Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. to partner in launch of Macon news operation

The Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. will partner with the National Trust for Local News and Mercer University to launch a newsroom in Macon.

The collaboration will be funded through a $5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“We are both humbled and excited to be a part of this collaborative,” said Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. Chairman DuBose Porter.

Noting that Macon is celebrating its 200th year, the Knight Foundation announced this week that it was investing $14 million into the city’s “continued growth,” including the $5 million for what it called “an exciting new initiative to strengthen community journalism in Macon.”

“The National Trust for Local News will lead an initiative to launch a new source for local news in Macon, in collaboration with Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism and the Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co.,” the foundation said in a news release. “The Trust pairs national infrastructure and technology with local knowledge to ensure long-term, sustainable, independent community news. The National Trust for Local News is dedicated to creating stronger communities by building sustainable community news organizations.”

Knight Newspapers purchased the Macon Telegraph and News and the Milledgeville Union-Recorder in 1969, but the Knight connection to Middle Georgia runs deeper. John S. and James L. Knight’s father, Charles Landon Knight, was born in Milledgeville. Beverly Knight Olson, one of James Knight’s four daughters and a foundation trustee since 1987, currently lives in Macon.

The Knight Foundation is committed to supporting former Knight newspaper communities, and has invested almost $60 million in Macon to date.

The collaboration offers the Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. a chance to further expand its coverage area after the purchase of eight community newspapers in the past year. The company owns and operates newspapers throughout Middle and West Georgia, including:

• The Courier Herald, Dublin, Laurens County

• The Sparta Ishmaelite, Sparta, Hancock County

• The Sandersville Progress Georgia, Sandersville, Washington County

• The Johnson Journal, Wrightsville, Johnson County

• The Soperton News, Soperton, Treutlen County

• The Montgomery Monitor, Mt. Vernon, Montgomery County

• The Wheeler County Eagle, Alamo, Wheeler County

• The Wilkinson County Post, Irwinton, Wilkinson County

• The Twiggs Times New Era, Jeffersonville, Twiggs County

• The Cochran News, Cochran, Bleckley County

• The Houston Home Journal, Perry, Houston County

• The Leader Tribune, Fort Valley, Peach County

• The News Observer, Vienna, Dooly County

• The Citizen Georgian, Montezuma, Macon County

•The Star-Mercury Vindicator, Manchester/Greenville, Meriwether County

•The Harris County Journal, Hamilton, Harris County

•The Talbotton New Era, Talbotton, Talbot County.

In addition to the funding for the new Macon newsroom, the Knight Foundation also announced it will invest:

• $5 million to Mercer University toward relocating the School of Medicine downtown.

• $505,000 to Wesleyan College to return to downtown with the opening of the college’s Leadership Lab.

• $1.5 million to the Otis Redding Foundation to support the opening of the technology-foward Otis Redding Center for the Arts.  •$1 million to the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative for economic and community planning for Ocmulgee Mounds’ path to being America’s next national park.

• $1 million to NewTown Macon to connect the 13-mile Ocmulgee Heritage Trail to the Pleasant Hill neighborhood.

“At Knight, we have spent decades studying what makes cities work and when we look at Macon, we see a shining example,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “With a clear guiding vision and strong partnerships, representative leadership and participation from residents of all backgrounds, Macon has reimagined and transformed its urban core to a vibrant, growing community.”

— Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co.


AJC invests in digital transformation, expansion across Atlanta, Georgia and the South

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, founded in 1898, is making a substantial investment to transform the storied daily newspaper into a modern media company, establishing an ambitious goal of delivering 500,000 subscribers by the end of 2026.

“Our mission is to be the most essential and engaging source of news for the people of Atlanta, Georgia and the South,” said AJC President and Publisher Andrew Morse. “Atlanta is one of the nation’s most dynamic cities, influencing local, regional and national conversations in politics, business, film and television and sports. The AJC is well positioned to capture the substance and soul of the region at an important moment in history.”

The AJC is owned by Cox Enterprises, the company founded by Ohio Gov. James M. Cox, and it remains its flagship publication. Cox will make a significant investment to expand the paper’s reach in metro Atlanta and key communities across Georgia, including Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah. The AJC plans to hire approximately 100 new positions in all parts of the business over the next few years.

The AJC’s expansion plans call for investments in key news beats, video and audio storytelling capabilities, and new products designed to meet the needs of several distinct segments of potential subscribers. The investment will also focus on bolstering the AJC’s product development, engineering, analytics and marketing teams to ensure the AJC meets the needs of modern news consumers.

The paper has already made key hires and promotions this year, starting with Morse, a digital and television media executive who previously held senior executive roles at CNN, Bloomberg and ABC News, and Leroy Chapman Jr., a veteran newspaper journalist who was promoted to editor-in-chief and is the AJC’s first Black top editor. Morse also recently added former Bustle Media executive Sharmi Gandhi as CFO and Erin Malone, formerly of CNN, as COO, to his senior leadership team.

In addition, Sharif Durhams from The Washington Post was named managing editor for news. Janelle Davis recently returned to the AJC from The Washington Post as managing editor overseeing features, food and sports. Mike Jordan was hired as the senior editor to lead a team focused on building a new product related to Black culture. 

The AJC has already begun its transformation this year, announcing tentpole video and audio programming. Legendary Atlanta broadcaster Monica Pearson will host a new weekly video program and podcast, “The Monica Pearson Show,” that will launch later this year. Pearson’s show will live alongside the AJC’s growing podcast slate, which includes the award-winning “Breakdown,” “Politically Georgia,” “The Braves Report,” “The Hawks Report” and “Southern Fried Soccer,” among others, and will mark the first weekly video program in the AJC’s history. The AJC brought on another broadcast legend, Bill Nigut, for “Politically Georgia,” which will increase to a daily show and also air on local broadcast partner WABE. Adam Van Brimmer joined the paper from The Savannah Morning News as a journalist and editor of The Jolt, the AJC’s daily political newsletter. The paper is exploring film projects, starting with original documentaries.

“Atlanta is a city on the rise, and we need to meet the moment. We see journalism not just as a way to inform the public and hold the powerful accountable, but also to cover the stories that people here are living. It’s how we experience our lives, from politics to sports, business to arts, and it’s an act of service to provide that coverage,” Chapman said.

— The Atlanta Journal Constitution


Nesmith promoted to editor of The Daily Tribune News

Marie Nesmith, an award-winning journalist with three decades of newspaper experience, is stepping into the editor role at The Daily Tribune News of Cartersville. She has served as the newspaper’s features editor since 2006.

Marie Nesmith

“I consider it an honor to be selected as The Daily Tribune News’ editor,” Nesmith said. “I am excited to move into this new role. Over the past two decades, I have enjoyed covering Bartow and highlighting the stories of its residents. I look forward to this next chapter and continuing to offer quality newspaper coverage through The Daily Tribune News.”

“When searching for an editor for The Daily Tribune, I was pleased Marie showed immediate interest,” said Rachael Raney, publisher of The Daily Tribune News. “Her 16 years of service and reporting for The Daily Tribune deserve recognition.

“Marie understands and believes newspapers are the core of journalism and understands the culture and people of Bartow County. I am excited for our community to have Marie leading our newsroom and have no doubts she will lead and report community journalism with excellence.”

While Nesmith will oversee the newsroom’s day-to-day operations, Ron Daniel will serve as the managing editor of the Cartersville newspaper.

Ron Daniel

“I am super happy for Marie as she makes the well-earned move to editor overseeing the daily editorial operations of The Daily Tribune News,” Daniel said. “I look forward to working with her moving forward to continue to make The Daily Tribune News a newspaper Bartow County can be proud of.”

Daniel is a native of Douglasville with more than 16 years of experience in local journalism. He is a strong believer in open government and celebrating the people in the communities served by local newspapers.

He has served as managing editor of the Douglas County Sentinel for the past nine years and will continue in that role along with his duties at The Daily Tribune News.

Daniel’s reporting and photography at the Sentinel have earned him numerous awards from the Georgia Press Association. Among those he is most proud of are first-place awards for Investigative Reporting, Education Writing, Breaking News Writing and News Photography. The Sentinel has placed in General Excellence in the GPA’s Better Newspaper Contest four times during Daniel’s tenure at the paper.

— The Daily Tribune News, Cartersville

Hubbard to edit The Covington News

Phillip B. Hubbard has been named the managing editor for The Covington News effective immediately, Proprietor Patrick Graham announced.

Phillip Hubbard

“I have really been impressed with how Phillip has stepped up and filled the void in the newsroom and at the newspaper during our recent transition in leadership,” Graham said. “With Phillip at the helm, and the efforts of our dedicated, talented staff, the newspaper has not only stayed the course during this difficult time but has significantly improved. Phillip has earned the opportunity to lead the paper in this new role moving forward.”

Graham will serve as both the newspaper’s proprietor and publisher and will become even more active in its day-to-day operations.

Hubbard served the previous two-plus years as The News’ sports editor. In that time, the sports department has won numerous awards and accolades in the Georgia Press Association’s (GPA) annual Better Newspaper Contests.

Stepping into this new role comes with great anticipation for Hubbard.

“I am looking forward to leading the editorial staff of The Covington News as its managing editor,” Hubbard said. “The newspaper has enjoyed great success by placing top three in General Excellence the past two years and the goal is to continue the award-winning ways.”

— The Covington News

Index News Service provides free religion coverage

The Index News Service has been launched to provide Georgia-centric religion coverage to the state’s newspapers at no cost.

The Christian Index, the nation’s oldest religious newspaper, created the news service to provide access to the kind of content readers want in a state where, according to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of residents consider religion “very important” in their lives.

The news service’s articles and photos are available on a newly created webpage, IndexNewsService.com. The Christian Index is an associate member of Georgia Press Association.

“Georgia is home to millions of churchgoers who have a keen interest in religion coverage,” said Roger Alford, editor of The Christian Index and founder of the news service. “Unfortunately, shrinking budgets mean many community newspapers no longer have the staff to provide this coverage.”

Alford, a retired Associated Press correspondent, said wire services, including the AP, have recognized the interest in religion coverage and begun marketing stories to newspapers.

“What sets us apart is that we’re offering content focused on Georgia and doing so at no charge,” Alford said. “We see our news service as a ministry of sorts to newspapers that have been financially devastated by declining revenue from advertising and subscriptions. We’re committed to providing newspapers with top quality religion news, features, commentary and photos.”

Editors can pick and choose articles and photos from the website. They can also opt to have stories uploaded automatically.

Henry Durand, news editor at The Christian Index and Index News Service, said he understands the need for newspapers to have quality photographs to dress up their pages and to grab attention on social media. “We make every effort to have high resolution photos accompanying all of our written content,” said Durand, whose three decades in journalism includes stints at Reuters, The Associated Press and CNN.

The Christian Index is funded by 3,400 Georgia Baptist churches.

— Christian Index

Zachary promoted to CNHI Director of Newsroom Standards and Practices

VALDOSTA – Jim Zachary, the longtime editor of The Valdosta Daily Times and Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI) news executive, has been promoted to director of newsroom standards and practices, Donna Barrett, CNHI president and CEO, announced July 18.

Jim Zachary, CNHI

In this new role, Zachary will expand efforts to train and support CNHI editors and their staffs with increased on-site presence at the company’s community news operations. He will relinquish his Valdosta editor duties to focus full-time on these responsibilities. A successor at Valdosta will be named soon.

“We are fortunate to have a journalist of Jim’s caliber to serve in this critical role,” Barrett said. “He is a proven leader and difference-maker devoted to quality journalism.”

Zachary said, “This is an exciting and important time to add this additional layer of support for CNHI newsrooms. What we do has never mattered more or been more important than it is now. I look forward to being more closely involved with our community newspapers.”

Zachary is a multi-award-winning journalist known for advocating for the First Amendment and open government. He and his wife, June, will continue to reside in Georgia.

— Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI)