I admit, I may have sent the eyeroll emoji to a colleague on the other side of a borrowed meeting room in Ansley Park when the board of the Atlanta Press Club settled on a tagline: “journalism matters.”
The beheading of James Foley troubled Dorie Griggs of Roswell on a level that most of us cannot relate to. For the last 12 years she has followed an unpaid calling as a chaplain to journalists, especially those in combat zones.
It would be hard to find anyone in metro Atlanta who understands and supports the news gatherers who rush to danger without the benefit of trauma training. And sometimes don’t come back.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that schools could censor student newspapers, teenagers responded by creating their own uncensored and independent newspapers. Atlanta became home to VOX—Latin for “voice.”
Many of these papers folded in an era of massive cutbacks in professional journalism. But against those odds, VOX Teen Communications celebrated its 20th anniversary Saturday. Through VOX, many students launched successful college and professional careers in fields beyond journalism, earning the Gates Millenium scholarship among other awards.
In those short hours and on the weekends, VOX attracted students from all over the metro Atlanta area, who were mentored by professional journalists and other advisers. They reported, edited, photographed and designed a newspaper that publishes five times a year and a website www.voxteencommunications.org, that updates continuously, filled with work not likely to be deemed suitable by most high school administrators. Some of it is truly groundbreaking.
Note from Michelle: This week’s column is by guest writer Ben Smith, who happens to be my husband. Many of you know him from his days as an AJC political reporter.
By Ben Smith
In my old life, hitting the trail meant following the money, traveling with a campaign or tracking down a criminal.
Today it simply means taking my dog for walks in the woods and keeping my eyes open.
Yet in the three years since I left the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and sought to reinvent myself in the digital age, I have discovered that my skills as a reporter easily translate to a “beat” that is much smaller, more isolated and surprisingly weird.
Ruffling feathers with a cartoon isn’t unfamiliar territory for Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial cartoonist, Mike Luckovich, but his approach to his cartoons was permanently defined by a high school Moment. Luckovich was a sophomore in high school at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon and had just begun drawing cartoons for the school newspaper.
He joked, “In high school, believe it or not, I was not a very big guy” and described how the rest of his peers towered over him – even the Sheldon High School cheerleaders. “So I did this cartoon – I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said.
The cartoon depicted a freak museum with a billboard marquis that read: “Freak Museum: featuring Snerdily the boy with three nostrils, Melvin the deformed hippo and main attraction: The Sheldon Cheerleaders.”