Cheap, short, small, and deep

SPJ’s Region 3 conference is Saturday, Oct. 29 – and  we’ve built it for pro journalists looking to get their hands dirty. In just a few hours, for just a few bucks, and with just a few classmates, you can learn practical skills you can actually use on the job…

Looking Inside LinkedIn

Yumi Wilson at Headshot Day in San Francisco

Yumi Wilson

A former LinkedIn executive shows you how to use the career-oriented social media network to not only promote yourself for your next job, but also how to use it for sources on your current job. This isn’t a generic overview of some tips and tricks. It’s an in-depth workshop that will improve your profile while you have it called up on your laptop in front of you. Ask tough questions, get solid answers, and leave with a better profile than when you walked in.

Yumi Wilson is a tenured journalism professor at San Francisco State University and a former reporter and editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Associated Press. But she’s perhaps best known as a corporate communications manager at LinkedIn, where she traveled the world teaching hundreds of journalists, executives, and employees how to build their brand on LinkedIn. She also specialized in “profile optimization” for politicians and celebrities ranging from Carly Fiorina to Oprah Winfrey.

Don’t Drone Alone

Brandon Ballenger

Brandon Ballenger

Learn the rules for flying a drone and the best ways to use one journalistically. Then take the controls of a cutting-edge Phantom 2 Quadcopter equipped with an HD camera. An experienced pilot will show you how. Shoot the best selfie ever (which we’ll email to you) and find out how to borrow the Quadcopter for your own projects.

Brandon Ballenger is past president of SPJ Florida, which runs a unique Loan A Drone program. Ballenger has trained high school, college, and pro journalists on how to fly the top-of-the-line machine the chapter recently purchases – with carry case, ideal for shipping to your location.

How Google News Lab Can Help You – For Free

Dan Petty

Daniel Petty

Never heard of Google News Lab? Heard about it but don’t understand it? Understand it but can’t master it? A Google trainer will walk you through all that Google offers journalists to make their stories better and their lives easier. Bring your laptop and your story ideas, and the trainer might actually use you as an example for the rest of the room – and you’ll leave the workshop with a story already underway.

Daniel Petty is a senior editor at The Denver Post in charge of the organization’s now team, a group of reporters and editors who focus on breaking and trending news stories. Previously, he was director of Audience Development, digital director of sports and social media editor for The Post. He has taught courses for the Online News Association, Society for Professional Journalists and the Google News Lab. He continues to write, report and photograph stories on occasion, mostly focusing on adventure sports and endurance events.

Newsroom Hacks That Don’t Require Coding

Maggie Lee headshot

Maggie Lee

Meet some tools that can help you bypass roadblocks and time-sucks on your beat. You’ll go back to your newsroom with some ideas about how to track websites, gather data like tweets and Facebook posts, search Google better, sum and subtotal data with Excel and unlock PDFs.

We’ll also look at some ways to get interactive graphics in your online stories, like Google maps, timelines and graphs — all without coding.

That’ll be followed by group discussion/Q&A. This is geared toward IT beginners who want an intro to data-gathering and presentation tools.

It will be helpful to have: Excel and a Google account (you can make a dummy account if you don’t want to link outside services to your own Gmail.) I’ll also demo some free sites that will require a signup if you want to use them, including:

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who covers state and metro government and politics in Atlanta. Her bylines appear in the Macon Telegraph, Creative Loafing and other publications. Other professional interests include data visualizations and mapping for journalism.

Fannin Focus Report

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt

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 Thomason

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.

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 because of 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.

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. 


LGBT Reporting Tips

This one-hour session will provide ten tips for reporting on LGBT issues and what to keep in mind when reporting on LGBT issues, especially on


Dyana Bagbby

deadline. Advice on resources as well as best practices will be covered. Jessica Fisher will speak on her interview experience for an Atlanta Journal-Constitution cover story on the transgender community and what she feels could have been done differently.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Springs Publishing – Reporter Newspapers & Atlanta INtown. She is the former editor of Georgia Voice, the state’s leading LGBT newspaper and also served as deputy editor of Southern Voice, an LGBT newspaper that served the community for more than 40 years.

Narrative Nonfiction

A two-hour workshop on narrative nonfiction writing for journalists.

Suzanne Van Atten

Suzanne Van Atten

Suzanne Van Atten is editor of Personal Journeys, an award-winning long-form narrative feature that appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she is also the book editor. She is author of “Moon Puerto Rico,” a travel guide now in its fourth edition, and a Pushcart Prize-nominated essayist, who’s been published in The Gettysburg Review, The Chattahoochee Review and Full Grown People. She has taught nonfiction writing classes at Emory University, Emory Continuing Education and Shocking Real Life Learning Center.




MediAtlanta details…


When: Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Cost: Register Here
Questions: Email us

** If you join SPJ as a brand new member between 8/15/2016 and 10/29/2016, you can attend MediAtlanta for FREE. See EventBrite registration category for brand new members (not renewals).