The CCJ Team

Debbie Blankenship 
CCJ/Director

Debbie Blankenship headshotDebbie 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

Jay BlackJames 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.

Cynthia Gottshall, Ph.D

Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies

Cynthia (Cindy) Gottshall is chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Mercer University. She is also the William Lee Davenport Chair in Communications. Gottshall teaches various film studies courses; Journalism and Media Ethics; Race, Gender and Media; and other courses examining media and society. Gottshall received her B.A. at the University of South Florida and her M.A. and Ph.D. at Northwestern University.
 
Michele Beverly, Ph.D

Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies

Dr. Michele Beverly

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 Callalooliquid 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.

Adam Ragusea

CCJ/Journalist in Residence

Adam RaguseaAdam 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.

Evey Wilson
CCJ/Journalist in Residence
Evey WilsonEvey Wilson in a journalist, photographer, and video producer. She studied Photojournalism and Religion at the University of Georgia and then worked as a photojournalist at a small, family-owned newspaper in Northern Indiana. Wilson got her Master’s from UNC-Chapel Hill as a Roy H. Park fellow, studying short documentary filmmaking and web design to give herself more tools to tell stories for the web. She made films for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and was recruited to work on a national criminal justice campaign for the AFL-CIO. Wilson spent nearly three years in Washington, DC working as a producer at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting where she shot short documentary films, facilitated education programs, curated exhibits in DC and New York, designed their most popular e-book Flight from Syria, and launched and grew our Instagram to more than 60k followers. For the past two years, she has freelanced in the Southeast, working for clients like the New Yorker, WABE, and Instagram.

 

Meg Donahue
CCJ/Project Specialist

Meg DonahueMeg 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.

Meg graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Creative Writing. After graduation, she lived in London while interning for Tatler Magazine (the world’s oldest magazine). 
 
CCJ/Engagement Coordinator/Reporter

Sonya GreenSonya 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.

Amyre Makupson

CCJ/WMUB News Director

Amyre MakupsonAmyre 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.

William "Rad" Maddox

CCJ/Broadcast Operations Manager WMUB

William C. Maddox 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.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Liz Jarvis Fabian
CCJ/Civic Reporting Senior Fellow

Liz Fabian  Veteran multimedia journalist Liz Jarvis Fabian has been on the frontlines of the headlines in Middle Georgia for more than 35 years. The former hurricane chaser and news anchor for The Weather Channel won numerous awards for spot news and writing both hard news and feature stories. In 2017, she was chosen by the Associated Press as Georgia’s Best Beat Reporter from among the state’s leading newspapers for her extensive live coverage of Hurricane Irma. Fabian has worked at all of Macon’s television stations in a variety of roles including news anchor, managing editor, reporter, weathercaster, producer, videographer and editor.

        A native of New York’s Long Island, Fabian moved south with her family to Milledgeville, Ga., while she was in high school. She began studying journalism at Georgia College where she received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in speech and drama.  She wrote for the campus newspaper, the Colonnade, and served as morning news director for the WXGC radio station.  Although she began working in television before graduation, her radio skills would later come in handy anchoring nightly newscasts for WSB radio in Atlanta and for the Mix in the Morning and NewsTalkCentral morning shows in Macon.

         While at WMAZ-TV, she earned numerous accolades for her live reporting during the Great Flood of ’94 and was recruited to provide satellite coverage of the aftermath of the Centennial Olympic Park Bombing for the Gannett (Tegna) broadcasting network. Before joining the Center for Collaborative Journalism, she served as The Telegraph’s premiere multimedia journalist and its first social media interactivity editor.  Her on-scene reporting of the Pactiv packaging plant fire and videos from the 2008 Mother’s Day tornado outbreak helped earn President’s Awards from the McClatchy corporation.  Liz considers her greatest honor to be nicknamed by her broadcast colleagues as “The most trusted journalist in all of Middle Georgia.”

Josephine Bennett

Georgia Public Broadcasting/Assistant News Director

Josephine Bennett
Josephine Bennett is an assistant news director for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Prior to that she served as the station’s bureau chief from 2006 to 2012.
 
While a journalist Bennett specialized in covering Georgia’s agriculture industry, and in 2011 was named the Georgia Peanut Commission’s “Media Person of the Year.” Josephine has also won numerous Associated Press awards and has appeared on NPR and the BBC.
 
Bennett was born in New York City and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended college at Brigham Young University where she majored in Broadcasting and worked at KBYU, the campus public television and radio station. After college she secured her first job at KDYL, an all-news radio station in Salt Lake City where she covered city and county government. After leaving Salt Lake City she returned to the Northeast where she worked in television production. 
 
She moved to Macon in 1991, baby daughter Grace in tow, when her husband Gordon came back to his hometown to work in a family business. After adding a son, Gordon V, to the family she spent many years volunteering in her community, restoring three older homes, and working as a freelance writer for Nickelodeon and TV Land.
 
In 2006, she returned to radio as a reporter for GPB covering all of Middle Georgia. Her loves include her family, writing, the beach, and volunteering in animal rescue. 

 

Also see another important part of our team, our National Journalism Advisory Board.