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Newsmaker briefing with Atlanta Mayor & Ethnic Media


RNew America Media in collaboration with Atlanta Black Journalists Association, Hispanic Journalists Association and UGA Grady College of Journalism organized a Newsmaker briefing with ‘Atlanta Mayor Hon. Shirley Franklin and the Ethnic and Community Media of Atlanta, at the Mitchell Room of Old City Hall on Monday, January 26.

This was the first in a series of events building visibility for Atlanta’s robust ethnic media sector. These events lead to New America Media’s national ethnic media Expo and Awards, cosponsored by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication set for June 4-5, 2009 at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency. The founding member of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists,Inc. Stan Washington welcomed all and introduced main sponsor of the event, New America Media’s Executive Editor and Director, Sandy Close, who resides in San Francisco. Sandy, a seasoned journalist launched New America Media ,a nationwide non-profit Association of 2,000 ethnic media outlets to give these outlets greater reach and economic viability. Stan requested the attendees to attend the Expo in June. He further requested the media representatives to introduce themselves by mentioning their names and the media represented.

Sandy Close began with a brief history of NAM, and requested ethnic media to share her vision of collective strength by coming together and sharing content. This will help access Federal, State and City Hall newsrooms and ensure survival with the help of bigger share of advertising dollars as well as Federal and State grants.” This is the future of journalism. They need us more than ever and we need each other’ she said. She went on to thank all the partners and allies as well as all participating in the briefing

Mayor Franklin, in her short but far ranging briefing and Q & A session which followed, touched upon some of the setbacks, and challenges faced by the City in the past seven years and informed the attendees of her plans for the current year. She admitted that during her tenure as Mayor, the city was going through the worst recession forcing her to plan for cuts in projects and programs. The present times called for political will as well as financial muscle and partnership between public and private sector. She said that despite the financial crisis, personally, professionally and morally, she has always believed in and strived to balance the budget. She said she was proud of her record of improving the crumbling infrastructure, especially the city’s sewer system and clean water. “To better serve the Atlantans, we have added the component of technology and sustainability. We have tried to address the problem of homelessness by transitional housing. We are also striving to improve city’s carbon-print and make it a carbon-neutral zone. In transportation, happily due to partnership with airlines, we have improved the facilities at the Atlanta’s Hartsfield International airport. In my view, we need a regional rail within the State and with the help of Federal, State, Corporate funding and private philanthropy, finish the beltline project which will enhance the City of Atlanta’s quality of life. We will do our best to prevent job-losses. We prefer job retention first and job-increases later when the economy rebounds. Improving Healthcare facilities is also an urgent priority-we need more trauma centers for instance,” she said. The Mayor also touched upon Immigration and Sister-City relationships. 
Immigration: “Atlanta is still a primary location for jobs and businesses in metro area. Atlanta has diversity, famed educational institutions, enhanced quality of life, and many amenities. We welcome all legal immigrants.”

Sister-City Relationships: “Atlanta is definitely a global city. These relationships help attract international investment to Atlanta. We have 18 cities in partnership with Atlanta, so instead of rejecting any more requests, we have decided to put a temporary hold till there is an economic recovery”

Editor and Co-Founder of Atlanta Latino newspaper, Judith Martinez thanked the Mayor’s Office staff and catering services. She further thanked the attendees for turning up in large numbers to support the event.

‘India Tribune’ newsweekly’s Atlanta Bureau Chief, Ravi Ponangi, in his ‘Vote of thanks’ on behalf of the ethnic media lauded the Mayor for her informative and insightful speech He appealed to her to allocate budget for ethnic media to help it flourish. He went on to thank Sandy Close. She has infused into traditional mainstream journalism and media, the vibrant experience of the ethnic communities that make up the fabric of mainstream American society. In her efforts to create a more inclusive media, she has given main stream America a unique window into often ignored communities that now shape and influence our American culture. It is her vision to identify, unite and support ethnic journalism in print, broadcast and digital. He also thanked faculty and staff of Grady College of Journalism of University of Georgia for their strong support and partnership with NAM. The College is a pioneer in imparting special training to the needs of ethnic media Journalists through NAM..    


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