Co-directing Georgia College’s student television newscast taught senior Will Woolever to think fast and juggle many duties.
“You always have to be ready for things to go wrong, because it’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when. It really prepares you to handle a problem as it happens,” said Woolever, a mass communication major graduating in December.
Woolever wore many hats at GC360 News. He started as a floor director his first year, then stayed two more semesters as playback operator and co-director.
Most students are happy to put the rigorous coursework behind them. But a few, like Woolever, catch the journalism bug. Now he’s finishing an internship at the Union-Recorder, Milledgeville’s daily newspaper, where he'll remain as staff writer after graduation.
His capstone project for Dr. James Schiffman’s Enterprise Journalism class landed Woolever the internship. He did video, audio tapes and a research paper on Milledgeville’s former Central State Hospital – highlighting sane patients interned there wrongfully.
Woolever was also instrumental in reporting the city council tax-fund scandal that rocked Milledgeville in 2015. Students televised a live debate between candidates for mayor that year, and Schiffman said Woolever was “in the thick” of it.
“Will is a talented writer who has a nose for a story and the determination to get to the bottom of any given situation,” said Schiffman, an assistant professor of mass communication who worked for the Wall Street Journal and CNN.
Woolever grew up in Norcross reading the daily newspaper, intrigued by world events. He always knew he wanted to be a journalist but thought his future would be in broadcast. A “change of heart” came senior year, when Woolever realized he wanted to develop his talent for writing.
The newspaper business has been in decline, but Woolever believes there’ll always be a market for good story telling.
“A lot of people have been concerned about the fall of newspapers and rightly so,” he said. “But I would argue the demand for news stories is not going to go away. It’s just moving to a different medium. Like anything else, it’s being changed by this age of information we live in.”
Woolever credits GC360 and Schiffman’s high standards for prepping him to work any job in the journalism field.
“Dr. Schiffman expects a lot from his GC360 kids. As well he should,” Woolever said. “Not only do you learn the fundamentals of shooting and videography but also how the equipment itself works and how to stage a whole production and what makes a visually-appealing package. It taught me to see things from a journalistic perspective.
“Obviously, doing something so labor intensive,” he said, “I feel GC360 is absolutely the most worthwhile class I took while at Georgia College.”
As a first-year student, Woolever said he was “shy to a fault.” By interacting with professors, making friends, being active in his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and playing bass guitar in a local band – he changed into a confident person unafraid to step out of his comfort zone and take risks.
Woolever dreams of working for Backpacker magazine, so he can combine his love of the outdoors with his love for writing.
But, for now, he regrets seeing college come to an end.
“The environment and the culture we have here is unparalleled,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic four years. I sincerely wish I could do it all again.”