Society & Culture

Grady College tool kit will aid journalists in reporting on the recession

Athens, Ga. – New ways for reporters to cover local stories about the impact of the current recession will be released this weekend at a national journalism conference., a tool kit for U.S. journalists developed by the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, contains a set of four new tutorials. Coupled with case-study examples from across the country, the tutorials explain how to cover the wealth and income divide, economic development, nonprofits and charitable giving.

Grady professors and researchers will showcase the new tutorials at the Washington and Lee University conference, an inaugural effort funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that will focus on “The New American Poverty: Reporting the Recession’s Impact.” Officials from the Grady College, including Diane Murray, public service and alumni outreach director; Lisa Schnellinger, media trainer and developer; and Patricia Thomas, professor and Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, will present on panels and workshops at the conference. is a “…trail-blazing, indispensable contribution toward giving journalists the tools they need to illuminate the causes and cures of contemporary poverty,” said conference chair Edward Wasserman, who holds the Washington and Lee Knight Chair in Journalism Ethics. “The tutorials are thorough, imaginative, patient and immensely well informed and provide reporters with the detailed guidance they need to get to work on tomorrow’s news.”

The latest version joins existing tutorials and case studies on covering poverty, with such topics as education, housing, politics and health care. Journalists also can subscribe to a weekly story idea memo. was funded under a pair of research grants through a joint initiative of UGA’s Office of the Vice President of Public Service and Outreach and the University of Georgia Research Foundation. The new tutorials and case studies were written by Schnellinger, the conference’s executive who was co-principal investigator on the latest grant, along with Murray and John F. Greenman, Grady’s Carter Distinguished Professor of Journalism. Greenman, Murray and Schnellinger are members of the conference’s steering committee.

“In keeping with the service mission of the University of Georgia, we are pleased to apply our knowledge and resources of this subject to assist journalists in improving their coverage of this important topic,” Murray said.

“Poverty coverage isn’t just about ‘poor people’ anymore-it cuts across a broad swath,” Schnellinger added. “The economic crisis is a big story, and covering all the impacts might seem overwhelming for local reporters. So, these tutorials are meant to help journalists get answers to some essential questions and write interesting, data-rich stories about the answers.”

Using these tutorials, Schnellinger said journalists can discover:

· how wealth and income are distributed in their community;
· how nonprofits are serving local people in need;
· if charitable giving and philanthropy address problems in their community; and,
· if federal economic development dollars are putting local citizens to work.

Schnellinger developed the tutorials and case studies in collaboration with working journalists.

“We paid special attention to finding and using data as a way to understand these topics, form questions, and find sources,” Schnellinger said. “And in the end, our collective learning turned up some great local stories.”

UGA Grady College of Journalism
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, digital and broadcast journalism, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.