Grant Johnson image


Media Arts and Design

Story written by Kate Peppiatt, '23

It all starts with an interview, an intense color-coded highlighting process, and two index cards. “There are planners and there are plungers,” Grant Johnson explains, “I’m a planner.”  When it comes to the writing process, Grant has his nailed down to a science: a science that has produced many successful articles for both The Breeze and The Fairfax Times. 

Grant is a sophomore double major in the School of Media Arts and Design’s Journalism program and Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication with minors in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Sports Communication. The success he has found in his journalism career is rooted in two things; “I love sports and I love to write,” Grant laughs. His two interests combined into a passion for sports journalism.

 In fact, originally conflicted over a choice between coming to JMU or Virginia Tech, Grant knows he made the right choice because of the support he has found within JMU’s journalism community. Grant also credits the Honors College, and specifically Dr. Davis, for giving him “the chance to be around, work with and learn with like-minded, driven people.” Additionally, Grant’s on-campus involvement with The Breeze (JMU’s student newspaper), the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Society of Professional Journalists have all given him space to explore his passions and refine his craft. 

Grant reflects that one of his most impactful experiences at JMU had been “the empowerment of having my own column” in The Breeze. Currently working at a copy editor, the only sophomore on the editorial staff, and a sports staff writer, Grant certainly leaves his mark on this publication. He first came up with the idea for his own column when he realized a gap in The Breeze’s coverage of health and wellness. 

Health and wellness first became a large part of Grant’s life during quarantine. Meditating and learning about nutrition helped keep him in a positive mindset during an extremely challenging time. Therefore, he realized JMU could benefit from a health and wellness column, especially because many JMU students are dedicated to “UREC, fitness culture and healthy dining options.” He pitched his idea to the editor-in-chief, and he got the green light. 

The first “A Wealth of Health” article was published on May 31, 2021. Over the summer, Grant wrote a weekly article and soon, “A Wealth of Health” began to trend on The Breeze website. Thus far, “A Wealth of Health” has covered topics like breathing, nutrition, sleep, starting to work out at UREC, and many others. He now publishes articles bi-weekly, and there are flyers around Harrison Hall, Miller Hall, SSC, and UREC that display his latest work.

As a sportswriter, Grant has also covered some important JMU events. When asked about his favorite article, Grant recalled an article he wrote about the JMU women’s golf team. His memory about an article published months ago is a testament to his dedication to journalism. His eyes lit up when he discussed the fact that a majority of the starters on the team were first-year students and the fact that it would be “really cool” if he could follow this team throughout his time at JMU. 

Outside of The Breeze, Grant’s involvement in the Society of Professional Journalists has also had an important impact on his career. In July, Grant earned the opportunity to attend the Student Leadership Institute in Indianapolis and another virtual program. Twenty-four students were chosen from across the country to attend this program dedicated to exploring leadership within the field of journalism. “I had two takeaways,” Grant explains, “I learned how within the newsroom I need to be better at confronting hostile situations … and also how to be way more adaptive.” Joking about his rigid writing process, Grant emphasizes that adaptability is an important skill for him to learn. 

While he was in Indianapolis, Grant remembers a game that they played. There were three different groups of people: a president, a vice president, and builders. The president was tasked with explaining an “amoebalike creature” to the vice president, who in turn relayed this message for the builders so they could construct the creature. Theorizing about the purpose of this exercise, Grant says, “there’s always going to be a disconnect between what people read and what is actually going on.” The builders only have an interpretation about what the creature looks like from what they heard from others; similarly, readers only know the stories that they get from the media. An important reminder for our daily lives, Grant emphasizes that quality journalism can used to hold people accountable for the truth in the fast spread of media that we see today. 

Grant is working at elevating his craft as a quality journalist, and one way he accomplished this task was through his summer work with The Fairfax Times. Grant originally got involved with his local newspaper through an internship program at his school. Although it got canceled − it was 2020 − Grant reached out independently of his school program and still got to work with The Fairfax Times the summer before his first year at JMU. Flash-forward to the summer of 2021, Grant is working as a sportswriter with a strict deadline. There was “a lot of responsibility on my plate,” he recalls. While at The Fairfax Times, Grant wrote about how COVID-19 impacted student athletes, the impact of COVID-19 in youth sports, the unlikely case of an athlete who had to choose between playing football or basketball in college, and a variety of other topics.

In the future, Grant hopes to continue shaping and refining his journalism capabilities. One of his long-term goals is to become a sportswriter for the Denver Broncos. He has a bright future ahead of him, of course, accompanied by his color-coded highlighters and index cards.

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