Maria Saporta, editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.
Sharmen Gowens: business development manager, is former interim CEO of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta. Sharmen spent 33 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, spending the last three as the newspaper’s community engagement manager. Prior to the YWCA, she was the community relations’ manager for the lifestyle-marketing agency, Liquid Soul Media. At SaportaReport, Sharmen is in charge of building community partnerships, increasing online readership, brand development, marketing the website and selling Thought Leadership positions.
David Pendered, managing editor, is an Atlanta journalist with 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
Eleanor Ringel Cater, movie critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly’s Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Michelle Hiskey, columnist, is a veteran writer whose stories of recovery and redemption bridge unexpected places and people across Atlanta. She has freelanced for CNN.com, NCAA.org, ESPN.com, the New York Times and several nonprofits. She currently writes for the Georgia State University Foundation. Before 2008, she worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 22 years as a sports reporter, columnist and Sunday feature writer. Michelle received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Duke University, which she attended on golf and journalism scholarships. She lives in Decatur with her husband Ben Smith, also a journalist, and their two daughters.
Ben Smith, columnist, often fills in for his wife Michelle Hiskey as she works on her memoir — “Trophy Girl.” Ben is a veteran reporter and website designer who has written freelance articles for the Toronto Star, CNN, AOL.com, the Daily Report, among other publications. He worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 22 years covering primarily politics and government. Ben earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. Ben and Michelle live in Decatur with their two terrific daughters.
Tom Baxter, columnist, has written about politics and the South for more than four decades. He was national editor and chief political correspondent at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and later edited The Southern Political Report, an online publication, for four years. Tom was the consultant for the 2008 election night coverage sponsored jointly by Current TV, Digg and Twitter, and a 2011 fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. He recently surveyed the impact of Georgia’s immigration law in a report for the Center for American Progress. Tom and his wife, Lili, have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
Saba Long, who lives in downtown Atlanta, is a communications and political professional who provides external and internal communications strategy for MARTA and other organizations. She served as the senior council aide for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson until 2013. She also served as press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta – the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. Saba serves on the boards of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and PEDS as well as sponsorship chair for the Atlanta chapter of ColorComm Network, a national organization for women of color in the communications field.
Jeff Cochran, advertising sales, is an Atlanta native who has spent more than 30 years in advertising, first with Peaches Records and Tapes and then for 27 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jeff accepted a buy-out from the AJC in August 2008 and has since been working with longtime friends with the AJC, including Maria, who are establishing their own websites. Jeff also contributes articles to Likethedew.com, another site that features former AJC colleagues and other local writers.
Cara Hebert, digital marketing, is a recent addition to the Saporta Report. She was born in Charlotte, N.C. but grew up all around the world. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in journalism, Cara went on to work at the McClatchy News publishing center at the Charlotte Observer. An avid beer connoisseur, Cara is happy to live a half mile down the road from the Sweet Water Brewery. While she has a special interest in sports, Cara is currently working on helping to brand SaportaReport and expand its online presence.
Chris Schroder, a founding member of SaportaReport, continues to be a minority partner. Before starting his PR firm in 2002, Chris worked for six Southeast daily newspapers as a reporter, editor, marketing and advertising executive (including the Charlotte Observer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Fulton County Daily Report) before starting his own chain of neighborhood newspapers in Virginia-Highland, Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta in 1994. A fifth-generation Atlantan, Chris graduated from the Westminster Schools and the University of Virginia. He is married to Jan Butsch Schroder and has four young adult children and stepchildren.
Our Pledge to Readers:
Because the world of journalism and communications is ever changing with new channels and ways to deliver information, we want to maintain as much transparency as possible. We will strive to maintain high journalistic standards and will disclose any vested interests or relationships in stories and columns on SaportaReport.com.
Advertising and Thought Leadership positions are being sold on the site, but there will be no quid-pro-quo that advertisers and sponsors will receive special treatment on the site. But it is highly likely that some of our sponsors and advertisers on the site would have views parallel to ours. To keep the line between advertising and editorial content separate, Sharmen and Jeff will handle the selling of ads and Thought Leadership positions on the site.