georgia

#GoodMorningAtlanta: Photos from 11/3-11/7

In October 2014 I began posting a photo every weekday morning with the hashtag #GoodMorningAtlanta. The goal? To inspire, enlighten, or just plain help others start their day with a smile. See each week’s photos by clicking on the #GoodMorningAtlanta category, and view the daily photo by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

This week’s theme? Snow. In Georgia. In November.

It happened … and I naturally chose to hike in it.

The fall colors of the north Georgia mountains faced a mighty challenge this past weekend from four inches of white. Snow fell atop the highest points in Georgia, and it created a beautiful winter wonderland. Enjoy: (more…)

PODCAST EPISODE #20: Paul Crawley, reporter, WXIA-TV

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Of all the qualities and personality traits I will miss about Paul Crawley, I will miss one the most:

He is, every day, on time for work.

More than that, he is early for work.

Rare is the day at 11Alive when our 9:30 morning meeting actually begins at 9:30. Typically it kicks off at 9:35 with a sparse crowd in attendance, and then most reporters arrive in the next 5-10 minutes. They can show up a little late because they generally remain secure in the fact that (A) they will still have a job tomorrow, and (B) as long as they show up with strong story pitches, all will be forgiven.

Paul Crawley plays by the same rules, and given his longevity and continued value to the station, he could probably get away with pulling into the 11Alive parking lot at 10 AM each day.

But he shows up before 10, and even before 9.

Crawley arrives at 8:45 AM every morning. He then spends the next 45 minutes making calls, scouring local media web sites across metro Atlanta, and filling up a notepad page with potential stories for the coming day.

Not surprisingly, he almost always contributes more story ideas than anyone else at the table.

On July 31st, Crawley will retire from WXIA-TV in Atlanta after 36 years at the station — and more than four decades in the industry. He has won seven regional Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow award, covered just about every beat imaginable, and recently volunteered to become a backpack journalist … after three decades of working as a traditional reporter.

Crawley is my latest guest on the Telling The Story podcast. (more…)

Letters and life lessons along the Appalachian Trail

The following post has little — at least directly — to do with journalism or storytelling.

Just life.

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I found myself with a rare opportunity this past week. Having filled in for a coworker on the Saturday morning shift, I was given as compensation a day off the following Monday.

That meant a day off … during the week … with no responsibilities or errands to run.

I instantly headed for the mountains.

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I arrived in Atlanta five years ago and quickly became enamored with hiking in north Georgia. Having grown up in the far less scenic state of New Jersey, and spent my early adult years in the relative flatlands of Chicago, Sioux City, Ia., and Buffalo, N.Y., I reveled in the majesty of the mountains, filling my early Atlanta weekends with whatever hikes I could find. By my third summer down South, I had hiked nearly every major trail in Georgia — and some, to boot, in South Carolina and Tennessee.

But in recent years, I had begun to slack off, facing more pressing commitments on the weekends and simply losing some of my early hiking momentum. Aside from that, my knees had become a nagging concern, which made me more hesitant to take on the mountains with the same cavalier spirit of years prior.

Earlier this month I downloaded Bill Bryson’s classic travel book, A Walk in the Woods, in which Bryson and an old friend attempt to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from start (in Georgia) to finish (in Maine). This is a classic “holy grail” trip among hikers; every year hundreds of hikers take half a year off and make the trek. Bryson, I soon discovered, is every bit as masterful a writer as I had heard, and he presents the famous trail as a truly fascinating, fulfilling experience.

Turning the pages of his book, I quickly regained my desire to scale the north Georgia mountains.

And I suddenly found myself with just the day to do it. (more…)

MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: A tale of two Atlanta bosledders

The state of Georgia, with its scorching summers, may not seem like a hotbed of the bobsled.

And yet, in the past five years, the Peach State has produced two of America’s best.

Getting to know them has been a fascinating part of my Olympics journey.

I met Elana Meyers in 2009, months before she won the bronze medal in bobsled in the 2010 Winter Games. I followed her through the journey, from training in Lake Placid through her post-medal celebration in Vancouver. I interviewed family members and learned a great deal about her path to Olympic success.

But in the past four years, I have received a fuller picture.

Meyers is an active presence on Twitter and in the blogosphere. In fact, so are many of her teammates and fellow Olympians. And these athletes, unlike those in the major American sports, use their online platform to go into great detail about their lives.

And the lives of winter sports athletes are extremely atypical — and, some might say, full of contradictions.

First, consider this: Athletes like Meyers are professionals and among the best in the world at their sports. They shine on the world’s largest stage every four years; they receive access to some of the most advanced sporting equipment and technology; and they get to travel the world annually during their sports’ seasons.

Now, consider this: Athletes like Meyers often have to work part-time jobs to raise money for extra gear. They have a six-month off-season in which many study at online universities for their degrees. They rarely receive endorsements, have to hunt for sponsors, and, except for the Olympics, toil in anonymity despite their elite level of competition.

Perhaps that’s why athletes like Meyers put themselves out there online. They offer a window to anyone who is interested into their truly unique existences.

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3 GREAT STORIES OF THE WEEK: Starring a kidney transplant, an NFL war room, and a big move

Every week, I will shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Telling different kinds of stories requires equally varied ranges of sensitivity. Some require tenderness and care; others require aggression and investigation.

Most stories, no matter what kind, require the attention and discipline to capture the emotions of the parties involved.

This past week, I saw three pieces that stood out because of the storyteller’s ability to convey the emotions of the scene:

Heartwarming gift: Inside a little girl’s kidney transplant (5/6/13, WJW-TV Cleveland): This piece is somewhat simple in scope: the sights and sounds as a teacher donates a kidney to one of her students. Reporter/photojournalist Annette Lawless presents it in documentary form, somewhat; she keeps herself out of it and lets the people speak for themselves.

This is a bold decision … and it really works.

Lawless captures the before, during, and after of the transplant, including many of its powerful moments. But she really shines in terms of presentation: from the time-lapse at the beginning to the quick cuts in the waiting room that transition from scene to scene. With these moves, without saying a word, she drops the viewer right in the world of the story.

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