A civic journalism team in Atlanta
The SaportaReport team (L-R): Hannah Elise Jones, Judith Service Montier, Jennifer Russell, John Ruch, Lance Russell, Maria Saporta, Allison Joyner, Kelly Jordan, Paula Hovater and Megan Anderson (Not pictured: Derek Prall, Tom Baxter,Eleanor Ringel Cater, Mark Lannaman and Maggie Lee.) Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

It’s amazing we’re still here.

Back in February 2009, I launched SaportaReport.com as a sidekick platform so I could weigh in on civic issues in addition to writing a business column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. I had become accustomed to writing about urban policy during my 27 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and I missed having a platform where I could provide analysis on regional issues.

Self introductions at SaportaReport event
Malika Reed Wilkins of ARC introduces herself as Pierce Nelson of the CDC Foundation and David Leiter of KPMG listen. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

There was no business plan. There was no long-term strategy. But because other journalists also had left the AJC, many also taking advantage of buyouts, several asked if they could join me at SaportaReport. How could I say no? I just had to figure out how to pay them. 

That’s how my side gig became what it is today — an independent civic journalism website that focuses on the Atlanta region. Several contributors have come and gone. But we have been able to continue publishing a wide array of features from journalists and creative leaders — bringing on the next generation of writers who give me hope for the future of our fragile news industry.

None of that would have been possible without support from our incredible group of Thought Leaders and Corporate Sponsors — our two main sources of revenue.

Colleagues and friends
Kelly Jordan, Lance Russell, Jennifer Russell and Bob Hope at the Gathering Spot on June 28. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

On June 28, we held our first-ever appreciation event to say “Thank you” to all the people who have supported us over the years. It is humbling to know so many companies, nonprofits and civic leaders have been willing to invest in local journalism and us.

The idea for the appreciation event came during YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Salute to Women of Achievement, where I connected with the irreplaceable Imara Canady, national director of community engagement for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. He offered to help sponsor an event at the Gathering Spot, where we celebrated 14 years (and change) of SaportaReport.

We invited representatives from all our Thought Leaders and Corporate Sponsors (among others) to join us for a reception with the sole purpose of saying thank you. Lauri Strauss, a collaborator for more than a decade, helped organize the event along with the whole SaportaReport team. Meg Reggie joined in — helping us secure Georgia Power’s Walter Kirk to take pictures of all of us.

Some of our most faithful supporters, including Milton Little of the United Way of Greater Atlanta, joined us

Civic leader Ann Cramer takes the mic from James Marlow of Southface as Jewanna Gaither of Firth Third Bank listens during self-introductions. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

We did receive thoughtful regrets and supportive comments from many corporate sponsors and thought leaders who were unable to be with us this year. They were missed, but they were with us in spirit.

Tom Johnson, who is a platinum sponsor with his beautiful wife, Edwina, gave opening remarks. Tom is one of those special people who has contributed so much to the community ever since he moved to Atlanta in 1990 to become president of CNN. Tom quickly joined the effort to strengthen the Atlanta Press Club into becoming one of the most important journalism organizations in the country. Although he has retired from CNN, Tom continues to give his time and treasure locally and nationally.

The gathering included our very first corporate sponsor — AT&T, represented by Venessa Harrison, Riley Blount and Mary Elizabeth Roberson. Saadia Madsbjerg of Coca-Cola came, as did Carrie Kurlander of Chick-fil-A and Sherrie Mazur of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Representatives from Georgia Power, Southern Company Gas, Truist and Hope Beckham, among others, joined the festivities. Paula Hovater, a veteran Atlanta leader, helps secure and retain our corporate sponsors.

Tom Johnson speaks on behalf of Corporate Sponsors at June 28 event. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

One feature that sets SaportaReport apart from other news sites is our thought leaders. It was Chris Schroder, who served as our publisher during the launch of our website, who came up with the idea of having annual Thought Leaders who would provide sponsored content on dedicated space on the SaportaReport platform.

We currently have 32 different Thought Leaders who write columns in specific topic areas, such as Philanthropy, Global Health, Workforce Development, Financial Inclusion, Atlanta Housing, Views from Peachtree, and Historic Westside as well, as People, Places, Parks, among others.

Managing — and juggling — our thought leaders is Judith Service Montier, a colleague and friend for decades. She works with Megan Anderson, who literally keeps SaportaReport afloat by sending out our twice-weekly emails and also writes a column. Megan also helped lead our transition to a new web host, Newspack, recommended by our friend Keith Pepper, publisher of Rough Draft, Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

AT&T’s Venessa Harrison with Riley Blount, Judith Service Montier and Mary Elizabeth Roberson as Paula Hovater (in red) listens. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

Of course, the heart of SaportaReport is its team of writers and featured contributors – John Ruch, Hannah Elise Jones, Tom Baxter, Allison Joyner and Mark Lannaman, who all write stories or columns for us. Maggie Lee continues to contribute as our data journalist.

Derek Prall, the editor of SaportaReport, checks our copy and coordinates our guest columnists — people from the community who want to weigh in on various topics. 

Eleanor Ringel Cater, who is on temporary leave, has been one of our earliest contributors. She was a highly respected film critic at the AJC, and she continues to practice her craft by writing movie reviews for us.

Then we have our esteemed photographer, Kelly Jordan, who literally manages to show up everywhere in town, capturing images of all that’s happening in Atlanta.

Imara Canady of AIDS Healthcare Foundation — the event sponsor, at the June 28 event. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

Lance Russell, working with his daughter, Jennifer Russell, produces the popular feature Stories of Atlanta — an amazing collection of 60-second spots that feature untold tales of our city’s history. Jennifer also handles SaportaReport’s social media and keeps up with our metrics.

As you can tell, despite my name being on the site — something I often regret — SaportaReport is so much more than just me. It is our team of contributors, our corporate sponsors and our thought leaders.

And, most importantly, it’s our readers.

Thank you for subscribing to our free emails. Thank you for reading our content. Thank you for commenting on our site. Thank you for being engaged in what’s going on in our community. Thank you for believing in civic journalism. And thank you for caring about what happens in our region.

Healthy communities depend on having strong and independent local news outlets to help provide civic literacy on the often-complex issues facing our city and our region.

John O’Callahan of ANDP with Todd Ellis of KPMG. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georiga Power.)

As I told the gathering at our appreciation event, you may not always agree with what we write (what fun would that be?), but we know you value what we do — providing information that offers unique insights into what is going on in our community.

We appreciate your donations, and we promise to continue to do our best — even though we still don’t have a business plan. Having seen many news entities fade away over the years, I remain dedicated to the future of our industry. The business of journalism is not for the faint of heart. 

So, as I reflect on the past 14 years, I marvel at the fact we’re still here. 

Thanks to all of you for playing a part in our success.

Forever friends: Tom Johnson and Maria Saporta at June 28th celebration of SaportaReport’s sponsors and Thought Leaders. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)
Saadia Madsbjerg of the Coca-Cola Co. laughs as Carrie Kurlander of Chick-fil-A introduces herself. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)
Sherrie Mazur of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation with Jill Savitt of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Gina Espinosa of Hope Beckham at June 28 appreciation celebration. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)
T. Dallas Smith, Maria Saporta and Egbert Perry at June 28 appreciation event. (Photo by Walter Kirk of Geogia Power.)
Having fun – the SaportaReport team (L-R): Hannah Elise Jones, Judith Service Montier, Jennifer Russell, John Ruch, Lance Russell, Maria Saporta, Allison Joyner, Kelly Jordan, Paula Hovater and Megan Anderson (Not pictured: Derek Prall, Tom Baxter, Eleanor Ringel Cater, Mark Lannaman and Maggie Lee.) Photo by Walter Kirk of Georgia Power.)

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

Join the Conversation


  1. As a Georgia native fortunate to have traveled the world and worked all over (including Atlanta AP and AJC) returning home to finish my next book I find the always interesting, eye-opening Saporta Report a must read. As Carly Simon sang, “Nobody Does It Better.” Don’t ever stop.

  2. Every time I receive my Saporta Report email, I marvel at YOUR resilience, Maria! Congratulations!! Long live the Saporta Report!!

  3. I am a Georgia native who is now living in Florida. I always look forward to reading the Saporta report, because it keeps me in touch with issues in Georgia. I am impressed with the thought leaders who cover various fields. I wish we had a Saporta Report here in Collier County!

  4. Don’t know you but am a loyal follower and admirer. You’ve done well and I suspect will continue to do so. Thank you.
    Your organization is a “teenager” in years. Should be many interesting years ahead. All the best.

  5. Love your publication, Maria, and your wonderful stable of writers and contributors. I’ve been reading since the beginning, and continue to read almost everything from most issues.

    In an age of AI, you can feel the humanity behind every single article I’ve ever read in the Saporta Report. You and your writers invest yourself in the news affecting Atlanta, and you do your research. That’s a combination that can’t be beat.

    Keep up the great work and here’s to many more years ahead.

  6. Thanks for your efforts. I always enjoyed your articles in the AJC and the Business Chronicle. Thanks for creating a format for thoughtful writers to contribute to the community.

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