Hanging out with journo friends in Atlanta is a good time.
Journalists are intelligent.
They are humorous.
They are informed.
They know people.
People know them.
Because of all these things, they are generally great conversationalists even if they are a bit — or a lot — socially awkward.
They have keen insights and sometimes know far more than they ever put down on paper, so they can tell you things in a whisper.
They always take themselves way too seriously.
And that can be really funny at times.
You can rest assured that you will always learn something hanging out with a room full of journalists.
They are all opinionated, and because they work really hard to report the news straight up and not skew it with their opinions, when you spend time with them socially they can’t contain themselves.
Some of them are world travelers, having worked in dangerous places across the globe in war time, covering uprisings or living in a third-world country.
And then there are some of them who have really lived dangerously, having covered politics in the United States.
All these journalists — friends, colleagues and acquaintances — are great storytellers. Storytelling is what they do for a living so they are well-practiced, and when you spend time with them socially, it is just one riveting story after another. It is better than binge watching Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Then, it is time to come back home, back to South Georgia, back to Lowndes County, back to Valdosta and remember this is where the most important journalism happens.
With a tip of the hat to Tip O’Neill, all journalism is local.
In its purest and most meaningful form, great journalism is about covering city and county government, the board of education or the hospital authority and helping to guard the public purse.
It is about holding local government accountable and fighting for the public’s right to know.
It is about informing people about what is going on in their neighborhoods.
It is about uncovering nepotism, cronyism and good old boyism in local politics.
It is also about telling stories and celebrating all the great things going on in a community.
It is about covering school plays, barbecue cook offs and, of course, the Azalea Festival.
It is about the opening of a new restaurant or a quaint mom and pop store.
It is about the first day of school.
It is about high school football.
Real journalism, journalism that matters, is about all these things.
And, with all due respect and admiration for those high-profile, hardworking, accomplished journo friends and colleagues in Atlanta, there is no better place to do that kind of journalism than right here in South Georgia.