Mark Garrison, Head of Publishers UK for Opinary: Guest Curator for December 2018-January 2019

To further our mission to not only craft and showcase journalism at Grady, but also talk about the process and quality of reporting itself, each guest curator has highlighted what he or she sees as the five “don’t want to miss” pieces posted to Grady Newsource that month, along with a few sentences of constructive reflection about the journalism.

About This Month’s Guest Curator 

Mark Garrison is Head of Publishers UK for Opinary, a startup helping news outlets enhance their journalism and expand their resources through better audience engagement. An award-winning journalist, he has previously worked as an anchor, manager and reporter in the US and abroad for outlets such as CNN, CNBC, Marketplace and NPR. Through a Knight-Bagehot fellowship, he studied at Columbia Business School. He is also a graduate of the University of Georgia.

"Your Lease, Decoded: Know What You Are Signing When Entering Into Rental Contract" by Arden Baila, Becca Beato, Christina Conner and Kendall Lake

This was a great example of journalism that provides immediate, clear value for the audience. People who see this will be empowered to save money and make better choices about their living arrangements. The piece did a great job of translating a dense government document into a streamlined story with several useful tips, through clear writing and an innovative graphic approach.

"Beyond The Lines: Revealing The Experiences Of Student-Athletes" by Katie Morrison and Rodrigo Blankenship

The series used multiple storytelling formats to give the audience a behind the scenes look into an interesting world, demolishing stereotypes about student-athletes in the process. This was also an example of a type of story where the first-person perspective of a reporter was valuable, with Rodrigo Blankenship sharing insights only he can provide. The graphic of his busy schedule was especially effective.

"New Development Proposal In East Athens Raises Concerns Among Some Current Residents" by Benjamin Tankersley

This could have been a dry story about a community meeting. But the piece about the vital issue of housing affordability becomes vivid with the inclusion of voices from the community. Using an audio clip was a smart choice, as this more effectively conveys the passion and urgency of the speaker. The piece also does a good job of very concisely explaining how the Athens Land Trust functions.

"Fields Of Technology: Some Local High Schools Augment Coaching, Playing With Technology" by Tyler Donaldson

This could have been just a sports story, or just a tech story. Instead, the piece smartly blends elements interesting to sports and tech fans, broadening the potential audience for the piece. Better still, it also includes how this trend relates to the digital divide, an important issue of our times and a non-obvious angle that further expands the appeal of the story. The drone footage from high above the field greatly enhanced the story.

"Stairway To Nowhere: Investigation Of UGA Building Leads To Ghost Story" by Holly Roberts

This was a fun story that revealed a quirky piece of Athens history that many people—including me—are likely unaware of, even if they’ve walked by the building dozens of times. Who knew that UGA was one of the 10 most haunted campuses? The story efficiently carries the audience through the search for answers, using a transparent reporting process that enhances the storytelling.