Get ready to become a freelancer; couple finds love for community journalism

Welcome new 2015 SPJ Georgia members:

Jim Crane, Executive Director of Standards and Practices, CNN; Stephany Fisher, CBSAtlanta 46, anchor; Alvie Hackle, staff writer, Statesboro Herald; Karen Huppertz, columnist for Atlanta Journal-Constitution; J Kenley Jones, Statesboro, Georgia; Sandee LaMotte, Executive Producer, Special Projects, CBS Atlanta 46; Cristy Lenz, Supervisor, CNN National Desk; Paige M. Peebles-McDuffie, Freelance journalist, Independence Day Publishing; Andy Miller, CEO/Editor of Georgia Health News; John Pepalis, Director of Membership Services at TFE Training Solutions; Leslie Perrot, Senior Producer, Al Jazeera America; Marie Powers, Staff Writer, BioWorld Today; Carol Shuman, Author, President, Carol Shuman,Ph.D. LLC; James Taylor, Senior Consultant, Deloitte

Operation: Freelance postponed

Operation Freelance logo contrast0011Due to the icy wintry mix on Feb. 21 in metro Atlanta, Kennesaw State University closed its campus to the public; therefore, SPJ Georgia complied to the decision and postponed the “Operation: Freelance” conference. But SPJ Georgia is working on a new date for the conference!   Please watch your email or SPJ Georgia social media to find out the new date for this conference.  For more information about the conference, contact Lindsay Gladu, SPJ Georgia board member, at   It will be worth the wait! – Sharon Dunten, President, SPJ Georgia,


New Landscapes, Endless Possibilities

By Marsha Walton, SPJ Georgia board member and freelance journalist

A few decades ago, career paths for journalists took predictable routes from small to bigger markets. If you were into print, it might be newspapers in Palm Beach, then Miami, and on to Washington, D.C. On the broadcast track, your resumé may read Lake Charles, Louisiana, then Milwaukee, then perhaps a TV network gig. Few took the chancy, insecure route of a freelancer.

Northwestern Medill logo“People of my generation thought journalism took a linear path, from small to medium to large papers, from general assignment to specialty beats. We learned that was the way it was supposed to be,” said Rich Gordon, professor and director of digital innovation at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications.

“That whole model is gone, not just for journalism. We had this illusion when we started that it was an equal partnership, that they cared about us like we cared about them,” he said.

But in the news business and just about everything else, it turns out it’s always been about the money. There’s simply no loyalty on the part of media companies. Good journalists who went into the business in the ‘80s and ‘90s may never have reached their “dream” paper or TV market, and chances are, they faced the slap in the face of a layoff or a buyout.

Journalism jobs have morphed dramatically. So J-school graduates need to emerge with business and computer skills complementing their writing chops, since there’s a good chance they will spend much of their careers being their own boss.

Gordon says the current paths to a fulfilling career may be more circuitous– it’s not just a matter of climbing the rungs from small market to big one. But there are more, and different kinds of opportunities than there have ever been. Startups are everywhere, and they may or may not be in the mold of traditional media or broadcast companies.

Walter Biscardi, video editor and entrepreneur

Case in point: Video editor and entrepreneur Walter Biscardi started his career at CNN in 1990. He’s reinvented himself many times since then, and continues to do so at his production facility, Biscardi Creative Media in Buford, Georgia.

“Into the early 2000s, you absolutely had to work at some sort of broadcast facility, whether that was a local broadcaster, national broadcaster, or some established production company, like here in Atlanta that was Crawford Communications,” said Biscardi.

Those places had hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars worth of equipment.

“Now, fast forward to about 5 years ago, and now all it takes is a laptop and a camera and some software, and you can call yourself a video producer,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s a horrible thing all at the same time.

It’s wonderful because it is so affordable, but it’s horrible because, the amount of people in the pool, I don’t think anybody else can even get into the pool!” he laughed. – more –

Bridgemans find common ground in community journalism

Karen and Ron Bridgeman
Karen and Ron Bridgeman are members of the Society of Professional Journalists and SPJ Georgia. Photo by Pam Dorsett

By Pam Dorsett, Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and SPJ Georgia Pro

When Ron and Karen Bridgeman left Tennessee three years ago, they wanted to bring two things with them to Georgia’s weekly Putnam County newspaper, The Eatonton Messenger: a deep commitment to community journalism and the necessity of accuracy in reporting.

“One of the things we really prize in the community journalism world is the dual role of cheerleader and watch dog, of being able to really celebrate successes … and being able to participate in moving things forward,” Karen said. Both Ron and Karen say they believe community journalism works because the news that is covered is the news people want to know.

Since arriving in Georgia, The Eatonton Messenger has won both 2013 and 2014 Georgia Press Association awards for general excellence for the first time and more than 20 awards in various categories, competing against weeklies three times its size. Both Ron and Karen received awards for written work.

“We’ve had some amazing things happen in the time that we’ve been here, and being able to celebrate those successes, the things where we’ve done a really good job, it’s nice to be able to share those with the person who matters most to you,” Karen said.

Married for 22 years, the Bridgemans work on the same team and enjoy the shared experiences, but the couple said they wanted to be near their two grandsons in Jefferson, Georgia, and in Eatonton they found the jobs and community they liked. – more –

25 top things you need to know about becoming a freelance journalist

Savannah State logoAfter returning from the Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University this past weekend where I served as a panelists for the “Stepping Up, Stepping Out: Entrepreneurial Media in a Digital World,” I have created a list of the 20 top things you need to consider if you are thinking about becoming a freelance journalist.

  1. You will own your own business; think about sole proprietorship or LCC; know basic book keeping — accounts payable and accounts receivable; if you don’t know how to reconcile your checkbook … now is the time to learn.
  2. Check book clip artOpen a separate business checking account outside your personal account.
  3. Search the Internet for tax requirements for small businesses in your state.
  4. Enhance your skills; if you need more training, find conferences, workshops or courses to update your skill set; now is your time to shine      – more –


One of the nation’s oldest journalism contests is back for its 65th year for professionals and student journalists

Green Eye shade logo 2014 2105Attention journalists who work in the Deep South: The Green Eyeshade Awards is open for entries. This venerable all-media contest, created in 1950, is back with new categories – but the same old prices ($60 for pros, $40 for SPJ members).

The Green Eyeshades recognizes the best in print, online, radio, and television from 11 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

This year marks the return of the College Top 10. Unlike other college media contests, the College Top 10 recognizes individuals instead of stories – especially beat reporters. And the entry fee is among the cheapest in the nation at only $20 per category.

All proceeds from the College Top 10 benefit SPJ’s annual homeless shelter newspaper program called Will Write For Food.

If you have questions or seek details on the 65th annual Green Eyeshade Awards, contact contest coordinator Tim Dodson at

Excellence in Journalism




Apply for Harper Memorial Scholarships to attend EIJ15 in Orlando

Link here for more information:

SPJ Georgia Board News

  • The SPJ Georgia board of directors will be meeting on March 3.
  • A new SPJ Georgia banner was purchased to use at workshops, conference booths and gatherings to help promote SPJ Georgia.  A private donation was given from a SPJ Georgia member to purchase the banner.
  • The first SPeachJXpress was sent out in February as a promotional online publication for non-members.
  • A $500 gift will be given by an anonymous donor to help supplement student journalists to attend SPJ and SPJ Georgia events.
  • Four SPJ Georgia board members will be attending Ted Scripps Leadership Institute on Feb. 27 to March 1.
  • Mercer University Center for Collaborative Journalism has started a SPJ student chapter in February.
  • SPJ Georgia’s annual report is due May 1, 2015.
  • Seven new members have joined SPJ Georgia last month.
  • SPJ Georgia will be developing a LinkedIn page.
  • SPJ Georgia is planning an open house for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).

SPJ National offers six-month dues 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 more than ever.

Become a member of SPJ Georgia and national Society of Professional Journalists

YOU CAN JOIN SPJ Georgia as a new member and further your journalistic ambitions and the industry in Georgia. For more information, email or call Sharon Dunten at (317) 410-7217. Would you like to receive a SPJ Georgia Directory?  SPJ Georgia members please email


SPEACHJ Breaking News

When breaking news about a journalist or journalism is occurring in Georgia (or nationally), the SPeachJ Breaking News will be covering it.  The breaking news will be email blasted immediately to our SPJ Georgia members and SPJ Georgia social media.  If you have news about a journalist or journalism occurring in Georgia that needs to covered in SPeachJ Breaking News, contact or call  Sharon Dunten at (317) 410-7217.  The journalist does not need to be a SPJ or SPJ Georgia member.  We are advocates for all journalists.


SPeachJ editorial deadlines

The next editorial deadline for SPeachJ is Feb. 23, 2015.  For a complete list of SPeachJ editorial deadlines, contact  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

Editor:  Sharon Dunten: or call (317) 410-7217


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