Archives for March 2016

REGRETTING THE ERRORS

By John McCosh

Some of the most wince-inducing corrections of my journalism career accompanied my snarkiest column writing.

One time a developer proposed a Gwinnett County neighborhood with “Mimosa” in the name within the boundaries of a former landfill. I wrote future residents would need more than a few of the subdivision’s namesake drinks when they found out what was underfoot. Turns out the subdivision land was carved out of the larger landfill property and was not part of the dump.

As a real estate columnist I wrote there needed to be a stronger word than “vacant” to describe a downtown Atlanta building that stood nearly empty 18 months after it opened. That building wasn’t doing well, but the vacant one was the nearly identical tower next door.

Some combination of rush to make deadline and carelessness in pursuit of a joke was to blame for both. I regret the errors laced with snark, but not as much as the handful of mistakes in more serious stories that I racked up over two decades as an Atlanta journalist.

The Atlanta Press Club is hosting a panel discussion on fact checking March 30, 2016 and I look forward to hearing how reporters avoid mistakes in this era of posting stories online moments after an event ends. Back in the olden days a line editor read my copy before at least two copy editors checked the factoids. Working without that safety net must be unnerving.

For the past eight years I’ve worked as a PR guy at Atlanta nonprofits and learned a different perspective on fact-checking, errors and corrections. I can usually sense which journalists are least likely to suffer through a correction by their careful interview technique and the follow up later.

Here are some tactics I associate with the most accurate reporters and publications:

  • Key points are confirmed with similar but reworded questions posed at different points in the interview.
  • Quotes and important facts are excerpted from the overall story and emailed to the source for confirmation prior to publication. The source doesn’t get pre-publication veto power over the excerpted material, just a chance to flag a factual error.
  • An independent fact checker contacts the source to verify numbers, assertions and other content central to the article’s point.

I associate that last tactic with Atlanta Magazine and other outlets with enough time between interview and publication to allow such meticulousness. But even with today’s pressure to be the first to post news online, it’s important to slow down enough to confirm spellings and to double check the numbers.

One thing I learned once I switched to the PR side is it’s not worth inflicting the pain of a correction request on a reporter if the mistake is minor and doesn’t hurt the reputation of my employer. I’ve let more than a few mistakes go uncorrected.

That includes the time a reporter with a national financial publication talked to me about a story and I got the sense she might quote me. She kept calling me “Josh” and when I thought it might run in the paper like that, I gently let her know it’s “John” although people turn my first and last name into a contraction all the time.

You can read the article by Googling “John McJosh.”

John McCosh is deputy communications director for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

 

Register now for the panel discussion on fact checking

When: March 30, 2016, 6:30-8:15 p.m.

Where: Commerce Club, 191 Peachtree Street

Cost: Free for members, $15 for non-members

Georgia First Amendment Foundation Issues Letter to Gov. Deal

GFAF LogoThe Georgia First Amendment Foundation has issues a letter to Governor Deal and Senators Kennedy, Miller, Dugan, Jones, Kirk and Hill regarding a portion of Senate Bill 367, which deals with sealed records. View the full letter here.

PANEL: What’s It Like To Be A Cop In America Today?

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DEADLINE EXTENDED: The Atlanta Press Club 2016 Awards of Excellence

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The Awards of Excellence recognize individual journalists for quality work that makes an impact. All journalists who either work for Atlanta news outlets or who are based in Atlanta are eligible to enter for an Award of Excellence and anyone is eligible to nominate a journalist for an Award of Excellence. All entries must be work completed in 2016.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17 AT 10 P.M.

The 2016 Awards of Excellence will be judged by members of the National Press Club based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of Content
  • Did it make an impact?
  • Demonstrated Reportorial Skill

Members of the Atlanta Press Club board of directors are not eligible to win. 

 

To enter or to nominate someone:

ENTRY FEES:

  • APC Members – $25 per entry
  • Nonmembers – $45 per entry

2016 Awards of Excellence Categories:

  • Print/Online, Daily – News or feature articles appearing in a daily publication
  • Print/Online, Non-Daily – News or feature articles appearing in regularly produced weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or one-off newspapers or magazines
  • TV Reporting – News or feature story appearing in a local or national newscast or program. Story should run no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Videography – Videography to support a news or feature story. Story should run no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Radio Reporting – News or feature story appearing on local or national radio. Story should run no longer than 15 minutes
  • Documentary/Series – A long-form look at a single issue in visual or audio format. Entry should run 15 minutes or longer.
  • Use of Sound – Quality sound use to support a news or feature broadcast, online or radio story.
  • Single Image Photo – News or feature photograph that supports or tells a story.
  • Photo Gallery – Photo story or collection of photographs that supports or tells a story.
  • Investigative Reporting – An investigative broadcast, print, online or radio story or series that had demonstrable impact.
  • The Rising Star Award – Outstanding talent from any medium, from a journalist under 30 years of age.
  • NEW FOR 2016: The News Innovation Award – presented to an organization or individual that used an innovative approach to report or disseminate news. Entries may include the use of technology or social media in a unique way, or the reporting of a story in a way that is unique to your or your organization. This entry must include a letter that demonstrates proof of innovation. This category will be judged by a team from the Google News Lab, which has a mission of fostering journalism innovation.
  • The Atlanta Press Club Impact Award -The winner of the APC Impact Award is a Georgian (not necessarily a journalist) who had a significant impact on the journalism profession in the previous calendar year and has furthered the mission of the APC, which is focused on fostering journalistic excellence and advancing the public’s understanding of a free press. This entry must include a letter that demonstrates proof of impact/results.

America Divided – What is the Media’s Role?

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WHAT
As President Trump and his administration get settled into office and begin implementing their agenda for the first 100 days, the country remains divided on issues such as immigration, abortion rights and “alternative facts.” Join the Atlanta Press Club for a discussion on Monday, February 20 that will focus on the unique challenges the press faces in a new political environment.

This event will be the first in a series as the Atlanta Press Club looks at issues impacting the country throughout 2017.

 

JOURNALISTS 
David Chalian
, CNN political director
Richard Fausset
, New York Times national correspondent
David Lewkowict, Fox News producer
Cam McWhirter, Wall Street Journal political reporter

Discussion Moderator:
Celeste Headlee, GPB Radio “On Second Thought” host

 

WHEN
Monday, February 20

11:30 a.m. – Registration
Noon – Lunch and Discussion
1:30 p.m. – Adjourn

 

WHERE
The Commerce Club
191 Peachtree Street NE, 49th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303

Dress at the Commerce Club is business attire.

The ticket price does not include parking. Parking is available in the 191 Building parking deck with entrances on Ellis Street and Peachtree Center Avenue. Discounted parking vouchers for this deck will be available for $5 after the event. Guests must bring the ticket they receive upon entering the deck to receive a discount. The Peachtree Center MARTA station is also very convenient.

 

SPONSORS
The Atlanta Press Club offers sponsorship opportunities and promotion for your company with this event. Please contact development director Carolyn Proffitt at cproffitt@atlpressclub.org or 404.228.5392 for details and benefits.

 

R.S.V.P.
This luncheon is open to the public.

Working journalists who wish to cover this event but not partake in lunch may attend for free. Reservations are still required and can be made by calling 404-577-7377 or emailing info@atlpressclub.org.

APC Member Prices
General admission ticket – $30
Table of 10 – $300
Sponsor table of 10 with table sign & program listing – $325

Nonmember Prices
General admission ticket – $40
Table of 10 – $400
Sponsor table of 10 with table sign & program listing – $450

 

Tickets and tables may be purchased here or by calling 404-577-7377. Payment must accompany reservations, and there is a 48 business-hour cancellation policy.

Writing It Right

The Atlanta Press Club and Kennesaw State University Master of Professional Writing Program Present:
 

WRITING IT RIGHT

 MAPW logo

Session 1: Pitch Perfect: How to Hit a Home Run with Your Story Ideas
Presented by H. M. Cauley

Pitching is an essential skill, whether you are a freelancer or staff writer.  This seminar will explore the basics of composing the perfect profile that gets your project noticed and published. Cauley’s pitches have been accepted by numerous publications, and her seminar will focus on the elements that made those pitches successful.  Participants will explore the “pitch” through the various lenses, including the significance of the topic and its contexts.  The seminar will also focus on the importance of audience and medium, key elements to grabbing an editor’s attention.

Presenter Bio: An Atlanta-based freelancer since 1990, Cauley has written on a range of topics for local and national publications and is the author of three Atlanta/Georgia guidebooks. She is a 2012 graduate of the MAPW program and one of Kennesaw State’s first Clendenin Fellows, and expects to graduate in May with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Georgia State.

 

Session 2: Words Count: Editing for Clarity and Compression
Presented by Lynn Salsi

Lynn Salsi loves wrestling with sentences. This workshop grows out of her extensive experience as a journalist, biographer, folklorist and professor.  Salsi notes that “self-editing separates the pros from the novices.” In this workshop, participants will learn how to edit for concise and clear sentences and how to organize paragraphs for effective copy-fitting. This seminar will also focus on compression, thinking in synopsis form and the importance of word choice.  The workshop will provide a detailed content analysis showing how the same sentence can be written in many different ways with many different outcomes.  The workshop is designed to prepare participants to write effectively while adhering to the exact, assigned word count. 

Presenter Bio: Lynn Salsi is a full-time writer, teacher, speaker, and storyteller. She has a passion for Southern subjects and brings a unique point of view to every presentation. Salsi received the American Library Association Notable Book Award; she is also a Pulitzer Nominee. She is best known for her work on the Jack stories, Appalachian stories, southern history, and narrative across media.

 

Session 3: Shaping Language: Getting Grammar Right
Presented by Jeanne Bohannon

From participial phrases to nominative absolutes, this seminar will focus on combining technical and creative skills to address multiple audiences while developing voice and monitoring tone. Participants will have a chance to apply a variety of techniques using unorthodox and entertaining methods to learn skills that not only improve communication but also lead to more satisfying lives. By gaining an understanding of the social implications of grammatical choices, participants will develop a new appreciation for the nuts and bolts of the English language.

Presenter Bio: Jeanne Law Bohannon is an assistant professor of English and early career distinguished faculty at Kennesaw State University. She teaches courses in rhetorical grammar, research methods, and digital rhetoric. Her research interests include conducting empirical studies in information literacies; performing linguistic and rhetorical recoveries of underrepresented populations; and evaluating democratic-engagement learning in college writing.

 

WHEN
Saturday, February 25
8:30 a.m. – Registration
9 a.m. – Session 1
10:15 a.m. – Session 2
11:30 a.m. – Session 3
12:30 p.m.  – Workshop ends

Food and beverage will not be provided, please feel free to bring your own!
 

WHERE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
223 Perimeter Center Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30346

 

R.S.V.P.
$20 Members, $40 Nonmembers 

Register online or call us at 404-577-7377.

Dick Pettys Portrait Unveiled at Capitol Press Corps

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A ceremony was held today to unveil a portrait of 2015 Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame Inductee Dick Pettys, with his widow Stephanie Petty, friend Rep. Joe Wilkinson (who helped organize the event) and artist Dick Yarborough. The painting hangs in the Capitol Press Corps suite across from the AP bureau that Pettys ran for about three decades.

Startup and Media Mixer from Split and SPJ

Split, along with the Society of Professional Journalists GA, invite you a Startup and Media Mixer on Thursday March 24th, 2016 from 6:30-8:30.

Come meet and mingle with local startups in the brand-new technology space, Switchyards.

Startups of all different types will be ready to network and share their story.

Drinks and bites will be provided by Split.

 

WHEN
WHERE
Switchyards Downtown Club – 151 Ted Turner Drive Northwest Atlanta, GA 30303 
Please register here. 

SOLD OUT! Mayor Kasim Reed Discusses Plans for His Final Year In Office at the Atlanta Press Club

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This event is sold out. Please email info@atlpressclub.org to join the wait list.

 

WHAT
Mayor Kasim Reed will be the featured speaker at an Atlanta Press Club Newsmaker luncheon on Tuesday, February 28. Bank of America is the presenting sponsor for this event. 

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Program Sponsors:

ATT Logo 2015 

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Supporting Sponsors:

Gas South 2013

 

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WHEN
Tuesday, February 28
11:30 a.m. – Registration
Noon – Lunch and Remarks
1:15 p.m. – Adjourn

 

WHERE
The Commerce Club

191 Peachtree Street NE, 49th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303

Dress at the Commerce Club is business attire.

The ticket price does not include parking. Parking is available in the 191 Building parking deck with entrances on Ellis Street and Peachtree Center Avenue. Discounted parking vouchers for this deck will be available for $5 after the event. Guests must bring the ticket they receive upon entering the deck to receive a discount. The Peachtree Center MARTA station is also very convenient.

 

SPONSORS
The Atlanta Press Club offers sponsorship opportunities and promotion for your company with this event. Please contact development director Carolyn Proffitt at cproffitt@atlpressclub.org or 404-228-5392 for details and benefits.

 

R.S.V.P.
This luncheon is open to the public.

Working journalists who wish to cover this event but not partake in lunch may attend for free. Reservations are still required and can be made by calling 404-577-7377 or emailing info@atlpressclub.org.

APC Member Prices
General admission ticket – $30
Table of 10 – $300
Sponsor table of 10 with table sign & program listing – $325

Nonmember Prices
General admission ticket – $40
Table of 10 – $400
Sponsor table of 10 with table sign & program listing – $450

This event is sold out. Please email info@atlpressclub.org to join the wait list. There is a 48 business-hour cancellation policy.