on various platforms, and experimenting with new technologies, as well as audience engagement, help with disinformation, and Trusting News concepts. Students will also benefit from learning from these organizations by spending a week in a working newsroom environment.

The program for 2021-2022 will run on site from Jan. 3-7, 2022, during the last week of UGA’s winter break. Georgia news organizations were chosen through an application process, and two organizations are returning from the 2021 program, which is one of the goals of this endeavor to build long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with Georgia news organizations. The students will receive $1,000 stipend for their preparation and weeklong training; food, travel and lodging will also be covered.

The director of Digital Natives, Dr. Amanda Bright, is also a faculty member at the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at UGA and will train the students before they start their week in the Georgia newsrooms.

“We were thrilled that we can be physically on site in the newsrooms for this second year of Digital Natives,” Bright said. “And, thanks to the generous support of Richard T. and Deborah H. Griffiths, we are nearly doubling the impact of the students’ digital knowledge for newspapers, radio stations and TV stations across the state of Georgia.”

For more information, contact: Dr. Amanda Bright, amanda.bright@uga.edu.