By Maria Saporta
The Atlanta Press Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 by looking forward rather than focusing on the past.
The APC’s “Forward at Fifty” initiative will seek to leverage the anniversary year as a way of strengthening the role of journalism in serving the public interest. The year-long series of events will unfold under three themes — “Celebrate, Educate and Engage.” The Cox Media Group will sponsor the APC’s “Forward at Fifty” initiative.
“As the nation’s second largest journalism organization, we want to embrace the challenges we face and ensure that we continue to play a vital role in our democracy,” said Susanna Capelouto, president of the Atlanta Press Club. “We’re creating a year-long initiative to get as many people as possible involved in considering not just what the media has contributed but how it can be effective going forward.”
Bill Hoffman, president of the Cox Media Group, said the company “is honored to support the rich heritage of Atlanta journalism.”
The Cox Media Group is the parent company of several of Atlanta’s top media brands — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, MundoHispánico, WSB TV, and four radio stations including WSB News/Talk.
“The Atlanta Press Club and its members embody one of America’s greatest freedoms, the freedom of speech,” Hoffman said. “We celebrate this landmark year with all Atlanta journalists and look forward to the next 50 years.”
Events during the year will include a forward-looking journalism symposium, the club’s first, and a special edition of the Hall of Fame ceremony.
At the 50th Anniversary Kickoff on Feb. 4, several dignitaries will attend including Xernona Clayton, the group’s first minority member and a Hall of Fame honoree, along with current media luminaries, sponsors, and journalism educators.
Capelouto will lay out the initial slate of activities and talk about recent accomplishments. The club is one of the nation’s largest professional journalism organizations, with more than 560 members.
Poynter at the Press Club storytelling workshops start off Educate activities
Two nationally known journalism coaches and storytellers from the renowned Poynter Institute will provide a powerful first Educate element. Poynter at the Press Club will help participants hone their narrative skills in the new age of electronic journalism.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, Al Tompkins, senior faculty member for broadcasting and online, will present three sessions on “Writing Across Platforms.”
Then on Saturday, March 22, Sara Quinn a visual journalism faculty member and multimedia expert, will lead four sessions on “Social Media for Journalists.”
Both events will take place at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The sessions are open to the public but seating is limited and members will get special pricing. For more information see www.atlantapressclub.org.
On Sept. 6, the club will present a day-long journalism symposium in partnership with Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism. The symposium will explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the convergence of traditional and new media forms and examine where journalism is heading in an electronic world. Tim Regan-Porter, the director of the center, will discuss the symposium at the Feb. 4 kickoff luncheon.
Celebrate and Engage activities will occur throughout the year
While the year will be forward-looking, the club believes in the importance of documenting its history as a way of celebrating what the club’s journalists have accomplished. A multi-media project with that aim is in the active planning stages.
Plans for the celebratory Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony taking place on Nov. 6 are also under way.
“We promise an event to remember with a stellar group of inductees worthy of our 50th anniversary,” said Jon Shirek, reporter for WXIA-TV, program chair and past APC president.
With 2014 statewide elections promising a lively political season, the club will once again Engage the community during the primary and general elections with its Loudermilk-Young Debate Series.
Funded through a $1 million endowment from Charles Loudermilk, the debate series has become recognized as the preeminent series in the state. It has already provided years of debates with candidates responding to questions from respected journalists to help the electorate make more informed choices.
One symbolic way for all supporters of the club to become Engaged during the year is already active. Throughout 2014, those purchasing event tickets or making a contribution to the organization will have an option to make an additional donation of 50 cents to commemorate the 50th anniversary.
Proceeds will go to APC’s internship program, which is helping to Educate a new generation of aspiring journalists.
Incoming press club president Anita Sharpe noted, “We want our 50th anniversary to be on the minds of everyone who cares about good journalism in Atlanta and beyond.”
For more information, please visit www.atlantapressclub.org or call 404-577-7377.
Note to readers: In the interest of full disclosure, Maria Saporta serves on the board of the Atlanta Press Club and chairs the committee that organizes the Loudermilk-Young Debate Series.