Campus News Society & Culture

New America Media director to visit UGA’s Grady College

New America Media director to visit UGA’s Grady College

Athens, Ga. – Sandy Close, an Academy Award winner who has also won a MacArthur Foundation “genius award,” will visit the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication on Tuesday, March 6, to discuss changing times in the news business and the influence of ethnic and youth media.

Close, now executive director of New American Media, will talk about “New Voices in the Global Conversation: Ethnic and Youth Media Speak Out,” at 12:15 p.m. in the Drewry Room. A light lunch will be served. The event is cosponsored by Grady and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend.

“Sandy Close is one of the most interesting and charismatic figures in journalism today,” said Patricia Thomas, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism at the Grady College. “This is her first trip to Grady and I hope it marks the beginning of a fruitful collaboration.”

Close launched New America Media, formerly known as New California Media, in 1996 to bring ethnic and youth media together in one news service. NAM is the country’s first and largest national collaboration of ethnic news organizations, aiming to promote their editorial visibility and economic viability. NAM produces a weekly TV show, awards program, and an inter-ethnic media exchange and Web site.

Close has been interested in youth media since she covered the work of lower income and incarcerated youth writers for Pacific News Service. Her engagement with ethnic media soared as she realized the limitations of being a monolingual reporter in a rapidly diversifying nation.

Shrinking circulation figures at major metropolitan daily newspapers are seen as signs that the news business is in decline, Thomas noted. But surveys by NAM indicate vigorous growth in publications and broadcast outlets covering specific communities, which may be ethnic enclaves in metropolitan areas or holographic communities united by age or language.

“Grady’s mission is preparing students to lead all types of news organizations in a changing environment,” Thomas said.

After graduating from the University of California-Berkeley in 1964, Close moved to Hong Kong and worked as the China editor for the Far Eastern Economic Review. Upon returning to the U.S., she founded the Flatlands newspaper in Oakland, Calif. She became executive director of the Pacific News Service in 1974, turning it into one of the richest sources of literary voices and analytical ideas in the media world.

In 1991 she founded “YO!” (Youth Outlook), a collaboration between writers and young people that helped youth speak out on critical issues facing their generation. In 1996 she developed “The Beat Within,” a weekly newsletter designed to provide an outlet for the thoughts, stories, opinions and ideas of incarcerated young people. “The Beat Within” also conducts writing workshops in juvenile facilities.

In 1995, Close’s work in journalism was recognized with a MacArthur Foundation “genius award.” In 1997, she won the Academy Award for best short documentary for a film she co-produced called Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien.

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication provides seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication 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, visit