Happy Thanksgiving to SPJ Georgia members


SPJ’s Stephany Fisher says journalists need to value their skills

By Lauren Booker, for SPeachJ

Stephany Fisher photo
Stephany Fisher, co-anchor at CBS46 Atlanta News, is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Working through the 21st century’s journalism evolution, Stephany Fisher, co-anchor at CBS46 Atlanta News, said she has had to adapt to survive. She advises journalists to learn the necessary skills to continue to thrive in this industry.

“There was a time I did everything. I shot. I edited. I produced. I gave out assignments. I anchored. I reported,” Fisher said. “I think it is important as journalists to know how to do all of it.”

She said she feels like a survivor after enduring changes made at her current station of 11 years and the previous station she worked at in Portland, Oregon.

“I have watched so many friends and colleagues get fired, decide they can’t do it, (and) all different reasons for stepping away,” she said. “I just feel proud that I was able to do what I love to do…”

Her love of writing and telling stories is what she said drew her to broadcast journalism, yet there wasn’t a defining moment when she decided to choose a career in broadcast journalism.  Fisher said it is important for today’s journalists to be knowledgeable about the news, to understand the distribution processes and to know the news audiences.

“I think it is vital as journalists that we learn to take in the news, whether it be Twitter or the Wall Street Journal, and kind of know the process and know what to do with that information,” said Fisher. “Know what’s important. Then know how to relay it back to readers or viewers.” she said.

Journalists should also know how to manage online articles and to use social media, said Fisher. “I don’t think it (social media) will replace television. Just like television didn’t replace radio. I think it will run alongside it,” she said, “I don’t know how television broadcasts will look like in the next 20 years. I am thinking that the online aspect of it is only going to grow,” said Fisher.

Her roots in broadcast news started at an NBC station in Yakima, Washington, within her first internship. Fisher said working at her first professional broadcasting job prepared her more than college did. Even so, she said a cornerstone in news writing came from a college course where a teacher’s love for accuracy was vital. Fisher said the teacher would lower students’ grades a letter for grammatical and factual errors.

“Everything that I say on the air has to be factual and that course single-handedly prepared me for the challenges of news writing – whether I am writing my scripts with my anchor or as a reporter,” Fisher said, “That (course) really prepared me.”

By the way, her first internship resulted in her gaining her first job as a morning anchor and reporter. She remained in Yakima’s KNDO-TV for two years before moving to WYFF-TV in Greenville, South Carolina in 1994, where she stayed until 2000.  She returned back to the American northwest to KPTV-TV Portland, Oregon for three years before landing in Atlanta since 2003.

Even with a long career in broadcast journalism, Fisher said she feels unhappy about some changes in the journalism industry. “It can be discouraging. You feel like, well, if anybody can go and shoot it with their phone, what makes me special? They don’t need to hire me.”  Fisher said she encourages journalists to reconsider what makes them extraordinary in this profession:  Their unique skills as journalists.

Even within her own unique talents for the Atlanta news market, Fisher said she is always looking to improve. She said she loves her career and loves Atlanta.

“I just want to continue to do the best I can at what I am doing and change and adapt to the industry as best I can,’ said Fisher. She said she wants to be remembered as compassionate, fair and trustworthy to an interview, interviewees and viewers.

“I think it is something for someone to trust me with their stories, and I am humbled by that,” she said.  It is her hope that she does a good job every night as a respected storyteller for her Atlanta audience, says Fisher.

“And have the grace to know when it is time to hand the reigns to the next generation of journalists,” she said.

Fisher is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and said she enjoys reading The Quill, along with being a part of group who find the journalism career fascinating. “I thought it was important to be a part of a professional group that I feel ‘adds’ to the profession of journalism,” she said.

Outside of work, Fisher said she spends time with her two dogs, 15-year-old daughter and husband. She also said she finds the balance between work and her personal life by allotting time into her schedule.

“You carve out the time to do the things you want to do. This is all my daughter has known … is that I work at night and that this is what I do,” she said. “I get my time, my girl time, on the weekends with her, and I just find that balance.”

In what spare time she does have, Fisher said she also enjoys reading newspapers and books. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of her favorite books and “Fatal Vision” is a book she said she has reread.

“It is about a horrible murder but what I love about it is procedural writing. He is the role of a reporter, and he is reporting this case. It always sucks me in,” she said.

Fisher said her daily print reads include the Atlanta Journal Constitution, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Fisher was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in San Angelo, Texas and Spokane, Washington. She graduated from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication in 1991.



Musing of a News Anchor blog.

Below is a video sample of Stephany Fisher’s work for CBS46 Atlanta News on the Will-To-Live Foundation.

Lauren Booker

Lauren Booker is a journalism major at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to being a contributing writer for SPeachJ, she works as the associate news editor at The Signal newspaper at Georgia State. For over a year at The Signal, she has written online and print news articles on topics ranging from housing maintenance to state legislation. Lauren is also a student at Georgia State’s Honors College, member of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, Circle K International and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading articles and learning new things.


New board member brings excellence from Green Eyeshade awards

Curt Yeomans
Curt Yeomans, digital journalist, Clayton News Daily, will be a 2015 a member of the SPJ Georgia board of directors.

By Leah Jordan, for SPeachJ

Curt Yeomans, a digital journalist at the Clayton News Daily and the newest board member of Georgia’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter, boasts a wide array of reporting experience and a lengthy list of awards to boot. Even so, Yeomans will not fall short of fresh ideas to bring to SPJ Georgia’s table, either.

Yeomans said he’s excited to be a new SPJ Georgia board member to help the new chapter find its place in Georgia. One of his goals will include implementing a workshop about reporting on diversity. He said he sees issues daily involving diversity at his job in Clayton County. The entire country in general is becoming rapidly more diverse, he said.

“We need to be able to handle that, know how to approach that and deal with the communities… Not just report, but interact, too,” said Yeomans.

Yeomans’ awards in the 2014 Reporting – Small Dailies

Bryd quit as termination threat loomed

Starr ousted in structural shake up of county government

2013 Reporting – Small Dailies

Morrow mayor’s date decided in secret?

How did he get the inside scoops on those award-winning pieces?

Yeomans advises to simply never forget to ask the obvious questions.

“I think some people (journalists) take the wrong approach, assuming people have something to hide … ‘The ‘gotcha stories.’ Some people won’t even ask the question, they just assume they’re (the interviewee) not going to answer,” said Yeomans. “The truth is, the question was never asked,” he said.

Yeomans also said a lot of his journalistic motivation stems from “the rush” of the newsroom atmosphere and the research behind the stories.

“I like knowing things before everyone else does and telling people,” he said.

And that drive has paid off.

“In some ways, (the awards) are saying this is what matters. How the community responds is the most interesting and fun way to gauge that,” said Yeomans.

Yeomans started his journalism career at his college newspaper at the University of Southern Mississippi. Out of school, he accepted a job in Florida at the Daily Commercial and served as a sports reporter from 2005-2006. Later he was hired at the Clayton News Daily as an education reporter ––where he simultaneously works with the Henry Daily Herald, thanks to the two newspapers sharing an editor.  Yeomans has also worn other hats at the Clayton News Daily including as a government reporter, and now as a digital journalist.

He began his new digital position in May 2014 and said he is excited about the potential. Working with two different papers could be seen as a challenge to some, but the web provides his newsroom with valuable information regarding what the two demographics are most interested in, said Yeomans.

According to the newspapers’ website data, he said he has seen his online presence respond differently in two unique markets.  For example, the Clayton News Daily reacts to hard news, such as police crime and government corruption, while in contrast, the Henry Daily Herald reacts more to “community journalism.”  He said restaurant scores are almost always the most popular story in Henry, but will barely make the top 10 for Clayton.

“It’s a great tool. (Digital) tells you what kind of stories your community wants,” he said. “We kind of guessed that before. Now we can see.”



Leah Jordan
Leah Jordan

Leah Jordan is a senior at Georgia State University majoring in journalism and Spanish.  She is the president of the SPJ GSU student chapter and former copy editor and associate Arts & Living editor of GSU’s , The Signal.  Jordan interned at Modern Luxury, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and now, WSB-TV, where she has discovered a passion for broadcas

A thank you for the SPJ Georgia genesis

Sharon Dunten photo
Sharon Dunten, 2014 co-founder, SPJ Georgia; 2015 SPJ Georgia president

By Sharon Dunten, 2015 SPJ Georgia president

Close to a year ago SPJ Georgia Professional Chapter was conceived. Since last year’s Thanksgiving we gained over 50 members and enlisted an incredible and committed board of directors to launch what seemed to be a monstrous task of starting a new state SPJ chapter.  We have a lot to be thankful for in 2014.

  • Thank you for your SPJ and SPJ Georgia chapter memberships! Without your support, the chapter’s ability to provide programming, and the proverbial office supplies to set up the chapter, could not have taken place. Thank your for your patience as a website, SPeachJ and Facebook and Twitter pages were developed to serve our state membership needs.
    • The SPJ Georgia chapter leadership has enjoyed meeting our members and appreciated all the advice and participation of our members during 2014. We look forward to seeing you in 2015 and, as always, want your input for your SPJ Georgia pro chapter. Too many members to mention in one column, but thanks to Judi Kanne, Haisten Willis, Carolyn Cunningham, Lindsay Gladu, Phelps Hawkins and Karen/Ron Bridgeman for their charter leadership and opening doors to opportunities.
    • SPJ student members in Georgia: What an incredible group of future journalists produced by the finest journalism programs in the state! Kennesaw State University is a beautiful campus with an active SPJ student chapter in northwest metro Atlanta. Their ability to provide programming for journalism students (and professionals) is a great model for SPJ student chapters everywhere. Thank you Dr. Carolyn Carlson for introducing us to SPJKSU and its president, Ellen Eldridge. She will be joining the SPJ Georgia board as President-Elect in 2015.We are honored to be working with SPJ Georgia State University as it forms an urban, proactive membership whose members are committed to the future of journalism. Thank you Leah Jordan for your inspiration during your senior year at GSU … and the ability to jump into breaking news … as SPJ Georgia reported on a First Amendment violation from a local politician who felt a restraining order would keep a Georgia journalist from reporting on his campaign. One of SPJ Georgia’s newest board member will be Ciara Frisbie. She is a GSU sophomore majoring in broadcast news. Frisbie will serve as SPJ Georgia’s student representative. Thank you GSU! It was a pleasure to meet David Schick, president of SPJ/ONA University of Georgia student chapter this autumn. The powerhouse, UGA Grady School of Journalism, is considered to be one of the best journalism schools in the country. The future of journalism is in good hands with these future journalists in print, online, broadcast and social media.
    • SPJ National and Region 3: Thank you SPJ National staff members Tara Puckey and Linda Hall for answering hundreds of questions from unending emails and phone calls. Thank you for your patience and support! Michael Koretzky, thank you for your ear and cheerleader conversations online or over the phone. And thank you for taking on the role of our “cash cow” when our income well is dry.
    • SPJ Georgia board of directors: Adina Solomon: Never have met a smarter 22-year old in my life. She is co-founder of SPJ Georgia; the chapter could not have been born without her. France may have you right now, but you are in our hearts everyday. Ruksana Hussain: She is the conscience of the board who looks at everything “SPJ Georgia” within a 360 degree perspective and makes the board look at all points of view. “California Dreaming!”  Jason Meucci: Jason is a great teacher/mentor for young people in SPJ and ONA organizations in social media and broadcasting, while at the same time, brought his wit to provoke laughter at SPJ Georgia events and board meetings. You always brought in great ideas for SPJ Georgia! Good luck on your new journey.  Devika Rao: Devika has been crowned the marketing guru of SPJ Georgia with her initiative advice to push the board beyond the regular marketing norms. Keep blowing us away Devika! Marsha Walton: She was at the first SPJ Georgia meeting and we noticed! Her wisdom lies in her people skills with her ability to make everyone comfortable when connecting with her in a conversation. As a SPJ member fan through and through, the SPJ Georgia board is luck to have you!  Phelps Hawkins: He is the brains behind the SPJ Georgia bylaws. He was the SPJ Georgia protagonist who we took very seriously. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! These board members gave everything they had to make sure SPJ Georgia was developed, stretched and continued to move forward. A few of these original board members will be staying for 2015 board, who will provide a great foundation for the next SPJ Georgia leadership, while others move to other parts of the country or a new job opportunity. Thank you for making your mark in journalism with SPJ Georgia. Check in frequently to see your legacies in action.

    Sharon Dunten is a freelance journalist and photojournalist with Dunten Media Services and is editor of SurvivingTimes.com.  Dunten is the 2015 SPJ Georgia president and co-founder of SPJ Georgia.  She is also editor of SPeachJ magazine.  Dunten is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia.  To contact Dunten or contribute to SPeachJ, email her at sdunten.spjgeorgia@gmail.com or @sharondunten


SPJGA survey will design agenda for “Operation: Freelance”

Keep your February calendar open for the SPJ Georgia freelance event, “Operation:  Freelance.” In November, SPJ Georgia sent out a survey to find out what our SPJ Georgia members want to be addressed at first education event for freelancers in 2015.  If you haven’t taken the survey yet, link here to participate in the program.  The results will be revealed by Dec. 31, 2015.  In the meantime, watch for more information on “Operation: Freelance” on SPJ Georgia’s social media and SPeachJ.

 AHCJ invites SPJ Georgia to Affordable Care Act event

The Atlanta chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) and the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform invites SPJ Georgia members to a special free event on Tuesday, Dec. 2, starting at 7 p.m., at the Ri Ra Irish Pub, 1080 Peachtree St., NE, Atlanta, GA  30309.  (corner of Cresent and 12th).  The evening’s event is entitled, “ACA Enrollment Round II:  Do Consumers Have the Help they Need?”  7 p .m. – Open Bar and refreshments, 7:30 – 9 p.m. is the program.Association of Health Care Journalists logo

The Affordable Care Act‘s second open enrollment period runs through mid February 2015, and millions of people are looking for help to find the best insurance fit.  While many who signed up last year might be shopping around for different plans, millions more may become first time buyers.

The AHCJ event will explore the availability and usefulness of in-person assistance programs (navigators, assisters and brokers) that are intended to help individuals search and apply for coverage. After 2014’s enrollment difficulties, the event will address the challenges of this second round, with particular focus on the help available to consumers.

The following individuals will be speaking at the program:

A RSVP is requested by emailing Andy Miller at amiller@georgiahealthnews.com or call (404) 386-8290 or email Marilyn Werber Serafini at mserafini@allhealth.org or call (202) 789-2300.

The evening is sponsored by the AHCJ, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Foundation.

AHCJ long logo


SPJ Georgia brochure 2014SPJ Georgia introduces new tool to promote state chapter

SPJ Georgia Professional Chapter has a new brochure.  It is a prototype brochure to market the chapter and the Society of Professional Journalists. Together with our new logo, we want our members and potential members to have a piece of marketing in hand to clearly identify the Georgia chapter, and along with the SPJ National information,  and have thorough information to become or support SPJ and SPJ Georgia. To request a copy of the brochure, email SPJGeorgia@gmail.com along with your name and address.  To see inside of the brochure, link here.


 SPJ National offers 6-month waiver

TransitionalMembership_Ad small (1) copySPJ members and chapters are the lifeline to the Society of Professional Journalists.

It has been painful to watch our SPJ Georgia members, our friends, who have lost jobs as a result of the economy and drastic industry changes.  In an effort to help through this rough time, the SPJ National is now offering a six-month dues waiver to current members who have been laid off as a result of these unfortunate circumstances. To see if you qualify for the waiver, and to submit a request, please download this form and return it to SPJ headquarters. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.

Also, check  and SPJ Georgia social media websites frequently.  We list new job listings all the time on Facebook and Twitter.

We need each other now more than ever.

Give SPJ membership as holiday gift

Consider giving the gift of a Society of Professional Journalists and SPJ Georgia membership this holiday season. Link here to find out the details.  There are many ways to set up a membership including yearly or a monthly Auto Dues.  For more information, contact Linda Hall at SPJ National at lindah@spj.org or call (317) 927-8000, extension 203.



KSU students show little empathy for plagiarist in film

KSU logoOn Nov. 13, Kennesaw State SPJ student chapter hosted a screening of “A Fragile Trust,” a documentary about a serial plagiarist, Jayson Blair, who wrote for the New York Times.  Blair confessed to plagiarizing the work of other reporters and also fabricating information for his articles. The documentary’s director, Samantha Grant, writes on the film’s website, “Getting people thinking and talking about the challenges facing journalism, while reinforcing the notion that reliable and accurate journalism is essential to a functioning democracy, is why I’m doing this work.”

SPJ KSU out-going President Ellen Eldridge, a senior journalism major, said she felt excited to see more than 20 communications students attend the screening. “I know that the students enjoyed the documentary and the brief discussion after the film showed me that the student journalists take plagiarism seriously and have little empathy for people like Jayson Blair,” said Eldridge.

Frequently hosting events covering critical issues facing journalists and journalism,  the SPJKSU student chapter believes opportunities like the screening of “A Fragile Trust” will continue raising student awareness of the Society of Professional Journalists, said Eldridge.

Networking with professional journalists following the film was also a time for chapter and university students to discuss journalism ethics. The panel included:  Tenesha Bell, a former CNN producer and now owner of Perfect Pitch Media Group; Georgia Chidi, CEO of NeonFlag.com and a news pundit for Peach Pundit who was recently in the headlines after a candidate for the DeKalb County (Georgia) commissioners’ office, Tom Owens, filed a restraining order against Chidi to stop reporting on him.  James Mallory also was on the panel. Mallory is a veteran journalist who has more than 25 years under his belt with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is now a part-time instructor teaching writing and communications courses at KSU.

Eldridge also announced that Alex Moore will be replacing her as president of SPJKSU during the 2015 spring term. Eldridge will be moving into the President-Elect position for SPJ Georgia Professional Chapter in January 2014.

Georgia State University logo

Twitter has to become part of your world

GSU SPJ SideBar 11 02 2014 3
Ruksana Hussain, SPJ Georgia board member and owner of RuksanaWrites.com told students at the Sidebar about how important Twitter is for journalists. Photo by Devika Rao

More than 25 students joined the Georgia State SPJ student chapter at the Side Bar on Nov. 6 in downtown Atlanta to talk about social media and “How to put the ME in your social media.”  SPJ Georgia board member, Ruksana Hussain, a freelance writer for RuksanaWrites, shared with the students her experience with working with Twitter and Facebook and how using social media has been instrumental in finding new clients for her freelance business.

Phil W. Hudson, staff writer at the Atlanta Business Chronicle

In addition, Phil Hudson, staff writer at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, also introduced himself at the event and gathered with the GSU students inside the worn wooden booth seating at the Sidebar. Hudson writes about finance, music and sports.


Raven Schley
Photographer Raven Schley
Photographer Nadia Deljou

Part of the “ME” event was the opportunity for GSU students and guests to have their portrait taken for a professional head shot for social media sites.  GSU photojournalists Raven Schley and Nadia Deljou set up light boxes and sent the head shots to the guests within a week of the photo shoot. Contact Leah Jordan for more information about Georgia State University’s SPJ student chapter.

SSU hosts 2015 Southern Regional Press Institute for students

Savannah State University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications will be hosting the Southern Regional Press Institute, Feb. 19 – 20, 2015, at the university.  The theme of the conference is entitled,”Stepping Up, Stepping Out: Entrepreneurial Media in A Digital World.” To register, link here.  Fee $40. Deadline for registration is Jan. 9, 2015.

The Southern Regional Press Institute designs workshops to help aid college and high school students and their advisers to navigate the changing requirements for students pursuing a journalism degree.  The workshop topics will  include:

  • Mastering opinion writing
  • Going solo: Entrepreneurial journalists
  • Effective PR writing
  • Kickstarter, Crowdfunding, Indiegogo, How to fund your  Indie project
  • Living through media job interviews
  • Business basics: What entrepreneurial journalists need to know
  • Journalists using fusion tables and data visualization
  • Job fairs

For more information, contact Reginald Franklin at franklinr@savannahstate.edu or (912) 358-3378 or Novella Cross Holmes at holmesn@savannahstate.edu or (912) 358-3290


Ellen Eldridge, 2015 SPJ Georgia President-Elect

Read Ellen Eldridge’s freelance blog, “Freelancers need to make a living, too” on the SPJ National website.  Eldridge will be President-Elect for the 2015 SPJ Georgia board of directors.  To cover all your freelance needs, visit the SPJ’s Freelance Community page.

To find an independent journalist for freelance work, contact Sharon Dunten to see who is available through Georgia SPJ members and SPJ Georgia members. The link to SPJ National Freelance Directory is not responding with our website.  Please go directly to spj.org to access the directory.


Mouth of the South is a provocative blog from regional director

Michael Koretzky, SPJ Region 3 Director

If you haven’t read “Mouth of the South” lately by Michael Koretzky, the SPJ Region 3 Director, you may want to keep it on your bookmark for future reads.  Koretzky, as he likes to be called, is known as a maverick in SPJ circles and a ground-breaker for new programs for both professional and student chapters.  Koretzky has written exclusively about Georgia pundit George Chidi and his brush with a restraining order, as well as an article about Free Speech week with University of Georgia’s SPJ/ONA student chapter president David Schnick.  Like the headline states, it’s provocative, yet also thought-provoking.  Watch for more Koretzky posts in SPeachJ.  @koretzky

 SPJ Georgia board news

Members in attendance for the Nov. 11 SPJ Georgia board of directors meeting: Sharon Dunten, Devika Rao and Ruksana Hussain.  2015 SPJ Georgia board members in attendance:  Lindsay Gladu and Ellen Eldridge, Curt Yeomans and Ciara Frisbie. – Read more –

SPeachJ editorial deadlines

The next editorial deadline for SPeachJ is Dec. 22, 2014.  For a complete list of SPeachJ editorial deadlines, contact SPJGeorgia@gmail.com.  We will be happy to send you the dates.

 SPeachJ is the official publication of the Society of Professional Journalists Georgia Professional Chapter with all rights reserved. Any of the copy published on SPeachJ is copyright protected.  All authors of individual articles published on SPeachJ own their own copyright to their assigned or contracted articles; yet each author has a contract with SPJ Georgia or SPJ National to use those articles at any time without the author’s permission.  For additional information on SPJ Georgia’s copyright policy, contact SPJGeorgia@gmail.com.


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