Emory University Campus

The 2019 ISWNE conference in Atlanta, Georgia, is starting to take shape.

The event will take place June 19-23 on the beautiful campus of Emory University, one of the nation’s Top 25 universities, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The conference will kick off on Wednesday afternoon, June 19, where we’ve invited former Georgia Democratic Party chairman Dubose Porter and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to discuss how a strong “red” state is quickly becoming “purple.” Porter is a Georgia newspaper publisher in addition to having a long and distinguished career in state politics.

Also on the agenda is Hank Kilbanoff, co-author of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation, which won the Pulitzer for History in 2007. Kilbanoff is a former reporter and current professor at Emory, where he directs the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project. His podcast is fascinating.

We will wrap up Wednesday night with a reception at the Carlos Museum on the Emory campus.

On Thursday, June 20, we’re taking a trip out of metro Atlanta into the suburbs, exurbs and rural area of northeast Georgia. Along the way, we’ll discuss the bitter newspaper war that raged in Atlanta in the 1990s between the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We’ll also discuss the problems surrounding publishing a weekly newspaper in exurban Atlanta in a community that has rapidly developed with a number of high-dollar gated subdivisions where the definition of “community” is very different than traditional small towns.

We also plan to visit one of the area’s massive Amazon distribution centers to see inside how e-commerce is done and how distribution centers are changing the face of the community.

The highlight of our day’s excursion will be to rural Homer and the Georgia Weekly Newspaper Museum. The museum is on the site where a newspaper began publishing in 1888. It has all the original letterpress equipment from the late 1800s and early 1900s that was used to publish a small town weekly newspaper into the late 1960s.

As we tour the museum and discuss how small town weekly newspapers used to be published, we’ll also have a southern BBQ lunch across the street on a lawn in front of the community’s historic old courthouse.

On Friday, we’re back on the Emory campus for a full day of hands-on training. Friday morning will be devoted to our annual critique sessions where we examine and discuss each other’s editorial pages. In the afternoon, we plan three sessions: “How to Write a Damn Good Editorial” from a panel of former Golden Quill winners; another session from Andy Schotz using the AP Stylebook about writing dynamics; and a panel from our members around the world to discuss the state of community newspapers in their home countries.

On Saturday, we will start the day with a look at a unique program that helps refugees from around the world resettle into a rural Georgia retreat center to prepare them for life in the United States. We plan to have a couple of refugees address our group to tell their stories of how they ended up in the U.S. and what they think about the current issues surrounding immigration and refugees in the nation.

We will finish up the morning with our annual business meeting, a tribute to ISWNE members who died the past year, and closing of our silent auction.

Saturday night will be our awards banquet where the best of the best will be recognized.

Those are some of the programs we have planned for this year’s ISWNE conference. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at mike@mainstreetnews.com.

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