The CCJ Team
Debbie Blankenship studied graphic communications and psychology as an undergraduate and received her graduate degree in Mass Communications from the University of Georgia. At Georgia, she was news editor of the award-winning, five-day-a-week student newspaper The Red & Black. She went on to work for publications in South Carolina and Georgia and won awards in news and feature writing in the annual state press association competitions.
She later worked for former U.S. Congressman Jim Marshall, D-Ga., and specialized in veterans’ issues while continuing to freelance for Macon-area publications.
Blankenship joined the Center for Collaborative Journalism in 2013 as journalist in residence and newsroom coordinator. She coordinated and produced stories for the Center’s first community engagement project, “Macon in the Mirror.” The project won numerous awards including first place in the Community Service category and second place for Best Online News Project. “Macon in the Mirror” also was a finalist for the McClatchy President’s Award for Journalism.
Blankenship currently teaches core journalism-production classes and oversees student work in our partner newsrooms.
Jay Black, Ph.D
Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies/Chair
James Eric (Jay) Black is assistant director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism, the Schumann endowed professor in writing for the media, and associate professor at Mercer University. His background includes radio, television, magazine, newspapers and movies, both domestic and international.
Black created both the first student run college newspaper and American student run radio program in China. His many awards include the National Association of Teacher of English Award for Superior Writing, The Roberta Kevelson Scholarship Award from the Semiotic Society of America, and The Atlanta Olympic Committee’s Olympic Force Award for Superior Community Service.
Black received his Ph.D. in Public Communication from Georgia State University in 2012, and his Masters from the University of Kansas in Journalism Management in 1998. His book on Walt Kelly is expected to be published in 2016, and he is currently working on a book on Chinese media from the perspective of Chinese media professionals. He is also published in numerous other academic journals and publications.
Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies/Chair
Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies
Dr. Michele Prettyman Beverly is a scholar of film, media and African American film and visual culture. Currently an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Mercer University, Dr. Beverly teaches courses in digital storytelling, and race, gender and media, southern film and screenwriting, among others. Her work has been presented at diverse forums including the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the Transforming Public History Conference, the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP), the World Picture Conference, the National Communication Association, and the National Council of Black Studies. Dr. Beverly has published work in a range of journals and online platforms including: Black Camera (An international journal of film), the literary journal Callaloo, liquid blackness: a research project on blackness and aesthetics and In Media Res: A Media Commons Project. She is both a contributor and a member of the editorial board for ‘liquid blackness.’
In 2017, Dr. Beverly was a co-recipient of a Mercer QEP grant which funded a digital storytelling project entitled: “Making Black Lives Visible at Jarrell Plantation.” The project was a collaboration with the history department which helped students develop a short film based on their research about a plantation in Middle Georgia.
CCJ/Journalist in Residence
Adam Ragusea is journalist in residence at Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism.
Ragusea is “one of public radio’s leading internal critics” (Nieman Lab) and host of the podcast "The Pub" for Current, the public media trade publication. He is often heard reporting stories for public radio shows, including NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, NPR/WBUR's Here & Now, APM's Marketplace, and PRI/WNYC's The Takeaway. A musician by training, Ragusea also writes about music for such publications as Slate and NME in addition to his work contributing local reports to Georgia Public Broadcasting and The Telegraph newspaper of Macon, Georgia.
Ragusea has earned numerous awards for his reporting, including a 2014 national Edward R. Murrow Award.
At Mercer, Ragusea teaches introductory and advanced journalism and media production classes. Previously, he served as Macon bureau chief for Georgia Public Broadcasting (2012-2014), associate producer/reporter/ host at WBUR in Boston (2008-2012), and announcer/reporter/interim news director at WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana (2005-2008).
Prior to his career in journalism, Ragusea studied music composition at The Eastman School of Music, Penn State, and Indiana University. His chamber work "Jiahu" won Columbia University's Joseph H. Bearns Prize in Music in 2004. Much of the music Ragusea uses in his radio productions is original, and he continues to create and post music in various forms at soundcloud.com/aragusea.
Ragusea lives with his wife, YA author Lauren Morrill, their baby son Freddie and dog Lucy in the historic Vineville neighborhood of Macon, Georgia.
Meg Donahue is editorial assistant at the Center for Collaborative Journalism and helped launch the Center in 2012.
Donahue has been a freelance journalist for over a decade, writing and editing for local, regional and international publications. Her experience encompasses hard news, entertainment, fashion, dining and sports reporting, research and feature writing for publications as diverse as Patch, Atlanta Magazine, Paste Magazine, Newcomer Magazine, Forsyth Herald and John’s Creek Herald. Donahue has also been active in social media and digital technology for most of her career.
Sonya Green joined the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University as Engagement Reporter. In this role, Sonya works with partners, The Telegraph, Georgia's third-largest daily newspaper and Georgia Public Broadcasting, the third-largest public broadcaster in the country based on population reach. Prior to this position, Sonya had the honor of being selected for the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan where she researched how language, attitudes and approaches in journalism narratives can perpetuate stereotypes about race, class and identity. During her time at the University she delivered keynote speeches, served on panels and moderated discussions on race and media issues.
Before attending the prestigious fellowship, Sonya served as the Interim Assistant General Manager at 91.3 KBCS radio station in Bellevue/Seattle, WA. Green worked at the station for eight years where she also held the title of News Director, Managing Producer and Talk Show host. As the News Director, Green led the station as the station collaborator for the Association of Independents in Radio project, Localore: Finding America. A series produced for the project earned the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, a national award given by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Prior to her public media experience, Green was on the commercial side of things working for local ABC affiliate television stations in Seattle and Denver. She also wrote feature articles for a regional magazine, In the Black, while in Denver.
Sonya is the Board President for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, NFCB. She is a former media advisory board member for the South Seattle Emerald. She was awarded Woman of the Year by the Bellevue chapter of the Business and Professional Women in 2011 for her professional and personal commitment engaging diverse communities.
CCJ/WMUB News Director
Amyre Makupson is the WMUB news director. An eight-year veteran of television news, Amyre has worked nearly every job within the news industry including evening anchor, reporter, producer, photographer and editor. She comes to Center for Collaborative Journalism after spending 4 years serving as a primary evening anchor at a local television news station.
As the News Director at WMUB and the Center for Collaborative Journalism, Amyre will be responsible for managing and instructing journalism students involved with the school’s station, as well as students who are interning at local news affiliates. You will also see her television reports both on WMUB and our media partners though the Knight Foundation.
Amyre is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in journalism in 2004. She went on to complete her Master’s Degree at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, in 2006, in Communications.
Amyre is from Detroit, MI, where her family still lives. She has one son, Myles. Although an avid Detroit sports fan, she loves cheering on the Mercer Bears.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Maddox served as an engineer at WMAZ for more than a decade. Prior to that he was assistant chief engineer for Georgia Public Broadcasting. He is licensed by the FCC and certified by the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
Georgia Public Broadcasting/Assistant News Director
Jennifer Burk is senior editor of The Telegraph and macon.com. She joined the newspaper in 2006 as a reporter and has covered higher education, Bibb County government and general assignment in Houston County. Over the years, she's also held numerous editing roles including Houston County editor and digital editor. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a major in Newspapers.
Also see another important part of our team, our National Journalism Advisory Board.