Gov. Kemp to speak at GPA’s 133rd Convention May 30

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will join newspapers from around the state at Georgia Press Association’s 133rd Annual Convention on May 30.

Gov. Brian Kemp

Kemp will make the opening remarks at the All Georgia Products Reception on Thursday night at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The state’s 83rd governor took office in January and will be the first to speak at convention since Sonny Perdue — now the U.S. secretary of agriculture — in 2006.

The Thursday night reception will include several raffles that will benefit Georgia Press Educational Foundation. Gifts to be raffled include rounds of golf at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa and historic Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, hotel stays at the Partridge Inn in Augusta and the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and other smaller gifts and ticket packages. Tickets for the raffle will be sold throughout the convention’s first day with five for $25, 12 for $50 and 25 for $100. It’s a highlight that will cap off the first full day of the convention.

But it’s far from the only political highlight. The Opening Luncheon will feature two declared candidates for the Georgia Supreme Court: former Congressman John Barrow and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle.

The three days on Jekyll include dual editorial and advertising tracks, awards ceremonies for the Better Newspaper Contests for advertising and editorial, appearances by Grady College Dean Charles Davis, Galveston County (Texas) Daily News Publisher Leonard Woolsey, Creative Circle Media Solutions’ Bill Ostendorf, Conan Gallaty of the Tampa Bay Times, Zach Dennis of the Savannah Morning News (recently chosen one of Editor and Publisher magazine’s Top 25 under 35 in the newspaper industry) and the popular Ideas on Tap session hosted by Eric NeSmith of Community Newspapers Inc., with prizes awarded for the best ideas.

Session topics include “Advertising: Why Classifieds Could Be Your Next Big Thing,” “Getting the Paper Out During a Natural Disaster,” and “Looks Do Matter: Understanding Magazine Design Language.”

Savannah’s Dennis will lead “Latest Technology for News Gathering,” which will highlight free or inexpensive tools newsrooms can use to create and add audio, video and interactive graphics to enhance reporting, and Gallaty, from Florida, will be discussing the increasing use of pay meters by newspapers to monetize digital content.

It’s not too late to register for all or any of these events at the convention. Visit www.gapress.org/conferences-events/ for a complete program and registration information.

Tribune owner Graham buys three Alabama newspapers

The Walton Tribune owner Patrick Graham announced May 1 that he has acquired three additional newspapers in northeast Alabama.

Patrick Graham

Graham purchased The Sand Mountain Reporter in Albertville, Alabama; The Times-Journal in Fort Payne, Alabama; and the Jackson County Sentinel in Scottsboro, Alabama, from the Walls family and Southern Newspapers Inc. of Houston.

“I started my career in newspaper management in northeast Alabama,” Graham said. “I have so many great personal and professional memories associated with my family’s time in these tremendous communities. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to come back to the area as the owner of these papers and reconnect with old friends, make new ones and work hard on behalf of both in order to uphold the legacy of community service and community journalism established by the Walls family and Southern for so many years.”

Lissa W. Walls, chairman and owner of Southern Newspapers, said the company has a long association with the newspapers in these communities that has been enjoyable and profitable, and the company is very appreciative of that longstanding relationship.

“As a native of Guntersville, my interest and concern for northeast Alabama runs deep. I am pleased the ownership transition is from one family and community-focused operator to another,” Walls said. “Patrick Graham is an experienced and proven newspaper operator. His history of living and working in northeast Alabama make him ideally suited to lead DeKalb County into a bright future.”

Graham previously served as the managing editor in Fort Payne from 1996 to 2000 and then served as the associate publisher in Albertville from 2000 to 2003 before coming to Monroe as the publisher from 2003 to 2009.

Graham later bought The Tribune from Southern in 2014 and added The Covington News to his company in 2017.

“Monroe and Walton County are home and will continue to be,” Graham said. “But I’m very excited and appreciative of the trust Southern has shown in allowing me the opportunity to professionally serve these communities.”

 

Bill gives newspapers power to negotiate with Facebook, Google

Northeast Georgia Rep. Doug Collins is taking a lead role in a push to help news publishers negotiate better business arrangements with Facebook and Google.

Rep. Doug Collins

Collins, representative of Georgia’s 9th District, is a sponsor of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, along with Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, giving the bill bipartisan support in a Congress divided on most every issue. Cicilline is chairman of the House Antitrust Committee, and Collins is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

The bill establishes a 48-month safe harbor for the free press to band together to negotiate with dominant online platforms to improve the access to and the quality of news online. Importantly, the safe harbor is narrowly tailored to ensure that coordination by news publishers is only in the interest of promoting trust and quality journalism.

The free and diverse press — particularly local press — is the backbone of a healthy and vibrant democracy, but the control of access to trustworthy news online has become centralized by just two platforms. The Pew Research Center reported in 2017 that the majority of Americans access news through only two platforms — Facebook and Google — noting that “Facebook outstrips all other social media sites as a source of news.” Recent market reports also indicate that these same companies control the vast majority of online referral for news and the bulk of digital advertising revenue, while revenue for news publishers has plummeted by $31 billion since 2006.

“Community journalism holds a critical place in our democracy because it helps the American people understand and engage in civil society,” Collins said. “Through our bipartisan legislation, we are opening the door for community newspapers to more fairly negotiate with large tech platforms that are operating in an increasingly anti-competitive space. This will help protect journalism, promote competition and allow communities to stay informed.”

The bill received immediate support from news industry advocacy groups.

— News Media Alliance contributed to this story.

Editor Dan Pool of the Pickens County Progress in Jasper clarifies often misunderstood points in the First Amendment regarding freedom of speech and freedom of the press in this editorial from the Progress on May 9. Pool is slated to become president of Georgia Press Association at the 133rd Annual Convention May 30-June 1. This piece is available for use in other Georgia newspapers. Contact Sean Ireland at GPA.   

On freedom of speech and media access

By Dan Pool

dpool@pickensprogress.com

With Facebook booting seven well-known firebrands, issues like freedom of speech and freedom of the press have taken a higher profile in the national discourse this week.

Facebook’s decision to ban accounts like Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos put on a national stage the thorny, open-to-debate decisions that editors of newspapers have been dealing with all the way back to Benjamin Franklin with his Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729: how to handle the contributions of people who hold extreme opinions. Here are a couple of musings from this humble community editor.

Otis A. Brumby III, left, of the Marietta Daily Journal, and Dan Pool, Pickens County Progress of Jasper, are GPA’s president and vice president. Pool is slated to become GPA’s president at the 133rd Annual Convention.

At the Progress and with most other newspaper people I know (and I suspect with behemoths like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube), the first mission which occupies most of your energy is simply getting your product out to readers. For a workflow the last thing you need is to get into a prolonged debate over a couple of sentences in someone’s letter or opinion piece. I strongly suspect reading the accounts of Facebook decision that for the past year or so they were hoping the situation would just go away and they could get back to making billions and expanding their product ever-deeper into people’s lives.

At the Progress when election time rolls around our chief aim, contrary to what many feel about media bias, is to make sure we get the candidates’ names spelled correctly, the date of the election correct and that we don’t mix up quotes. Frankly, that takes most of a community newspaper’s time when politics gets heated.

A couple of points I’d like to clarify that are often fired like inaccurate Scud missiles regard freedom of speech and freedom of the press, both found in the First Amendment but not always understood.

Both are freedoms OF, neither are freedoms TO. Freedom of speech is exactly what the phrase says, you are free to say whatever you want. You can go tell everyone you want. You can hand out hundreds of fliers. You can create a website. You can yell it from the courthouse lawn. However, it doesn’t mean a newspaper has to print it, nor does it mean a social media company has to allow it on their servers. There is no freedom to the press. I have had several angry people over the years claim we were violating their freedom of speech because we wouldn’t publish something. I had one person become indignant that we wouldn’t run her extremely long story in its entirety – as though there is a constitutional right in America to have anything you write printed.

The chief at Twitter summarized the confusion over this and social media by musing in a podcast that they are somewhere between “a public square” where conversations happen unfiltered and a service with user agreements. In the end, they do have the right to kick someone off their company’s service – just like a bar can kick out an unruly drunk.

As a sidenote, freedom of the press means that newspapers can operate without harassment by government intervention. It has no bearing at all on someone having their letter to the editor printed.

That being said, it’s rare, very rare that the Progress declines to run something and never because we simply disagree with it. I have had numerous people over the years claim their writings would be too hot for us to print to which the reply is “try us.” Think about it this way, print something that creates a lot of controversy, stirs people up and sells a lot of newspapers. I can’t imagine any editor not champing at the bit for that.

Our general philosophy is to be as inclusive as possible of all views in this community and at the same times reject letters that contain blatant inaccuracies in fact – regardless of opinion.

We are committed to seeing all views expressed, even those we may find distasteful, and at the same time recognize our place as a community newspaper and thus our content should be fit to print. Not an easy path to navigate but nothing that hasn’t been challenging newspapers for 300 years.