The Grady College’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) was recognized as the outstanding student chapter in Region Three for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The Society honors a select group of campus chapters for their outstanding work in supporting the group’s missions, members and journalism. Each year, SPJ’s 12 regional coordinators and directors select campus chapters that have shown overall excellence. UGA’s chapter was selected from a regional group of more than a dozen chapters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
“We are thrilled to receive such an honor,” said Ashlyn Webb, a Grady senior and the chapter’s president for the 2019 year. “Our executive board has been dedicated to bringing resources in for Grady student journalists to excel in their academic and professional careers.”
Savannah Peat, a 2019 Grady graduate who was the chapter president during the 2018 year, said serving in a leadership role “was a lot of work, and a lot of fun, and earning this title makes it all the more worth it.” Peat, who is now a news producer at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, NM, said she hopes those who came to the meetings learned important fundamentals about journalism that they will carry with them throughout their careers.
Grady’s chapter is governed by a student executive board elected for a calendar year, while the SPJ award recognizes an outstanding chapter for an academic year. The executive board for 2018 in addition to Peat included: Amy Scott (vice president), Maddie Ray (executive planner), Ashlyn Webb (marketing director) and Casey Rose (social media director). The executive board for 2019 in addition to Webb includes: Kelly Mayes (vice president), Joshua Tillman (executive planner) and Amy Scott (social media and marketing director).
The Grady SPJ chapter is operated in partnership with the student chapter of the Online News Association (ONA) and both are financially sponsored by Grady’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership. Dr. Keith Herndon, who is the Cox Institute director, also served as the student chapter adviser from Fall 2016 through Spring 2019. Grady’s Dr. Amanda Bright is the current chapter adviser.
“The student leaders deserve all of the credit for this award,” Herndon said. “It’s not easy to plan and execute quality programming for a volunteer organization. They are to be commended for a lot of hard work and dedication.”
Webb said the chapter intends to keep up the good work the award recognizes by featuring programs on topics including technology trends, ethical issues, media law and more. Peat added, “I’m so excited, thinking about future SPJ members being part of such an outstanding chapter.”
Students interested in joining ONA and SPJ at UGA can contact the organizations at firstname.lastname@example.org.