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.
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.
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.
Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies/Chair
The Telegraph/Executive Editor
Georgia Public Broadcasting/Station and Community Engagement Manager
Tim Regan-Porter is the founding executive director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism. The Center—a partnership between Mercer University, The (Macon) Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Peyton Anderson Foundation—trains students to be journalists in the digital age by adapting the “teaching hospital” model of education. The New York Times called this initiative “one of the nation's boldest journalism experiments.”
Previously, Regan-Porter was president and co-founder of Paste Magazine, the award-winning entertainment title that became the 3rd-largest music magazine in the country. Recognized as a “C-Level Visionary” in the Folio 40, Regan-Porter architected and directed a website that trailed only Rolling Stone among print competitors, conceived and developed the viral phenomenon Obamicon.me, oversaw a successful print-to-digital transition, and led social media efforts. Industry magazine Min placed Paste in the top five among all magazines in social media activation and a Cornell University study cited Paste’s Twitter presence as one of the 100 most-influential (ahead of The Washington Post, Los Angles Times, MSNBC, ABC News and Oprah). Paste was a three-time finalist for General Excellence in the National Magazine Awards. Regan-Porter won GAMMA awards for a feature and an editorial, and the Paste website won GAMMA awards for Best Magazine Website and Folio’s award for Best Entertainment Website. Regan-Porter wrote numerous cover stories for Paste, appeared regularly on CNN Headline News, and co-hosted a weekly radio show in Atlanta.
Prior to Paste, Regan-Porter spent 10 years in web development and consulting at several firms, including IBM’s e-business National Practice where he managed the engineering teams on some of IBM’s largest projects. He majored in economics and math, with a history minor, at Olivet Nazarene University and has done graduate work in business, economics and math at Georgia State University, University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), and University of Georgia.
Also see another important part of our team, our National Journalism Advisory Board.