SPJ Georgia to hold workshop on May 10


Welcome to the new charter members of SPJ Georgia! Don’t forget that you can join and further your journalistic ambitions and the industry in Georgia.

  • David Armstrong, Emory University, senior lecturer/journalist in residence
  • Mike C. Cavender, Radio Television Digital News Association, executive director
  • Jim Crane, CNN, executive director of standards and practices
  • James Garvey, journalist
  • Mirandi Hitti, WebMD, senior health editor
  • J Kenley Jones, journalist
  • Jamie Jorgensen, CNN
  • Sissel McCarthy, Emory University, lecturer
  • Barbara C. Myers, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Georgia, manager of marketing and PR
  • Sunshine Janda Overkamp, Overcamp-Smith, chairman
  • Marie Powers, BioWorld Today, staff writer
  • Mary H. Silver, The Epoch Times, editor
  • Ward H. Silver, Southwind Digitial Productions, Inc., CEO/founder
  • Joe Sterling, CNN Wire, news desk editor
  • Paul Melvin Troop, self-employed journalist
  • Edward Van Horn, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, executive director
  • Tom Walker, journalist
  • John White, journalist
  • Dr. Patricia Forsythe, retired, P.L.A.S.E., founder
  • Randall H. Harber, retired, CNN, news editor
  • Robert G. Knowles, retired, Georgia Perimeter College, senior instructor
  • Brenda V. Lloyd, retired, freelance
  • Leon R. Robbins, retired, Robbins Advertising, Inc.
  • Edward Aebischer, retired
  • Jerry Crane, retired
  • Larry Dan Hamilton, retired
  • Delos L. Knight, retired
  • John Webster Sheahan, retired
  • Ronald David Manson, retired
  • Spencer Ragsdale, retired
  • Albert Skaggs, retired
  • Paul Melvin Turnispseed, retired



Phelps Hawkins

Meet Phelps Hawkins, an assistant professor of journalism at Savannah State University and the newest SPJ Georgia board member. Hawkins has served as Asia operations manager and foreign editor for NBC News. He told SPJ Georgia about his travels, why he got into education and what it was like to report at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

You have reported in 29 countries. Which one sticks out in your mind and why?

Tough choice. My favorite place to be is Southeast Asia, Thailand especially, because of the lovely people. People generally are so fascinating, but the Thais, the Filipinos and the Balinese are such warm, welcoming, generous hosts that one immediately feels the calm and beauty of their presence. From a news perspective, I’ll never forget being at Tiananmen Square for its drama, the clash of generations and ideologies, the overlay of millenia of history along with emerging individualism (which we like to call capitalism due to our misplaced focus on money). The rumble of the tanks at night, the righteous fervor of the students in the Square, our certain sense that it couldn’t last, the moments of sheer courage, staying at a hotel owned by the Red Army and having the rooftop satellite dish turned off only to send our techs up at night to turn it back on, the disappearance of a staff member for three days after going for a walk between long editing sessions only to be picked up by the Secret Police…There’s nothing like being on the ground as history is made.

What is the importance of international reporting? How has it changed since you began in it?

Fundamentally, it reveals new things about ourselves as it tells us about what’s happening in the world around us. But frankly, in this increasingly mercantilist country, it’s a hard sell. When one travels the world actually listening to other people, you quickly get the widespread confusion about today’s America. In many places, you hear a sense of disillusionment, if not hatred, of America; but some closer questioning, I’ve found, usually brings out a key dichotomy: They really dislike and distrust the U.S. government, but still love the American people, largely for our generous spirit, enthusiasm and compassion. This is much different from 40 years ago when we were absolutely “the light at the end of the tunnel.”

How did you get into journalism education? What is different about being a professor vs. being a reporter?

In management, I’ve always thought of myself as a “closet teacher;” I work the hallways and the editing suites with an eye to how we all can​ do this better. I think this comes from having a university professor as a father, who taught in the esoteric area of art history, yet was twice recognized with student-voted prizes for excellent teaching, one coming with $1,000, which was real money back in the 1960’s. I always knew at some point in my career, I wanted to teach and am annoyed that I waited so long. It is typical of my journalistic tendency to want to work “for the little guy” that when I started teaching I focused on places where students were struggling to catch up to “the haves.” So I started at a small Catholic college in Philadelphia that catered largely to inner-city, minority, first-time college attendees in their families, then moved to the American University in Bulgaria serving students from 40 different, largely post-Communist countries, and finally now to Savannah State University, an HBCU (historically black college/university), where I hope my Ivy League education and 45 years of experience will help transform their prospects.

-Adina Solomon, SPJ Georgia interim board member



May 10: SPJ Georgia and the Eatonton Messenger newspaper are co-sponsoring a thought-provoking journalism workshop, Nuts & Bolts Journalism, in Eatonton, Ga. It will have talks on open records and digital journalism, and a boxed lunch is included in the admission price. Click here for more info and to register.

Sept. 4-6: SPJ Excellence in Journalism national conference is held in Nashville, Tenn. Watch for more details on SPeachJ, Facebook and Twitter.



Haisten Willis
Haisten Willis

SPJ Georgia member Haisten Willis has become education reporter at the Marietta Daily Journal. Congratulations!

There is a part-time editor job opening (for adults) at VOX Teen Communications, an Atlanta nonprofit organization that works with aspiring teen writers to produce the city’s only uncensored publication by teens, for teens. For more info and to apply, click here.

If you would like to share news about an SPJ Georgia member, please email spjgeorgia@gmail.com.



On April 1 at Chocolate Coffee Shop in Atlanta, the SPJ Georgia interim board met. Sharon Dunten, Ruksana Hussain, Jason Meucci and Devika Rao were in attendance.

The following are highlights of the April 1 interim board meeting:

  • There have been 25 new SPJ Georgia members since Jan. 1, 2014.
  • An SPJ Georgia logo will be designed and custom posters will be put in newsrooms.
  • There will be giveaways for members at events.
  • In order to connect more with youth, board members discussed the details of an essay contest for college students with a prize of a partial scholarship to the SPJ Excellence in Journalism conference in September.
  • Board members need to start rewriting SPJ national’s bylaws for the SPJ Georgia chapter.
  • Phelps Hawkins was approved as a board member.

The next board meeting will be held in Atlanta on May 6, location to be decided. Please contact spjgeorgia@gmail.com if you want to attend the meeting. Please note that all records are open to SPJ Georgia members upon request.


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