Lyle Harris is coming back home to SaportaReport

By Lyle Harris

Who says you can’t go home again?

Nearly eight years ago, I briefly joined the ranks of SaportaReport shortly after its debut.  Following some career diversions that took me in a very different direction (namely, flakking for MARTA) I’m returning as a regular columnist and sometime-editor for SaportaReport, which has become one of the best, most influential newsblogs covering our region.

A lot of people have asked me why I’m taking this step, and why now.  The truth is that I’ve reached a point in my personal and professional life where I’m compelled by conscience to speak out candidly about issues that matter to me without worrying (too much) about getting fired. In fact, after seven years as MARTA’s chief spokesman, I voluntarily fired myself so I could freely embark on the next leg of my journey.

Lyle Harris

Topics Lyle Harris will cover in his SaportaReport column (Collage by Britton Edwards)

Going forward, I’ll mostly be covering three topics that I think are critically important to the future of our city, our region and the state of Georgia. I hope my experience and passion on these topics will prove useful to everyone and anyone who cares about this place we call home. Those issues include:

Transit and transportation: While we’ve seen isolated signs of improvement, Georgia remains a relative transportation backwater while the rest of the people-moving industry is going through a pre-Cambrian era of historic technological disruption. As a result, we’re losing our competitive advantage to other cities and regions that have embraced forward-thinking transportation solutions.

I wrote about transportation for many years as a reporter and editorial writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  During my stint at MARTA, I worked alongside some of the brightest, and finest people in the transit industry.  While there is still much for me to learn, my mission is to help accelerate the pace of change to ensure we don’t suffer through more mind-numbing, life-sucking, environment-killing auto-centric gridlock. We have the potential to become a regional think tank for transportation innovation, and my goal is to highlight the people, policies and politics we’ll need to reach that goal.

The Media: Oy! The Fourth Estate, locally and nationally, is in shambles. At a time when we need great journalism (and journalists) more than ever, local media outlets are cratering. As circulation and viewership have fallen, and the business models for newspapers and broadcast media have atomized, the quality of local reporting has grown unbearably awful.

Instead of providing us with information to help figure out what’s important, we’re bombarded with endless crime stories and empty-headed sensationalism. That kind of reporting only keeps us perpetually scared and misinformed. While I harbor no delusions about singlehandedly reversing these media trends, I’ll try my level best to serve as a watchdog for the often-misguided watchdogs.

Marijuana – Yep, you read that right. Marijuana is finally coming out of the closet in Georgia and across the country. Frankly, I want to help kick down the door. As an unapologetic capitalist, staunch supporter of civil rights, an advocate of criminal justice reform and a longtime marijuana consumer, I will be lending my editorial voice to help educate and inform Georgians about the growing marijuana movement that has the power to help and heal millions of people in a myriad of ways.

In the next several weeks, I’ll be launching a new hashtag to hear what others are saying and thinking about this game-changing issue.

I don’t consider this column to be my personal soapbox; my work will rely on factual reporting flavored with my own experiences and insights.  If and when I make a mistake, I’ll correct it promptly. Most of all, I intend to foster a civil, multi-faceted dialogue about these issues that ultimately moves all of us forward, which  I’m proud to say is a founding principle of SaportaReport, its writers and its namesake.

I’m glad to be back. Thanks for taking this journey with me and with us.

21 replies
  1. scfranklin says:

    Good news for all of us. Welcome back to the public dialogue. WIsh you would add public education to your portfolio. It is at least as important a marijuana,Report

    Reply
  2. pwilson says:

    Welcome back Lyle. Looking forward to your topics for discussion.  I am especially interested in what you think about gentrification in the city of Atlanta.  How developers and realtors are pushing people out of their homes in Old Fourth Ward.   No affordable housing.Report

    Reply
  3. Lance Russell says:

    Welcome back Lyle.Our region needs strong, reasoned, experienced advocates to shine light on our transportation challenges and the Saporta Report is a great place for your voice.I look forward to hearing what you have to say.Report

    Reply
  4. Burroughston Broch says:

    “I don’t consider this column to be my personal soapbox; my work will rely on factual reporting flavored with my own experiences and insights.”
    “…I will be lending my editorial voice to help educate and inform Georgians about the growing marijuana movement that has the power to help and heal millions of people in a myriad of ways.”
    Please explain the apparent inconsistency between the above excerpts from your post.Report

    Reply
    • Lyle Harris
      Lyle Harris says:

      I don’t see the inconsistencies. Perhaps you care to enlighten me or, better yet, stop hiding behind a pseudonym so we can assess your motives just as you’ve questioned mine.Report

      Reply
      • Burroughston Broch says:

        Your Statement 1. You don’t consider this column to be your personal soapbox.
        Your Statement 2. You will be lending your editorial voice to help educate and inform Georgians about the growing marijuana movement.
        Your Statement 2 means you will be on your soapbox about marijuana; this conflicts with Statement 1.
        QEDReport

        Reply
  5. Gwen Davis says:

    Lyle, Congrats on ‘firing’ yourself! New adventures, opportunities are sure to follow.
    I look forward to reading your reports  — and possibly contributing in some way.Report

    Reply
  6. Butler 63 says:

    Welcome back and looking forward to your reporting -a little more light is always welcome if you are willing to take on the issues of the day and avoid the cheer leading and brand building that has become Atlanta bReport

    Reply
  7. John Keys says:

    Best Wishes, Lyle. It’ll be good to read your thoughts on issues in addition to transit and mobility options. You’re a great asset to our region, with good insights! Glad you’re back into the “broader loop.”Report

    Reply

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