Staff Spotlight: Lori Johnston
By: Ashley Byer
Lori Johnston is one of the most admired professors in Grady, as she is one of the first professors that journalism and public relations majors meet. Johnston teaches Reporting and Writing Across Platforms (JOUR 3190) every semester, as well as a special topics course on religion reporting. She has also taught feature writing and investigative reporting classes.
Before Johnston became a full-time lecturer in 2019, she taught part-time for more than 12 years. During that time, she was also a freelance writer for regional and national news outlets through her company, Fast Copy News Service. Along with teaching, she now is also the director of the Journalism Writing Lab within the Cox Institute Program.
As JOUR 3190 is one of the first courses that all journalism and PR majors are required to take, Johnston often teaches students who are just beginning in their major and may have little experience. She helps her students set the foundation for journalistic writing and obtain skills that will help them in future courses, internships and jobs. Some of the key takeaways from her class are learning to identify newsworthy stories, report with context, land and perform interviews and use important tools like the AP Stylebook.
One of the biggest pieces of advice Johnston gives to her classes is to consume the news.
“Journalism matters and knowing what is going on in our community and the world will help you be more informed as you write stories, work with the media as PR professionals and have conversations with professors, friends and family,” Johnston said.
Johnston provides many opportunities for students to learn and gain experience with this material. She assigns timed, in-class assignments that force students to adapt to the fast-paced nature of the journalism world. She also assigns weekly AP Style quizzes, helping to ingrain these rules into students’ brains. At the end of the course, students get to put their knowledge to the test by executing a profile on a real subject and including all of the elements they learned throughout the semester.
“When it all comes together with a published story with multimedia on their digital portfolio, it’s one of my favorite days,” Johnston said about the final project.
As well as being an engaging professor inside the classroom, Johnston strives to create relationships with her students outside of class. Each semester, she invites her classes over to her house for a home-cooked meal. She also makes an effort to go to events such as Dawgs With The Dean, and one of her favorite days is celebrating her former students at graduation.
One of Johnston’s goals each month is to read from a writer (novelist or journalist) that is new to her. She would love for anyone to email her with suggestions at ljohns(at)uga.edu. To learn more about Johnston and her career, check out her personal page on Grady’s website.
Don’t forget Peer Mentorship closes today, be sure to check this out! It’s a great opportunity to connect with those on E-board!