Campaigns class tackles DEI initiatives in the public relations industry

While many public relations campaigns classes focus on creating programs for corporate or non-profit clients, Dr. Karen Russell’s course this semester tackled a much larger topic: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the public relations industry.

“Like many people, I was pretty appalled at the responses I was seeing as the result of the social unrest last summer,” Russell explained. “I felt like public relations was part of the problem with inadequate responses from companies and celebrities.”

She knew as public relations professionals, they couldn’t sit back and do nothing, so she challenged her students to focus on changing structures to raise awareness and address solutions.

The students worked with dozens of PR professionals and organizations including the Diversity Action Alliance, PR Council, Institute for Public Relations, Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State, National Black Public Relations Society and the Museum of Public Relations.

During initial research, the students found that there is a general lack of knowledge about public relations among young diverse students, and those who were aware of the field found barriers to entry.

The PR Campaigns class worked to address these goals in their DEI project.

To address the issues, the students set out to tackle three goals:

  1. Establish DEI as a core value
  2. Foster a culture of allyship
  3. Increase industry accessibility

They produced videos, infographics, toolkits, a podcast and sponsored a webinar, Religion in Public Relations, with the Museum of Public Relations featuring a panel discussion on religion in PR.

“One of the most fulfilling parts of this course and campaign was the chance we were given to implement tactics that were not only of immediate importance, but which also may contribute to long-term impact and success in the industry,” said Eilis Sullivan, a fourth-year public relations and women’s studies student.  “Almost all of the resources we developed this semester are accessible online, so it’s rewarding to know there’s unlimited potential in the work we’ve done.”

Classmate Laura Burr, a fourth-year public relations student who is also studying fashion merchandising and Spanish, added that the impact is deeper than just recognizing the importance of hiring people from all backgrounds.

“Many only know about public relations because they have a family member in the industry, meaning industry members are a cycle of people from similar backgrounds,” Burr said. “Additionally, the PR industry hasn’t done a great job of offering paid internships, and unpaid internships are likely only a viable option for students from well-off families that can financially support them during their internship. There are changes that have to be made in and outside of the industry in order to create effective change.”

The students also hosted a panel discussion, ‘Moving the Needle: Making DEI a core value within PR’ panel, with the Diversity Action Alliance. During the session, panelist Krystle Cobran urged PR practitioners to change the narrative and reshape the way we deliver our messages, suggesting “stories stick, lectures don’t.”

Sullivan continued: “This campaign has helped me tremendously to better understand my responsibility as a PR practitioner, which is to tell stories that not only suit my clients, but which reflect and represent the larger world around me – including the uncomfortable or unspoken.”

The Diversity Conversation Toolkit, hosted on the PR Council’s website, provides ways to begin difficult conversations about diversity at work, while the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Toolkit provides background vocabulary, tactics for implementation and suggestions of media to learn more.

The students are grateful to the many industry professionals who helped them with the project, including Grady alumna Erica Holland Smith (ABJ ’10) who was working with the team when she died unexpectedly.

In addition to the accomplishments of the Campaigns class, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations co-sponsors the annual AdPR Academy, a week-long program for diverse students from HBCUs and other higher-education institutions to introduce them to the fields of advertising and public relations.

Digital Natives program to connect digitally-native students with Georgia newsrooms

The deadline for student applications has been extended to Nov. 8, 2020.

Grady College and the Georgia Press Education Foundation have joined forces for Grady Digital Natives, a new and innovative program that connects college students and Georgia news organizations. The online Grady Digital Natives program will connect UGA journalism students with digital news expertise with Georgia newsrooms to help local journalists accomplish specific digital goals.

The digital transition continues to be challenging for community journalism for reasons ranging from funding to time to expertise. Grady Digital Natives will help bridge this gap by allowing digitally savvy journalism majors to assist with a digital task like optimizing social media, creating digital content on various platforms or experimenting with new technologies. Another potential goal could help with audience engagement and Trusting News concepts.

“Through the Digital Natives program, these college students will bring their skills into our community newspapers to help advance the paper’s presence in the ever changing digital world,” GPA Executive Director Robin Rhodes said. “GPA is grateful for Dean Davis bringing forth this amazing program to our members.”

Due to COVID-19, students for 2020-2021 will not be on site at news organizations, but they will create and present a webinar that will introduce a digital tool or process to meet one targeted goal for the news organization. The webinar will move step-by-step through the philosophy, technology and process, and it will show how journalists in the newsroom can enhance as well as sustain this new opportunity. This will be accompanied with a written report and a follow-up Zoom conference to address any questions.

The program is expected to launch in January 2021.

Georgia news organizations will be chosen through an application process. Grady College and GPEF will provide a stipend for up to eight Grady College students to assist the local news sites.

The director of Grady Digital Natives, Amanda Bright, is a faculty member at Grady College and will train the students before they start their week within Georgia newsrooms.

“This program is going to be mutually beneficial for students and local newsrooms,” Bright said. “Whether it’s starting an email newsletter, diving into Facebook groups, telling stories through web-based interactives or creating a codified social media strategy, Georgia news organizations will tangibly benefit, while our students will gain the knowledge and experience from those doing the important work of journalism each day.”

Georgia news organizations interested in participating should apply by Nov. 1, 2020. Grady College journalism majors who want to apply to be Grady Digital Natives should apply by Nov. 1, 2020. For more information, contact Grady Digital Natives Director Amanda Bright (; 217-549-9821) or GPA Executive Director Robin Rhodes (; 770-454-6776).


Scripps Howard Foundation awards grant to fund Cox Institute’s reporting project

The Scripps Howard Foundation has awarded a grant to the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership for a poverty reporting initiative.

The grant of $7,500 will fund the Cox Institute’s plans to use reporting on poverty as the topic for its student projects in the Fall 2020 Journalism Innovation Lab.

“The coverage of poverty and underserved communities touches communities and news organizations across the country. This program can provide students with meaningful experiences, lead to excellent journalism, and serve as a model and resource,” said Dr. Battinto L. Batts Jr., the director of journalism strategies with the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute, explained the funding from the Scripps Howard Foundation provides a new path for continuing a Covering Poverty online initiative that began more than a decade ago.

The work to update content, create original new content and relaunch the Covering Poverty resources will be done by a team of six journalism students under the direction of Lori Johnston, a lecturer in the Department of Journalism.

“I look forward to this tremendous opportunity to engage motivated, creative and talented journalism students who will explore innovative multimedia approaches, newsgathering techniques and storytelling on a meaningful real-world project,” Johnston said. “With the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 election and social issues, there has never been a better time to equip journalists to report about underserved communities.”

The students will be selected for the Journalism Innovation Lab through faculty nominations early in the Fall semester. The selected students will receive Cox Innovation Fellowship scholarships for their participation in the program.

The original Covering Poverty project launched as a website in 2009. It was created with a grant awarded in 2008 by the University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, sponsored by the UGA Research Foundation. John Greenman, professor of journalism, emeritus, and Diane Murray, director of alumni relations and outreach, directed the program. Upon Greenman’s retirement in 2015, Murray continued to direct the program. Carolyn Crist (ABJ 09, MA ’14) started with the project as an undergraduate honors student and later was administrator of the website.

Since its inception, Covering Poverty provided reporting resources to more than 500 journalists annually who were covering poverty and related stories for news media organizations ranging from local newspapers to network television.

“We are very appreciative of the Scripps Howard Foundation for recognizing the importance of this resource and for providing the funds needed to continue it in a meaningful way,” Herndon said. “We are eager for our talented students under Lori Johnston’s leadership to once again provide this resource for our industry peers.”

Johnston also assisted the Cox Institute with the grant application process, which was led by Matt Pruitt, Associate Director of Foundation Relations in UGA’s Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations.

Fourth annual AdPR Academy connects diverse students from nine universities

Students from Albany State University, Clark Atlanta University, Clayton State University, Fort Valley State University, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, and the Universities of Georgia and South Carolina spent their spring breaks getting job ready.  The Department of Advertising and Public Relations in The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication held its fourth annual AdPR Academy from March 9-13 at Moxie in Atlanta, Georgia. The week-long certificate program included nearly 30 students, of all backgrounds, from these nine universities. The AdPR Academy program includes more than 35 hours of training from experts and professionals in the advertising and public relations industries, including skills-based classes, participation in a capstone project and daily networking sessions with corporate executives and agency professionals.

Grady College students participated in and served as organizational interns for AdPR Academy. (photo: Wesley Stanfield Photography)

“The 2020 cohort represents a significant achievement in both the number of participants and representation from five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” said Academy Director DeShele Taylor. “The Academy continues to carve meaningful pathways for diverse students to understand the potential of career opportunities in advertising and PR, and serves as a best in class model for similar initiatives.”

The annual program launched in 2016, to educate and link diverse students to opportunities in the advertising and public relations industries. Every year the program directors work hard to ensure inclusivity of all voices, ideas, and perspectives. By the end of the week, participants strengthened their industry knowledge, professional skills, network of professional contacts and were celebrated with a certificate of completion from Grady College.

“AdPR Academy was one of the best investments I’ve made in myself. It gave me the confidence I needed to become a game-changer in the industry and a sense of direction in where the industry can take me,” said Simone Amos, a communications major from Tuskegee University.

Each day students had the opportunity to participate in workshops and panels led by executives from both agencies and corporations. Representatives from organizations such as Porter Novelli, Nebo, Coca-Cola, 22Squared, Home Depot and other highly regarded organizations shared their professional journeys and advice. This gave students invaluable knowledge in the speakers’ fields of expertise and insight on how to be an intentional and empathic communicator. The students had their resumes reviewed by AdPR professionals and completed and analyzed a personal strengths assessment to inspire action plans for their career. The professional training served as a resource for students and a base of knowledge to create a real-world digital campaign for this year’s client, Georgia-Pacific.

On top of daily networking opportunities, the Academy also included a career night when students had the chance to have one-on-one conversations with various professionals. This set a space for these leaders to give guidance on how to not only maximize experiences but also students’ resumes and LinkedIn as marketing tools. Participants also were split into groups and dined with communications staffers from Porter Novelli, Home Depot, or Georgia Pacific. In the informal setting, students were able to be more personable with professionals and gain insight on what it’s really like to work in these fields.

The 2020 AdPR Academy major supporter and Academy founder was Moxie. This year’s other sponsors were PHD, Home Depot, Georgia Pacific and Creative Circus. Students or potential sponsors can learn more at


Bateman team changes course in competition to promote Census 2020

Editor’s Note: to complete the Census 2020 online, please visit

Census 2020 is just one of the many events that is in turmoil because of the coronavirus. Generating ideas that will help organizations out of this crisis is one reason why projects like the Bateman team competition is so important.

A sample of the social media graphics the Bateman team created for their Census 2020 campaign.

The Bateman competition is an annual challenge sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America. More than 65 student teams from universities and colleges around the country compete to see which team creates the best integrated communications campaign. One client is selected each year and frequently these projects focus on community awareness projects like this year’s client, Census 2020.

A team of five Grady College public relations students—Ashleigh Burroughs, De’Andra Gaston, Sarah Hawkins, Olivia Muller and Lottie Smalley— have been researching and creating their community outreach campaign since last November. The plan, specified by the competition, had to be enacted between Feb. 10 and March 20, 2020.

“From our research, we learned that most people know a little about the Census, but they don’t know all of the things that the Census is used for from the allocation of federal funding to redistricting,” said Gaston, a senior public relations major. “We hope that our campaign persuades residents to participate in the Census for the good of the city of Athens.”

In addition to helping determine federal funding for community services like school programs, fire and emergency services, roads, and healthcare services, the Census provides data for other benefits including political representation, economic growth and emergency preparedness planning.

Each team was challenged with strategizing an integrated public relations plan to educate the local community about the importance of the Census and how easy it is to participate. The teams were also asked to select one hard-to-reach or hard-to-count group to target like renters, households with annual incomes of less than $35,000 or those who have less than a high school education.

The UGA Bateman team coordinated several online surveys and focus groups as part of their research, then created a social media campaign and two events to increase awareness and exposure.

“We chose the title ‘Athens Counts,’” Hawkins said, “because we wanted to let the people know about all the benefits of the Census to this place we all love.”

The events included a town hall meeting that was to have taken place with Athens Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, Georgia State Representative Spencer Frye and Rebecca Hart, CEO of Fair Count, an organization dedicated to ensuring Georgians participate in Census 2020. Interested students had registered for every spot in the second event, a Create-a-thon social media brainstorming session.

“When I met with the team just before spring break, they had crossed every T and dotted every I for these events,” said Karen Miller Russell, the team’s faculty adviser. “But we knew COVID-19 was starting to spread across the United States, and we had to leave without knowing what would happen next.”

Not surprisingly, the team had to cancel both events once the mandates for social distancing were enacted.

Fortunately, team members had a strong foundation and were able to shift gears to rely exclusively on social media and virtual communication, pushing out their digital messages of awareness and education on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok.

Once social distancing was enforced, the team shifted their focus to digital messaging about completing the Census online.

“Pivoting entirely through Facetime and phone calls was quite challenging in all honesty,” Burroughs said. “I will say, though, we had firm objectives and tactics in place, so we never lost focus on the end goal. The firm foundation definitely made it easier to pivot when things didn’t go as planned.”

The team learned valuable lessons with the change of their plans. ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst’ is a common phrase, and one that rang true these changes.

“We thought about troubleshooting during the actual town hall, but never imagined the chaos that would ensue over the next week,” Burroughs said.

The final project was turned in early April.


Health and Medical Journalism students report on coronavirus

When four Introduction to Health and Medical Journalism students sat around a table with several intensive care unit nurses, infection preventionists and public relations professionals at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center on February 27, 2020, they were discussing the possibility of coronavirus coming to the area.

The discussion at the time was hypothetical.

Little did they know, a few weeks later they would be on the forefront of insight into local preparations for what many call the biggest story in recent time—and, they would see their class assignments published in Georgia Health News.

The students also learned first-hand what most professional journalists already know: the story journalists are assigned to cover can drastically change and be totally different by the time it is printed.

Sabriya Rice, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, explains why it’s so important for student journalists to understand medical terms. “If you can’t fully explain the term,” Rice says, “you can’t explain it to your audience.” (photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Madeline Laguaite, a graduate student in Grady’s health journalism master’s program, has experienced how quickly things have changed. The original story idea was evaluating the preparedness of Athens area hospitals if this novel coronavirus strain, now known as COVID-19, appeared in Athens.

“By the time it was ready to publish the week of March 15, the situation had changed,” Laguaite said. “COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were starting to pick up and it wasn’t really a question of if COVID-19 cases would appear in Athens, but when.”

Laguaite quickly learned another lesson of seasoned journalists: stories come on their own time, not the most convenient time. Although the story was turned before spring break, Laguaite spent most of that next week updating the story to make it accurate and relevant to what was happening at the time. She researched the decisions that local policymakers were making to protect the residents of Athens and talked with local restauranteurs about the economic impact of closing their restaurants.

“My motivation to continue updating and interviewing sources for the story came from my love of health reporting,” she continued. “Although the COVID-19 situation is uncertain and can be frightening, this is a great time to be getting a master’s in health and medical journalism.”

All four students in Sabriya Rice’s class are getting more experience than they expected when the class started in January. What started out as a typical master’s class for Laguaite, Jillian Tracy, Brittany Carter and Andrea (Andi) Clements, quickly diverged to an actual breaking news subject that the students could research, interview and report on in real time as they would if they were professional journalists.

To add to the experience, Rice arranged to have the final features reviewed and considered for print in Georgia Health News, which published the first two stories and is considering future features.

Sherry Ann Ward, director of patient and employee safety at St. Mary’s Hospital, shows Jillian Tracy the proper way to t wear an N95 mask on Feb. 12, 2020. (photo: Sabriya Rice)

As information about coronavirus started to intensify in China and Europe, the students started looking at local angles including a phone interview with a local resident who returned from international travel and had self-quarantined. They also visited and toured St. Mary’s and Piedmont Athens Regional hospitals. The students learned about negative pressure rooms, the correct way to put on an N-95 mask and how even taking out the trash and flushing the toilet have special procedures if there is a potentially infected patient.

“It definitely helps to get an idea for the atmosphere and a better visual understanding of the process,” said Tracy, a Double Dawg finishing her journalism degree and starting her master’s degree, about the impact of the tour. “Just getting thrown in is sometimes the best way to learn.”

The goal for Rice was to make sure her students were getting the experience, so they would not be intimidated when the time came for real reporting. The experience writing the stories and seeing them in print has been icing on the cake.

Despite the lack of down time over spring break, the class has been an eye-opening experience for Laguaite that has confirmed her interest in becoming a health reporter.

“This has definitely been a learning experience for sure,” Laguaite concluded. “With medical journalism, misinformation can be downright dangerous. We get new information about coronavirus every day and it really made me appreciate the work that health reporters do even more than I already do.”

Editor’s note: The visit to Piedmont Athens Regional took place February 27. The visit to St. Mary’s was on February 12. At the time of publication, the students had two stories published on the Georgia Health News website: “From a scare in Shanghai to a quarantine in Georgia” and “Quiet but not calm in a virus ghost town.”

Talking Dog gives students an immersive communications agency experience

It is one of the first questions posed to Grady College advertising and public relations alumni when interviewing for jobs: “Do you have any agency experience?”

Hiring managers seek a diverse skillset and the collaborative experience creating when working in an agency environment. In its third year, Talking Dog continues to grow and develop as an integrated, in-house, full-service, student-led agency.

 “Talking Dog is like its own little family in Grady College,” said Hiba Rizvi, a fourth-year public relations major and Talking Dog co-director. “It consists of our college’s most innovative minds that create meaningful work for clients that benefit from their efforts.”

Talking Dog works with real world clients and gives students the opportunity to execute campaigns through traditional and digital methods. This year Talking Dog has 85 students from 11 different majors that work in cross disciplinary teams. They serve 11 clients, the most to date.

A team from Talking Dog worked with The Backpack Project, an organization that provides necessities to the homeless.
(L-R): Jordan Marbury (Copywriter), Sierra Brown (Account Executive), Keagan Ross (Fetch Strategist), Gracie Hamby (Public Relations Specialist), Virginia Matthews (Art Director)

“It is essential that we provide a learning lab like Talking Dog,” said Bryan Reber, department head for advertising and public relations. “I am always amazed by the quality of work they develop for clients.”

Part of Talking Dog’s mission is to foster relationships with local community leaders, businesses and non-profits to help them achieve their goals. That includes a developing a potential pipeline for the next generation of communications leaders. Athens Academy (a local K-12 school) and Talking Dog have a partnership to share knowledge and learn from each other that delivers on that mission.

Built upon a demand from clients to gain more insight from Generation Z, the relationship with the Academy is a win-win. Talking Dog is able to conduct research through surveys with students in grades 9-12, while Talking Dog is mentoring three high school students, serving as interns for specific clients.

“Talking Dog has been an incredible experience for our students, who were fortunate enough to be selected,” said John Thorsen, Athens Academy head of school. “They have learned and grown from the professional environment, and I believe they have also contributed a valuable perspective along the way.”

Teamwork is now even easier for Talking Dog students as they are housed in the recently renovated Yarbrough Campaigns Lab, in honor of C. Richard (Dick) Yarbrough (ABJ ’59). 

“A student-run firm in a university allows fresh minds to cultivate extraordinary ideas with live feedback by their peers as they progress,” Rizvi said.

Students or potential clients can learn more about Talking Dog and contact the agency at:

Washington Post writer Rana Ayyub awarded with McGill Medal for journalistic courage

Rana Ayyub, global opinions writer at the Washington Post, who has reported on religious violence and extrajudicial killings by the state in India, will receive the 2020 McGill Medal for journalistic courage.

The medal ceremony will take place in the Peyton Anderson Forum at Grady College on Wednesday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m.

In a career spanning fourteen years, Ayyub has been awarded the Sanskriti award for integrity and excellence in journalism from the President of India. She was the recipient of the Global Shining Light award for Investigative journalism in the year 2017 and the Most Resilient Global Journalist of 2018 at the Peace Palace in Hague.

Ayyub authored an international bestseller titled “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up,” an undercover investigation which exposes the complicity of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in state-sponsored genocide.

She has also been named by Time magazine among ten global journalists who face maximum threats to their lives and has been profiled by New Yorker. Ayyub is based in Mumbai, India.

Nominations for the medal came from journalists and journalism educators from across the country. The 2019 class of McGill Fellows, 12 students chosen for academic achievement, practical experience and leadership, researched the nominees and made the selection.

“Ayyub is committed to telling the stories of people who can’t do it on their own, making her an ideal McGill medal recipient” said Sofia Gratas, the McGill Fellow responsible for researching the nomination.

The McGill Medal, now in its twelfth year, is part of the McGill Program for Journalistic Courage at UGA’s Grady College.

For more than 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. The medal was added in 2009.

“All of this is for a single purpose: to advance journalistic courage,” said Diane H. Murray, the Grady College’s director of alumni relations and outreach and director of the McGill program.

The McGill program 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.

For more information on the program, see

Deputy general counsel for The New York Times to give the 41st McGill Lecture

The New York Times top newsroom lawyer, David McCraw, will address fake news at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s 41st McGill Lecture.

McCraw will deliver “Fake, Fake News: The Press, The President and the Future of the First Amendment,” Nov. 13, 2019, at 4 p.m. in room 150 of the Miller Learning Center. The event is open to the public.

Earlier in the day, McCraw will take part in the McGill Symposium which brings together students, faculty and leading journalists to consider what journalistic courage means and how it is exemplified by reporters and editors.

Professionals joining for the Symposium include Samira Jafari (ABJ ‘02), executive editor, CNN;  Sonya Ross, managing partner and editor-in-chief, Black Women Unmuted; McCraw; and Andrea Bruce, photojournalist.

Since 2002, McCraw has advised The New York Times while it was breaking stories about WikiLeaks, Harvey Weinstein, President Donald Trump’s tax returns and more. In addition, he is known for his work bringing Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the federal government.

McCraw’s book, “Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts,” was released earlier this year and focuses on the legal hurdles he and The Times have overcome while reporting on President Trump’s administration.

McCraw received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois and went on to receive his master’s degree from Cornell University. Before starting at Albany Law School, McCraw worked as a copywriter and a journalism professor at Marist College.

The McGill Lecture and Symposium are part of Grady College’s McGill program, which honors the memory of Ralph McGill and his courage as editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the 1950s and 60s.

For more information about the McGill Program for Journalistic Courage, visit Grady College’s website.

Looking beyond the obvious at the Georgia National Fair

When someone talks about the Georgia National Fair, obvious images come to mind: rides, pigs, kids and cotton candy. However, when the 18 students in Mark Johnson’s Advanced Photojournalism class hear the words “Georgia National Fair,” their challenge is to think beyond the obvious and to create images about what the fair means, not how it looks.

For the sixth year in a row, students headed to Perry, Georgia, on Oct. 5, 2019, to spend a day at the fair. The beauty of the experiential learning workshop is that in addition to taking pictures, the students also receive on-the-spot critiques of their work by nine professional photojournalists.

Kyser Lough joined the group for the first time as one of the professional mentors. Lough, who joined the Grady faculty this year as an assistant professor, heard about the photojournalism workshops during the interview process and was immediately intrigued.

“It’s one thing to teach photography, but to bring so many exceptionally talented photojournalists to work with the students for focused time is amazing,” Lough said.

Jordan Meaker photographs one of the Georgia National Fair games. (Photo: Kyser Lough)

Lough added that one of the luxuries of the workshop is the ability to spend 16 hours at the fair experimenting with shots, while frequently consulting with the professional photojournalists and returning to the fair to take better pictures based on the feedback.

Many of the images will be used by the Georgia National Fair for future promotions and by the Perry Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which donates their conference room for the students and photojournalists to meet to discuss the images.

New to the weekend was a special photo challenge for those students who arrived the Friday evening before. The students were tasked with taking pictures that evening depicting “fair food” or “date night,” that were then shared on the fair’s Instagram account, while other images throughout the weekend were posted on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Instagram account.

Johnson, who has coordinated each of the fall trips to the fair, has seen a refined experience each year since many of the professional photojournalists are returning and finding new ways to guide the students.

“I think there were more varied images this year, than in the past,” Johnson said. “These students took the phrase ‘show us what the fair means to heart,’ and that really clicked.”

The weekend workshop is supported by the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism.

Below is small sampling of the nearly 40,000 images that were taken. Additional pictures can be viewed on the Grady Newsource website.

  • Katherine Dawson, 20 months old from Fitzgerald, Georgia, eats a candied apple while her brother tries to win a fishing game at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia, on Saturday, October 5, 2019. (Photo/Erin Schilling)