Fannin Focus Report

Join SPJ Region 3 and SPJ Georgia for MediAtlanta on Oct. 29, and meet Mark Thomason, the Georgia journalist who was arrested for filing an open records request.

Dan Whisenhunt
Dan Whisenhunt

This session is an overview of SPJ Georgia’s role in the case where a judge jailed a journalist after he made an open records request. SPJ Georgia board member Dan Whisenhunt and SPJ Georgia member Carolyn Carlson will discuss the actions taken such as filing a JQC complaint against the judge who had publisher Mark Thomason arrested and how it might have led to her eventually resignation as the Director of Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC)  in Georgia. They’ll examine the case from start to finish, but it may not be over yet!


Hosted by Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, SPJGeorgia board member Dan Whisenhunt and Dr. Carolyn Carlson, Kennesaw State University.

Mark Thomas speaking at the 2016 SPJ National Convention in New Orleans.

Mark Thomason is the publisher of the Fannin Focus, a  local online newspaper located in Blue Ridge Georgia covering Fannin, Gilmer, Union, and Polk counties. Intent on Integrity for local news & hard news. In June Thomason was arrested on felony charges stemming from his efforts to get information about a judge’s use of county money to pay the legal fees of a contract court reporter who had sued him. One of the charges was for making a false statement. He was charged becauseof the way he worded his open records request, because he asked for checks he believed had been cashed illegally. He’will tell you more about his ordeal and how SPJ helped free him from the charges.Whisenhunt is editor of, a news website focused on providing in-depth, original content about Decatur, Ga., its neighboring communities and the surrounding area. He holds the position as treasurer for SPJ Georgia. 

Carolyn Carlson mug
Dr. Carolyn Carlson

Dr. Carolyn Carlson is an Associate Professor of Communication in the Journalism and Emerging Media concentration at Kennesaw State University. Carlson was responsible for gaining national attention by working with the SPJ FOI national committee and also coordinating a response with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, where she is founding director and long-term treasurer. Along with GFAF, SPJ Georgia issued many statements to provide helpful analysis of the indictment to SPJ as it was working on its complaint to the JQC.

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