The CCJ Team

Tim Regan-Porter 
CCJ/Executive Director 

Tim Regan-Porter

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.

In addition to managing the Center and its partnerships, Regan-Porter teaches Data Journalism, Hacking the Media (Ruby, HTML, CSS and JavaScript for journalists), Media Entrepreneurship, Journalistic Insight into the Community, and Media and Society. In 2014, he was one of 70 technologists from 37 countries selected to participate in Al Jazeera's inaugural Media in Context Hackathon. In 2015, he traveled to Cambodia to document a Mercer on Mission clinic ran by an interdisciplinary team of medical, nursing, pharmacy and undergraduate students.

 

Jay Black 

CCJ/Assistant Director & JMS/Associate Professor of Journalism

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.

  

Debbie Blankenship

CCJ/Journalist in Residence & Newsroom Coordinator

Debbie BlankenshipDebbie 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.


Laura Fong

CCJ/Journalist in Residence

Laura FongLaura Fong joined the Center for Collaborative Journalism in 2015 as a journalist in residence. Previously, she taught at Kent State University, where she earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in visual journalism.

Fong is a storyteller with a passion for photojournalism and videography. Much of her work focuses on reporting and documenting the lives of, and issues facing, veterans and aboriginal people. 

Her first documentary feature, No Greater Love—telling the story of the legendary No Slack Battalion, 101st Airborne, through the eyes of a U. S. Army chaplain armed with a camera—debuts at the Boston Film Festival in September 2015 and has been accepted to numerous other festivals.

Fong has been a freelance correspondent for The Washington Post, The Akron Beacon Journal, The Massillon Independent, The Canton Repository, The Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier, and College 101 magazine. She was the Walt D. Clarke Fellow at WKSU radio, the NPR affiliate in Kent, Ohio.

Fong was one of four finalists for the prestigious Earl Jones Award for journalism and entrepreneurship. She was awarded the National Press Photographer Association’s Bob Baxter Scholarship, the Ohio News Photographer Association’s Larry Fullerton Scholarship and (five times) the Kent State’s Paula Slimak Scholarship. She also received the Murray Powers Award for Outstanding Photography, an SPJ award for Best Online Multimedia Story, a Cleveland Press Club for Best Series (statewide) and Kent State’s Honors College Fellowship and Walt Clarke Fellowship.  


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.

 

Meg Donahue

CCJ/Editorial Assistant

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). 



Cynthia Gottshall

Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies/Chair

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.

John Chalfa

Mercer University, Department of Journalism and Media Studies/Professor

John ChalfaJohn Chalfa is professor of journalism and media studies. He teaches Digital Storytelling, Documentary Storytelling, Media Curation, The Visual Story and other media studies and production courses. Chalfa his B.A. from St. Andrews Presbyterian College; his M.A. from University of Georgia and Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.










Sherrie Marshall

The Telegraph/Executive Editor

Sherrie MarshallSherrie Marshall has been the editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga. since February 2001. She is responsible for the daily newsroom operations. Before joining the Telegraph, she was Deputy Managing Editor at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, where she worked for 22 ½ years. Sherrie grew up in Nashville, Tenn. She received a B.A. in English from Spelman College, Atlanta, Ga., and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Middle Georgia Association of Black Journalists, and the Georgia AP News Council. She is also a member of the Macon Rotary and on the board of Girl Scouts of Middle Georgia.




Michael Caputo

Georgia Public Broadcasting/Macon Bureau Chief

Michael CaputoAfter more than 20 years as a print and broadcast reporter, manager and producer, Caputo has returned to a place where storytelling is a day-to-day goal. As Macon bureau chief for Georgia Public Broadcasting, he works with a team of journalists to tell the stories of Middle Georgia. He hosts All Things Considered and helps with an innovative effort to teach young journalists about the craft through the Center for Collaborative Journalism on the campus of Mercer University.

Before Georgia Public Broadcasting, Caputo worked in St. Paul, Minnesota for MPR and then APM as part of the Public Insight Network. The initiative created a deeper relationship with the audience to inform journalism. Caputo also produced radio pieces and talk show segments in Minnesota. 

Prior to that, he worked as television news director for WXXI in Rochester, New York, where he hosted a weekly TV public affairs show and produced radio work. Caputo had been a print reporter prior to WXXI in Rochester; at the Democrat and Chronicle, where he covered government and political races, eventually writing a political column.


Josephine Bennett

Georgia Public Broadcasting/Station and Community Engagement Manager 

Josephine BennettJosephine Bennett is station and community engagement manager at Georgia Public Broadcasting Macon. 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.