Operation: Freelance is a go; SPJGA board member exposes $80K discrepancy of Georgia campaign

Welcome new SPJ Georgia members

Ingrid Arnesen, senior producer at CNN

Lanie Peterson, freelance writer based in Tybee Island, Georgia

Mary Silver, reporter, The Epoch Times

Dan Whisenhunt, editor of Decaturish.com and SPJ Georgia board member


Rescheduled Operation: Freelance is Saturday, March 28 at Kennesaw State University; registration still open

Operation Freelance logo contrast0011SPJ Georgia and SPJ Kennesaw State student chapter are hosting Operation: Freelance, a two session workshop focused on the ins and outs of freelance journalism, on March 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kennesaw State University campus in Kennesaw, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. Dress is business casual. The first session will run from 10 a.m. to noon with three freelance pros leading the conversation on how to start freelancing, how to find work and some other freelancing best practices.

Registration is open until March 27.  Tickets may be purchased at the door.  Exact change or check only.

Link here and register NOW!

For more information, contact spjgeorgia@gmail.com or lindsay.gladu@gmail.com.


SPJ Georgia board member breaks investigative story on Fulton Co. commissioner’s $80K campaign discrepancy

By Sharon Dunten, SPJ Georgia President

Ciara Frisbie photo
SPJ Georgia board student representative and and junior at Georgia State University Ciara Frisbie – SPJ Georgia file photo
Bill Edwards commissioner Fulton Co
Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – SPJ Georgia board member and Georgia State University student Ciara Frisbie said it took her eight months to break the investigation of Fulton County’s Commissioner Bill Edwards‘ campaign discrepancy from six years ago.

“I was really lucky with it,” said Frisbie, who is a junior studying broadcast journalism at GSU.  As a class assignment for the Georgia News Lab, she said she “worked on the assignment everyday and the numbers just popped out from the reports.”

Through the Georgia News Lab students receive practical, hands-on training, learning to use documents, databases, digital tools and interviews to conduct in-depth investigations, which might include reports from powerful people and institutions in Georgia.

And sometimes, a student gets a bite, or a big bite like in this report.

Frisbie’s investigative reporting led to reports in the (click here) Atlanta Journal-Constitution  and on (click here) WSB-TV Atlanta, Channel 2 Action News.

The Georgia News Lab is a collaborative investigative reporting initiative in partnership between Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Mercer University, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV Atlanta.

Editor’s Note:  Congratulations Ciara on your outstanding work!  SPJ Georgia’s board of directors and SPJ Georgia’s members celebrate with you for this great achievement in investigative journalism. Ciara Frisbie is a member of the SPJ Georgia board of directors as a student representative for the chapter. She works with the SPJ Georgia board as an adviser to the pro chapter and also works in programming for student SPJ members.


Sunshine Week:  Georgians win open meeting victory

Georgia residents recently scored an important open meetings victory, states a report from the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. Citizen-journalist Nydia Tisdale has settled her case with the City of Cumming, based on open meeting violations. Tisdale’s lawsuit alleged she was illegally thrown out of a city council meeting simply because she attempted to videotape it. The settlement includes city adoption of a policy that assures audio-visual recording of city council meetings. Read details of the case here.

First Amendment Foundation logoAccording to Gerry Weber, a GFAF director and one of Tisdale’s attorneys, “this settlement sends a powerful message that government officials cannot shroud their operations in secrecy by barring truth-telling video.”

GFAF also says to take note of the open government bills being discussed in the Georgia General Assembly right now.

For more information, contact the Georgia First Amendment Foundation at gfaf.org or call (404) 525-3646 or contact Hollie Manheimer at gfaf@mindspring.com.

Also read SPJ National’s FOI Blog, “Every year has 52 ‘sunshine’ weeks” by Robbie Ward.


Discounted online subscription offered to SPJ members

Discounted AP style book SPJ National adSPJ National has partnered with the Associated Press to offer you a 20 percent discount on an AP Stylebook Online subscription.

To receive your 20 percent discount get your SPJ member ID ready, (You can find it on the label of your Quill magazine or on the SPJ website when you log in. You can also call the SPJ office at 317-927-8000.), go to the secure AP Stylebook order form and choose “SPJ member” as the customer type on the right side of the form, enter your ID number and you should see a 20 percent decrease.

This discount will apply whether you are a new or renewing member, and will apply on top of your member discount, if you work for a news organization that is a member of AP’s news cooperative.

What to watch for … upcoming events and news

  • Watch for a broadcast journalists’ event planned for May in downtown Atlanta
  • Introduction of a new SPJ Georgia award for investigative reporting in 2015
  • A social gatherings in Atlanta, Macon, Savannah and Augusta coming up in 2015
  • An open house with the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)

 SPJ Georgia board news

In attendance for March 3, 2015 board of directors meeting: Sharon Dunten, Ellen Eldridge, Carolyn Cunningham, Leah Betancourt (via Internet), Devika Rao, Marsha Walton and Curt Yeomans. Absent: Richard Kenney, Ciara Frisbie, Dan Whisenhunt, Lindsay Gladu

  • SPJ Georgia is still looking for a treasurer for the board of directors. If interested, contact Sharon Dunten at sdunten.spjgeorgia@gmail.com or Ellen Eldridge at ellen@elleneldridge.com.  The treasurer must be a resident of the Atlanta metro area and may be bonded.
  • The Dr. Rick Kenney Scholarship has been established to help student journalists pay to attend SPJ Georgia events. Kenney donated $500 to initiate this scholarship. Kenney also donated the funds for SPJ Georgia’s new banner.
  • The new SPJ Georgia banner was displayed for the first time at the Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University in February 2015.  Sharon Dunten, SPJ Georgia president, was a panelist for three workshops on freelance journalism.
  • SPJ Georgia’s annual report is due to SPJ National by May 1, 2015.
  • SPeachJXpress was distributed online in February for the first time.
  • Reports were given by Ellen Eldridge on the First Amendment Gathering in January, Sharon Dunten reported on the SPJ National Journo Camp in Atlanta and the SPJGA board members who attended the Ted Scripps Institute in Atlanta shared their experiences.
  • The development of committees was approved to implement programming for SPJ Georgia members and journalists in Georgia. Board members will be contacting SPJ Georgia members through a survey and phone calls for opportunities to serve on a committee such as student journalists, community outreach, ethics, diversity, First Amendment, membership, partnerships programming, broadcasting, scholarships and awards.

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 sdunten.spjgeorgia@gmail.com or call Sharon Dunten at (317) 410-7217. Would you like to receive a SPJ Georgia Directory?  SPJ Georgia members please email SPJGeorgia@gmail.com.

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 SPJGeorgia@gmail.com or call  Sharon Dunten at (317) 410-7217 or Ellen Eldridge at ellen@elleneldridge.com.  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 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.

Editors:  Sharon Dunten: sdunten.spjgeorgia@gmail.com or call (317) 410-7217; Ellen Eldridge: ellen@elleneldridge.com



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