Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Being a part time blogger doesn’t make me a journalist in the eyes of the Atlanta Press Club.

Several months ago I discovered that the Atlanta Press Club, located just blocks from my office; hosts monthly luncheon events with relevant newsmaker speakers. I sat through and thoroughly enjoyed the speeches by Governor Perdue & CDC Director Gerberding and these events allowed me the opportunity to take my nose off the grindstone (if for only an hour) of the everyday job that pays the bills. I figured that I should officially join this esteemed organization, if for no other reason than my future lunches would then be reduced. I signed up for their mailing list and was soon invited to attend a presentation titled “Ethics & New Media: How the blogosphere is Affecting Journalism and Business”.

Since at least one Georgia politician believes that I have used my site as a public whipping post and therefore need to be more ethical in my news coverage. I reviewed the prices and noted that APC members were free to this event where non-members were asked to pay, because of this I figured it was a great day to register to be a member. Looking at the membership dues of $40.00 for active journalists and $90.00 for non-profit organizations, I figured that this little blog would qualify me for the better rate. After applying, the nice people at the APC didn’t reject me straight out but they wanted to know my qualifications as a journalist, they wanted writing samples of my published works.

I forwarded my submission as requested, yet in the end, I was only offered membership in the nonprofit category, probably because of the way their bylaws are written. Hey, I fully understand the decision, rules need to be followed and in the end I’m only doing this blog thing as a service to community I represent. I’ll probably pony up the increased nonprofit dues since I wouldn’t want to miss lunch with the new Braves GM, the new Falcons Head Coach & Barbara Walters.

Below was my attempt to prove that bloggers could be considered journalists, but maybe my application should be redirected to a group of misfits that would have someone like me?

Dear Atlanta Press Club, thanks for giving me an opportunity to apply as I am sure the name of my organization does not represent the press or a media organization to the casual observer. I am the President of my neighborhood civic association and I attempt to effectively use the social media through my blog to further my agenda of quality governmental services for the 1,000 homes in my neighborhood. Be it DeKalb County, the DeKalb School Board, the Police or the future City of Dunwoody, I tend to be equal opportunity pain in the ass. The two motto's I try to follow when I publish items on my blog are, When I have the ability to make a difference, I have a responsibility to do so and transparency in Government breeds self-corrective behavior. If I could follow those two items then I figure I’m doing well and making a difference in the community.

I have learned that the squeaky wheel in DeKalb gets the grease & I use my little blog to the advantage of the community I serve. I have a tendency to print direct statements from politicians /governmental officials and shine a light on what they said. I also make open records requests when I believe that the government is hiding information and I then post 1,000’s of pages of documents on line, many of which are embarrassing to those involved. I am also one of the few bloggers in the Dunwoody area and as a highly involved community leader my site can be news worthy in the coming push for cityhood.

I work downtown at Peachtree Center and have attended several of the Press Club lunch events, including Governor Perdue & CDC Director Gerberding presentations. When the blogging event came out, I figured that I needed to attend and that it was time to officially pay my dues if I was eligible to do so.

I have attached a few of my recent items and I look forward to your reply.

John Heneghan, President
Dunwoody North Civic Association Blog Site Website

The blog entry immediately below highlights several DeKalb County news stories that have not yet been shown in the mainstream media. On this day the County was thinking about giving the Police a pay raise so I suggested that a different story angle was found on the Anonymous DeKalb County Police Blog which states that it is the mismanagement of the department and not pay as the main reason for the retention issues. I then discussed a $200,000 waste of County money on a ten year parks master plan that was just done just 5 years ago and the county is on the verge of a lawsuit because of breach of contract. I obtained over 1,800 pages of public records (which cost me over $500) and posted numerous embarrassing items including an e-mail which shows that the county and the contractor were purposely withholding information from interested citizens and news organizations. Finally in the same blog entry, I posted more embarrassing e-mails showing DeKalb Counties lack of playground maintenance.

This blog entry highlights Representative Jill Chambers discussing bloggers in the well of the GA House of Rep whereby she feels that she has been mistreated. Since she did everything but mention me by name, therefore I had to respond.

Below is a link to pretty much everything I ever posted on Ms. Chambers.

Below is the main post on the parks master plan screw up as well as the photo of the embarrassing e-mail.

Below is a link to a number entries on the Peachtree Charter Middle School intersection issue that I helped solve by blogging on the issue and posting embarrassing photos, e-mails and County documents. My posts were the reason for a number of AJC & Dunwoody Crier articles.

My blog entries were the cause of at least one piece of State Legislation on speeding because I highlighted the screwed up laws and the lack of due diligence of the DeKalb County Police.

DeKalb passed a $500,000 no bid contract extension on what was originally a $1.3 million contract and I documented the issue with an open records act request.

Depending on how much I post, my influence rankings on BlogNetNews goes up & down. Last week I was ranked the eleventh most influential political blog in the State of Georgia, this week I am sixth, it means very little to me but it may mean something to you in making your decision.


Kim said...

Very entertaining, Jim! I think that "jounalists" are under the mass illusion that they are uniquely qualified by their self-proclaimed impartiality. Yeah, right! Yours is an advocacy mission and blog and is the perfect example of "citizen journalism" that irritates politicians and some journalists.

Grayson: Atlanta, GA said...

I've gone drinking with groups of bloggers. I've gone drinking with groups of "real" journalists. After a few rounds, they all start to sound the same.

Trackboy1 said...

Hene, what do you expect??? You keep scooping the AJC. The press club can't acknowledge that you break more stories than the AJC's DeKalb chief, Larry Conley, and most of his staff.
Actually, when was the last time the AJC broke a DeKalb story...