Journalism Innovation Lab Team finishes in top six in nationwide competition

The first-ever Journalism Innovation Lab Team from the Cox Institute of Innovation, Management and Leadership finished in the top six teams in the nation, out of more than 50, in the 2022 Reynolds Journalism Institution Student Innovation Competition.

Team members Sophia Haynes, Cassidy Hettesheimer and Gabby Vitali, all journalism majors, created and tested a product called j-notes, which improves news literacy and relationships between audiences and journalists by lifting the veil on how reporters make decisions and cover stories. This web-based design allows for short-form, embedded videos from the journalists themselves that walk the audience through how a story was covered and why — to increase trust in the news.

“The journalists can explain why they decided to write something a certain way, how they found a piece of information, or show a video from the field,” the team said in their presentation. “The goal of j-notes is to build connections with journalists, increase transparency, and help audience members feel confident in knowing what to look for in trustworthy journalism.”

Screenshot of the news literacy tool j-notes in action.
j-notes consists of short-form, embedded videos that allow the journalist to speak directly with the audience.

The team started in fall 2021 with the creation of this research-based concept. Then, they developed a wireframe and made a brief presentation for RJI judges, who moved their team to the second round, where they built the product and tested it with audience members through in-depth, qualitative interviews. Then, the team created a final presentation for a panel of judges.

WATCH: View the final presentation for the UGA Journalism Innovation Lab Team:

On March 21, the UGA team was one of the top six finalists for an awards ceremony, which also included teams from the University of Oregon, University of Missouri, Ohio University, University of Florida and Purdue University-Fort Wayne. University of Florida took the top prize, which was $10,000.

Even though the UGA team didn’t place in the top spot, Vitali said she gained experience she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

“It was amazing to work with others with the same goal in mind and to bounce our ideas off each other in a productive way,” Vitali said.

According to Cassidy Hettesheimer, the process wasn’t without its challenges, but was ultimately rewarding.

“The process of brainstorming, creating and gathering feedback pushed us to be creative, collaborative and decisive,” Hettesheimer said. “I learned a ton participating in the RJI Student Innovation competition that will hopefully help shape how my teammates and I look at journalism in the future.”

Sophia Haynes said she had an eye to the future of journalism as well, as she did research and the wire-framing process in creating J-Notes, which she believes has a real application in news organizations.

“Hopefully, this idea doesn’t just stop here,” Haynes said. “I love the concept of short-form videos to engage readers in stories and to answer potential questions that may arise while reading.”

Dr. Amanda Bright, director of the Journalism Innovation Lab, said she could not be more proud of the team and what it accomplished in this first-ever endeavor.

“Our three team members were thoughtful, reflective and so professional throughout the process — from the conception of the idea through to the final presentation,” Bright said. “They truly created a product that would be a benefit to any newsroom to create stronger ties and trust between journalists and audiences.”

Bright said the Journalism Innovation Lab plans to create another team and enter the RJI competition again next year.

There for the Big Games: Red & Black staff discuss covering the Orange Bowl and National Championship

Editor’s Note: The following article, written by Eva Pound for The Red & Black, features several of its reporters and photojournalists who covered the UGA football team’s playoff and championship games. We are reprinting it here with permission from The Red & Black since many of those featured are Grady College students or recently-graduated alumni including Jessica Gratigny, Drew Hubbard (AB ’21), Jake Jennings (AB ’21), Katherine Lewis and Kathryn Skeean.


The Red & Black is an independent, private, student-run newsroom, and we are grateful for the experiential opportunities it provides for students.


It originally appeared on The Red & Black website January 25, 2022.

Covering a high-profile championship game is a challenge in itself, but for Red & Black reporters heading to the Orange Bowl, complications arose well before they reached Miami. At the last minute, their flight was cancelled thanks to bad weather and the surge in the omicron variant.

“I was literally at Target getting flight-friendly shampoo and conditioner the second I got the text. I knew at that moment that our adventure got a little more interesting,” said Kathryn Skeean, photo editor.

“We all met in Athens to make the trip by car,” said Katherine Lewis, assistant sports editor. A full day of driving later, Skeean, Lewis and sports editor Drew Hubbard arrived in Miami to cover the game.

“That trip with Katherine Lewis and Drew Hubbard is one I will cherish forever, though,” Skeean said. “It’s hard not to bond with people you’re trapped in a car with for 12-plus hour drives.”

Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny ready to take pictures at the National Championship game.
Red & Black photo editor Kathryn Skeean (foreground) and assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny at the National Championship in Indianapolis in January 2022. Skeean and Gratigny are journalism students at Grady College. (Photo courtesy Kathryn Skeean)

The buzz around the game can cause an onset of nerves for student reporters, Hubbard said. “The challenge of covering big games like this is making sure you don’t make the moment too big, because that will freak you out and then you won’t be in the right mindset to write your stories. If I allow stress and imposter syndrome to get the best of me, then I won’t be able to produce my best work for these big games.”

Amid the national spotlight on titan football teams going head to head, student reporters must act professionally, skillfully generate stories and photographs and get into “game mode,” said Skeean.

As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs led with a score of 34-11 against the Wolverines.

“In my opinion, the most memorable moment was when I realized that Georgia was going to win and that I would be covering a team that had a shot at a national title,” Lewis said.

While photographing action on the field was exciting for Skeean, one of her highlights came during the post-game celebration, when players were tossing out oranges from the namesake trophy, and one player picked up an orange to take a bite.

“Watching Jordan Davis make a normal sized orange look like a Cutie, though, is not a blur,” said Skeean. “I saw him pick it up and I vividly remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can’t miss this moment, this is gold.’ It has since become one of my more iconic photos, and I still crack up every time I see it.”

Skeaan’s photo of Jordan Davis snacking on an orange was the image on the front page of the digital Red & Black special edition produced a few days later, while a shot of quarterback Stetson Bennett ran on the print edition A1.


View photos from the National Championship on The Red & Black website. Photos by Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny.

Onward to Indy

When it came to the national title game between Georgia and Alabama, air travel once again became a problem. Tickets were limited, prices exorbitant and the threat of cancellations high. So the team once again opted for a road trip, with Skeean and Hubbard joined by assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny and assistant sports editor Jake Jennings.

“Just like the Orange Bowl, the National Championship game was such a blur. The first half was a battle photographically purely because of the lack of offensive action,” Skeean said. “As great as Jack Podlesny and Will Reichard are at kicking the ball through the uprights, that does not exactly make for the greatest photo gallery in the world. As we all know, the second half was a different story.”

After a battle of field goals, the action picked up in the second half of the game. “The most memorable moment from this whole postseason run was probably Kelee Ringo’s interception in the National Championship to seal the win,” Hubbard said. “Alabama still had a shot to win the game, it wasn’t a great shot but it was still possible. Georgia fans know that it’s not over until it’s over, and for sports writers, that’s true as well.”

“Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it is the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.” 
— Drew Hubbard, Red & Black sports editor

For Jennings, a highlight was the post-game player interviews. “They were so pumped up and gave really good quotes.”

As the Red & Black team made the long drive back to Athens the day after the game, a small team was at work in the newsroom on Baxter Street putting together the special edition on the national title win. The reporters made a stop on the way to get a strong enough Wi-Fi connection to upload photos and download PDFs of page proofs to review. “Working on the paper out of a Starbucks on the way home was pretty crazy, but was a cool experience,” Jennings said.

Start the presses

“I went to the printers with Charlotte. We watched the papers come off the machine and I saw the photo I had taken on the front. It was surreal,” Skeean said. “We both got emotional. I thought the emotions would end there, but boy, was I wrong. Seeing people lined up all the way down Baxter Street to pick up the paper the next day was the craziest feeling ever, and I could not be more grateful.”

Hubbard said a lot of work goes into preparing to cover a big football game, and it can be tiring. But, he added: ”Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it was the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.”

One for the history books

The work of the sports and photo team is not ending with the special edition. They are working with the Red & Black special publications team on a 100-page book to be released in February. “Delivered,” will capture the championship run, title game and recap the season, showcasing a semester of reporting and photography.

“The Red & Black has given me so much and I’ll always be grateful for my time at this paper. Not just the postseason run, but every sport I’ve gotten to cover,” Hubbard says. “Covering equestrian, softball, soccer and baseball were some of the best times, too. Now, looking back at my whole time at the paper, being able to cover one of the most historic wins in Georgia sports history is something I’ll always cherish and The Red & Black gave me that experience. I learned so much about journalism, life and leadership, and I will always be thankful for my time here.”

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.”

#GradyGrit: Meet Melissa Hevener

Why did you choose public relations as a major?

I got involved on an SGA campaign my first year, and I didn’t anticipate to work on the communications committee, however, I found myself drifting towards that area. In a few short weeks, I played a role in ironing out our communications strategy and recognized during this process that this was the type of work I wanted to pursue long-term. Some wonderful mentors guided me in the right direction to major in public relations and political science so I could continue working in the public affairs communications sphere and specifically, messaging for political campaigns.

Who has been your favorite instructor? Class?

I will forever and always love Cacciatore’s intro to PR class. I just got such a good taste for PR through his class and his fun jokes! I also really love a class I am currently in: Intro to Public Affairs Communication with Professor Watson.

What is the hardest part about being a Grady student?

As cliché as it may seem, sometimes the hardest part is being able to grasp the depth of resources and opportunities available to you through Grady. One thing I personally struggle with is knowing that there are a plethora of Grady organizations and pre-professional opportunities that I could not possibly take advantage of in two short years.

What is the last show you binge-watched and would you recommend it?

I recently have been binge-watching Netflix’s The Politician – yes! It has been such a fun rollercoaster of a show, and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially anyone that has had some experience in student government and can appreciate its quirks.

Summer highlight?

Orientation, for sure! Between meeting thousands of students new to the university, hearing their stories and lived experiences or spending time with my Orientation team, there wasn’t one thing that was the greatest highlight of my summer. A treasured memory I will always have is the dancing we’d do right before Orientation Live every Day 1 of a First-Year Session. Being up there dancing with my team and encouraging first years to break out of their shell and let loose a little bit is always such a special experience.

What do you do when you’re homesick?

Whenever I am homesick, I will always try to seek out some good Filipino food. I always find eating food that tastes like home makes me feel a little better and closer to the Philippines.

What is your favorite creative outlet?

My favorite creative outlet is tinkering around with Adobe Photoshop. As nerdy as that seems, I really enjoyed learning Photoshop for one of my Grady classes. After the class, I decided to keep the program and I have really found making creative work digitally to be so therapeutic.

Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.

#GradyGrit: Meet Sofia Gratas

Why did you choose journalism as a major?

I didn’t want to be a journalist at first. I tried out a biology major when I first got into college and realized I didn’t really have a knack for science. I’ve always enjoyed writing and creating visual media, so once I got to UGA, it became clear that journalism was the way to go.

What motivates you?

As human beings, we have so much potential. But when people are uninformed and uninterested in their communities, all that potential slips away. Journalism is the cornerstone of any society, and I think being a journalist — any kind of journalist — is one of the most noble professions. So what motivates me is the difference I can make through my position as a journalist.

What is the best or most rewarding part about being a Grady student?

Grady provides its students with such a variety of opportunities. That’s the best part about this college. While UGA is large and may seem overwhelming, once I got into Grady, I understood what community and support in an academic setting really feels like.

What has been your proudest moment is the past year?

I was awarded first and second place for a news and feature story, respectively, by the Georgia College Press Association for work I wrote for The Red & Black. That felt pretty amazing, to have my hard work recognized.

Where do you get your news? Outlet/app/online vs. print?

I get most of my news from online sources. It varies, but The New York Times and NPR (radio) are my main sources of news. And of course, local outlets such as The Red & Black and Flagpole.

What are your personal hobbies?

I’ve never been too much of a hobby person, but photography has always been something I enjoy doing. Being able to use my photography skills for photojournalism purposes has been a game changer. I enjoy thrift shopping, spending time with my partner and my cat, and discovering new things about Athens. Traveling is something I wish I could do more of.

Sofia working in the newsroom of The Red & Black. (Courtesy: Sofia Gratas)

Who is your professional hero and why?

My grandmother, Leticia Callava. Born in Cuba, she immigrated to Miami, Florida, in the 1950’s and created an extremely successful, professional career in journalism out of nothing. She was one of the top anchors in Spanish-language television, battling sexism and racism that ran rampant during the time period along the way. She has interviewed people such as singer Celia Cruz, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Mother Teresa. I admire so many journalists, but I have to say that having one in the family has had a major impact.

What is your favorite spot on campus and why?

Probably the turtle pond in front of the Ecology building. It’s the spot that brings me the most joy. But the law building on north campus comes second. If I’m going to do work on campus, it’ll most likely be in the Law Library.


Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.

#GradyGrit: Meet Kelsey Cunningham

What made you choose EMST as a major?

 I actually started college as a classic Pre-Med student, but always loved film & television. I believe I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in film & television, but was unsure of what that path would look like. It wasn’t until I studied abroad through the Cannes Film Festival program my freshman year of college that I realized I wasn’t pursuing opportunities like Cannes because I “loved” STEM. Through Cannes, I was able to not only immerse myself in the glitziest and highest-profile film scene there is, but meet older EMST students who told me about the classes they were taking and what kinds of careers they wanted. I realized then and there that EMST was the program of study for me. And the rest is history!

What are you passionate about?

This may be a cop-out answer, but I’m truly passionate about encouraging and supporting unique stories. I find a lot of my happiness not in what I personally accomplish, but how I’m able to encourage and support those whom I believe in. I think that’s why I’ve always stuck to producer or production management type roles—these roles are integral in supporting both the productions themselves and the crew members and support staff that make productions happen. If I can make people believe in and understand the importance of their contributions, then I’m a happy camper.

What advice would you give to a student taking their first class in Grady?

It’s so hard to choose one, so I’m going to give a few of my hot takes:

1) Be ambitious! Don’t let the fear of being told ‘no’ keep you from doing something you want to do, whether that be auditioning for a play, directing your first short, etc. Telling someone ‘no’ is another person’s job, and don’t take his/her/their job away from them.

2) Comparison is a thief of joy. Don’t compare yourself to your peers because we’re all on different journeys, and there is no right or wrong path to getting where you want to go.

3) Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Consistently seek out and take advantage of the opportunities around you, and if there are seemingly none, create your own!

4) Network both vertically and horizontally. Build relationships with both your professors and peers because your peers are the people you’ll be working with in the future, and you never know who your boss will be!

What was your experience like in the Grady LA Field Study and Internship Program in the summer of 2018?

Grady LA helped me better understand the entertainment landscape in Hollywood, and subsequently helped me to narrow down which career path I wanted to take. I was able to get a glimpse of what LA life actually looks like, while also having the comfort of coming home each night to my UGA pals. I would not have been able to come back to LA in Summer 2019 and work for a company like Hulu if I had not had the Grady LA experience under my belt.

Cunningham interned with Hulu in Los Angeles this past summer. Employees are encouraged to be creative when taking their ID pictures, so Cunningham based her photo off of the “got milk?” campaign. (Courtesy: Kelsey Cunningham.)

What are your plans after graduating with your Grady degree?

I plan to pack all my things in my little HRV and move to LA in early 2020. I’m hoping to land an assistant or executive assistant-type role in a studio or network’s production department—HBO, hit ya girl up—and slowly but surely work my way up to studio executive. I could see myself dabbling in the line producer/UPM/creative producer world a bit too, so we’ll see where the wind takes me!

What is your favorite quote and why?

I don’t have a favorite quote, but I try to live by a phrase my Dad always tells me: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the end, it’s all small stuff.” I can sometimes let the little things stress me out, but thinking about this phrase calms me down because life is too short to worry about the things you cannot control.

What is your favorite creative outlet and why?

I love creating a good Spotify playlist. I really enjoy discovering new music and listening to tunes across various eras and genres. I also drive quite a bit, so I often have the time to listen to a lot of music and podcasts during my commutes.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I guess people might be surprised to know that I did karate for 8 years growing-up and have a black belt. Or that I’m a Scorpio. People are either very surprised to find that out or find it very fitting. Yikes!

What do you do when you’re homesick?

I don’t get homesick too often because I’m more attached to people than places. I talk to my family every day and have kept in touch with my close friends from high school, so I feel like there’s a piece of home with me wherever I go.

Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.

#GradyGrit: Meet Baylee Marsh

Why did you choose to study advertising?

After starting an internship at Epting Events, I chose to study advertising. I absolutely loved the Event Planning industry because it heavily revolves around organization and sales. Advertising gives me the skill set to be able to market to clients and make those sales. I wanted to be in Grady because of its incredible reputation. I decided to add the Entrepreneurship certificate after I started my business and realized that it has potential to go somewhere big. I wanted to be able to learn as much as I could about things that pertain to my future while in school.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

My most memorable Grady experiences are just the creative classes that I’m able to take on a day-to-day basis. Being able to learn strategies that improve my businesses feels so rewarding.

What motivates you?

I live for serving other people and seeing them happy. I will not rest until everyone in my life is content, and that will always make the all-nighters well worth it.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be running my own businesses. Ideally, I would work on Baylee Bakes with a large team during the weekdays and coordinate weddings with a smaller team on the weekends. Weddings are more of a hobby for me, but I’d still like to approach it as a job.

Can you talk about the process of starting your own business as a college student?

Last year, Baylee Bakes started as a joke on a second Instagram account. I made it so I would have a creative outlet for my baking and wouldn’t obnoxiously post on my regular account. It was just cupcakes and cakes and other fun pastries until my summer roommate asked if I had ever done decorated sugar cookies; her boss was looking for some for a baby shower. I told her I hadn’t, but that I’d certainly try. After posting a photo of them on my second Instagram, I received multiple inquiries. As a result, I just started doing them as favors for people and posting photos as content. About a month of this goes by, and I’m getting more and more requests. I recognized the growing need for something like this. So, I set up a pricing guide, a logo and ordered a few business cards to start running it intentionally as a business. At three months in, I was turning down orders regularly, while still pushing out about 300 cookies a week. I applied to do the Summer Launch Program, a program but for viable businesses, and won the competition at the end of the summer. By this point, I was generating over $10,000 in revenue monthly with cookies, while still a full-time student and working part-time with the Epting Events. It was getting absolutely exhausting, and I slept maybe 3-4 days out of the week. Last month, I hired three employees that help me bake, decorate and run my digital media outlets. A little over a year ago, I would have never imagined I’d start a business, let alone be running one while still in college.


In what ways does having advertising knowledge help you run Baylee Bakes?

Back-to-school cookies baked and decorated by Marsh. (Courtesy: Baylee Bakes)

My knowledge of advertising from the Grady major program has been 75% of starting and running my business. Having the skills to plan and start an effective social media campaign on Instagram and Facebook keeps my business running. Almost all of my customers have come from people sharing my work in Facebook groups.

What or who is your favorite band or musician?

I’ve been a huge fan of Taylor Swift since her first album came out in 2006. I have stuck around for all of the changes she’s made. I love everything that she comes up with and puts out into the world. She’s seriously a lyrical genius. My boyfriend and I flew up to Boston to see her on tour last year.

What do you do when you’re homesick?

I don’t ever get homesick. I’ve always been a super independent person, and I love being out and doing things on my own. I do enjoy a quality FaceTime call with family members every now and then, though.

Do you have a favorite creative outlet?

It depends on the mood that I’m in. If I’m calm and just looking to fill time, I love to decorate cookies. I don’t care for the busy work of baking the cookies, but I love sitting down for hours and watching designs come to life on a cookie. If my mind is racing and I feel excited, I love to plan trips and weddings, whether real or pretend. I love doing extensive research on flights, hotels, wedding venues and vendors, and making PowerPoints and spreadsheets of my findings.

Dog or cat person, or both?

I prefer dogs over cats because I love their personalities, but I have nothing against cats. I have a beautiful 1-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever named Bryzzo, and it warms me up to see how excited he gets to see me. I also love how well-trained a dog can be.

Favorite local coffee shop?

I love the atmosphere and feel of Buvez, as well as their fresh food and coffee. The caramel latte is amazing, and they always offer a different cheese plate to buy. I also love that they get treats from other local businesses, like Independent Baking Company and Condor Chocolates.

Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.

#GradyGrit: Meet Phillip B. Hubbard

Why did you choose to study Journalism?

It was my first year of high school. The head boys’ soccer coach asked me to broadcast the soccer matches later that day. I was a freshman, so I had no idea what I wanted to do. So, I hesitated at first, but, on March 18, 2012, my life changed forever. I walked up to the press box to broadcast the matches and instantly fell in love with it. It’s cliché to say, but I call it “love at first sight.” That day, I made my mind up that this is where I want to be. I want to cover sports teams, be close to the players and action, so I can be the one to share their stories in whatever medium, whether it be print, audio, voice or whatever. I want to be that guy.

What is the hardest part of being a Grady student?

Does such a thing exist? Being a Grady student has been amazing. The standard is set high all the way from Dean Davis to the professors. Grady expects nothing but greatness. Now, that’s the same for all of UGA, I assume, but there’s something that sets Grady apart in my mind: every professor, faculty and staff member cares about and are willing to help us anyway they can. I mean, Dean Davis sets a day aside every semester to cook us hot dogs and get to know us all on an individual basis. Never have I felt alone in Grady. If a project or story is taking a toll on me, I’ve had Grady professors assist me with advice, helpful suggestions or even a blunt “figure it out.” It’s like a big family that I consider myself blessed to be a part of.

What made you want to start your own podcast? What kind of support did you receive from the Grady community following the decision?

I took Multiplatform Sports Storytelling with Dr. Suggs in Fall 2018. We were tasked with covering beats as part of the class and working as a team to produce a podcast. We had the opportunity to, in a casual setting, discuss sports with our friends and have fun doing so. So, that sparked the idea, but I didn’t want to do it alone by no means. I texted my awesome colleague and even better friend, Hayden Chambless, about the idea, and she immediately said yes. Now, as much as I’d like to take credit behind the name “Behind the Bark,” I can’t. That was all her. We’ve received tremendous support from the Grady community since we’ve started. We’ve had our friends and fellow students Myan Patel and Jean Louise Webb on as guests, multiple friends have submitted questions and Dr. Suggs even assisted with one of our profile episodes. So, I have received a lot of support, and I’m extremely grateful for all of it.

Why do you think getting involved in activities outside of classes is important?

It allows me to take what I’ve been taught and put it into practice in the real world. It allows me to evolve my knowledge and experience different things that this industry will throw at me. It’s great to learn in a lecture or classroom, but we get to learn things up close and personal.  Nothing in a class could’ve prepared me for working with a team like serving on the executive board of IABC this past year did. The organization was in a rebuilding phase and, with that, comes growing pains. I can’t speak for every officer, but I know I learned a lot in the year I served as its president. For example, what do you do when your guest speaker cancels three days before your club meeting? Nothing in a textbook could’ve prepared me on how to operate in that real-life situation. So, getting outside of the classroom and just having multiple experiences has really benefited me in my time at Grady and in college.

Hubbard at his summer 2019 internship with WUGA-FM. (Courtesy: Phillip B. Hubbard)

What would you tell the younger version of yourself if you could go back to the beginning of your first year in college?

Chill out. Take a breath. It’s all going to work out. The high school “me” and the college “me” are two totally different people. Coming into college, I was so uptight and wanted everything I did to be absolutely perfect. I would spend most nights just thinking “I could be doing more, and I could’ve done better.” Now, I’m mainly laid back and just go with the flow. A lot of people mistake that about me as saying “I don’t care,” but I do care. I care about everything I do, and that I’m involved with. However, my attitude nowadays is “I did the best I could. Let’s move on,” or “Plan A failed. What’s plan B?” I’m more confident in myself, and I wish I had this confidence four years ago.


What does Grady mean to you?

Grady is like a family to me. Everybody supports each other in this college no matter what your major is, the faculty, the staff, the colleagues you get to learn alongside. It’s really like a big family, and everybody is included. Everybody seems like they play an important role here.

Do you have a favorite quote?

My favorite quote is “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” because there are so many lessons you can learn whether it’s a task, a project or whatever the case may be. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because you learned something from it and you grew as a person.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment would have to be during my summer internship, this past summer actually, when I got to interview Vince Dooley for the Dooley Field dedication ceremony that took place before the first game. The fact that I got to interview him at all was kind of like a dream come true because he’s legendary around these parts.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am a morning person, definitely. I don’t like staying up late. I sound like a grandpa, but I normally get to bed no later than 10 o’clock at night.

What is, in your opinion, the best restaurant in Athens?

Clocked, I guess, would be the best one. It’s probably one of two that I’ve eaten here locally other than fast food restaurants. The burgers are good, and they have really good sweet tea, which is very important to me.

What’s your ideal travel destination?

Piegon Forge, Tennessee. I’ve only been there, Texas and Florida, and that has to be the dream spot for me. I plan to retire there one day.

Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.

Grady Sports Media students work 2018 Winter Olympic Games

Twenty-three days, 90 nations, 102 events and 15 sports made up this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In the midst of the history-making moments, numerous surprises and inspiring action were two students from the Grady Sports Media certificate program, Emily Giambalvo and Cat Hendrick, experiencing the Games in a way few can relate.

After a competitive selection process, Giambalvo and Hendrick were selected by the United States Olympic Committee to report on the games for the USOC’s various information channels including its website,

Cat Hendrick and Emily Giambalvo at the opening of the figure skating events. (Courtesy of Cat Hendrick)

“It was the best, longest, most trying and amazing experience of my life,” Hendrick, a second-year journalism major, reflected. “Every emotion you could possibly feel, it was in there. But, overall I just feel so lucky that we got to experience something that most sports reporters go their whole lives without experiencing.”

Giambalvo, a fourth-year management information systems major, agreed. “Overall, it was really awesome and it was such a cool environment to be in a worldwide setting that has a ton of chaos and a ton of exciting things with journalists from all over. I got to see and learn about a lot of new sports and cover really cool moments where history was being made.”

Over the course of three weeks, both Giambalvo and Hendrick worked under tight deadlines each producing more than 20 stories covering the different mountain and snow sports. These sports ranged from ice skating to snowboarding, hockey, speed skating, luge, bobsledding and many more. It was a chaotic and exhilarating environment where they not only worked closely with athletes but also with seasoned journalists.

“I was way more excited to meet journalists than athletes,” Giambalvo admitted.

Throughout this experience, both Giambalvo and Hendrick’s days were filled with traveling to the different sports venues, interviewing athletes and attending press conferences, working in the main press center and writing daily articles. It was not an easy task and each relied on the skills they acquired from their Grady Sports Media classes.

“Considering the fact that a year-and-a-half ago, I have never written a sports story, Grady Sports has helped me a lot,” Hendrick said. “The sports media certificate favors a trial-by-fire approach, but that has made all the difference in the world. I have Grady to thank for everything, because I was clueless a year-and-a-half ago. It wasn’t easy, but the professors care so much and have gone out of their way to help us.”

This opportunity was made possible with the support of Vicki Michaelis, John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society and director of Grady Sports. Michaelis was the lead Olympic reporter for USA Today from 2000-2012 and her relationship with the USOC opened the door for students to attend.

 To view a complete collection of the features that Giambalvo and Hendrick wrote at the Olympic Games, please see Grady Sports Media students cover Olympic Games

While Michaelis was a valuable resource and pushed them “to find stories outside of the easy scope,” the Olympics was not without its challenges. Both Giambalvo and Hendrick battled freezing cold temperatures and the pressure to consistently crank out creative stories.

“Any journalist can feel good about writing a story in one day, but after getting into the 14th consecutive day writing a story, it was challenging,” Giambalvo said. “There is no way for [Grady Sports] to teach you every situation, but it can give you the confidence that no matter what the situation is, I can handle it.”

The most challenging part was keeping our stamina up,” Hendrick echoed. “I was nervous going into the Olympics as a first-time writer, but I just had to trust my training. Grady gave me everything that I needed to know, it was just a matter of executing at that point, but I had all the tools that I needed.”

Emily Giambalvo interviewing an Olympic athlete. (Courtesy of Emily).

By the end of the games, both Giambalvo and Hendrick walked away with countless memories, stories and experiences.

Giambalvo said she most enjoyed watching figure skating, and covering the U.S. gold medal curling game. “The curling gold medal game, was the last event I covered and the last story I wrote. The overall significance of what it meant for the sport and the athletes made it the perfect story. It was a nice way to end it.”

“You see the Olympics through a certain lens your entire life, so to actually be there behind the scenes and see all the work that goes into every single clip was really fascinating,” Hendrick concluded. “I’ve read a thousand stories in my life, but to be in the press conference and see the answers to the question I’ve asked on CNN, Fox and ESPN was really neat. This was literally the Olympics of sports journalism. I am super grateful to Professor Michaelis and the rest of the sports media certificate for working so hard to get us the opportunity of a lifetime.”