It's been quite a ride these past weeks - coming back to the media business after an absence of 10 years -to work on the launch of "On the Story." (Starting Monday, January 13 at 7 PM.) I happily said good bye to the TV news business back in 2003 after 20 very fulfilling years as the state and national political reporter for WSB-TV. I'd covered the White House and Capitol Hill, five presidential campaigns, countless statewide contests for governor and other offices and 18 sessions of the Georgia General Assembly.
I loved following politics and I liked even more working to communicate in clear and straight forward terms just what was at stake as politicians debated important issues of the day and how their differing views could change outcomes.
But somewhere along the way it stopped being fulfilling for me. Politics stopped being about men and women of good will debating how to deal with thorny public policy issues and looking for common ground to solve them.
And as politics became nastier and the sides became more polarized, as compromise became a dirty word instead of a value to be honored, so too did television's coverage of politics take a turn for the worse. Many cable news shows featuring political conversations started feeling more like episodes of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," where the entertainment value of angry confrontation took the place of reasoned discussion. Some news channels began taking sides, which led many viewers to become skeptical of the entire profession of journalism. At the same time, local TV news, especially, began looking for faster pace in their newscasts which meant less and less time to tell a story, to make sense of complex issues, to compare with some depth the contrasting positions of candidates for office. And so, I decided it was time to move on. Frankly, I never looked back. I was happy working in the non-profit world, having the chance to take leadership in solving some of the community problems that as a journalist I'd simply watch others try to deal with.
And then Teya Ryan, President of GPB called. She told me she, too, had grown weary of TV news that didn't give enough time to smart conversation about important issues; and like me, she was tired of "gotcha" journalism that emphasized all that is wrong with our state instead of calling attention to the remarkable achievements of so many of the people of Georgia. Come to GPB, she said, and lead the effort to do it differently.
I'm especially happy that "On the Story" will present stories on areas of life in our state that don't get much attention from the media these days: arts and culture, technology and innovation, business and agriculture, education, and so much more.
And so that's where I am as I work at my desk on this frigid Friday morning two days after New Year's Day: back in the media business working with a wonderful team of journalists who share the desire to create a program that brings smart people to the table to talk about issues that really matter and to share with you stories about the extraordinary things happening in our state. My New Year's resolution is to direct the effort to create a show you will want to watch again and again.
Happy New Year!