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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Georgia Public Broadcasting/Assistant News Director
Also see another important part of our team, our National Journalism Advisory Board.