Grist for the mill: College student runs for office, a really mean Waffle House server and a winning lottery ticket

Greetings, kind readers. Here is our weekly feature on The Yeast called “Grist for the mill,” which is a rundown of the local news media. I will look for the most interesting and newsworthy stories across the three-county area and deliver them with commentary. I am aware these newspapers have small staffs with people dedicated to the craft, so my hope is that whatever analysis I provide is offered as constructive feedback and not intended to tear people down.

Your tax dollars at work:

On Common Ground has an interesting story about a 19-year-old being allowed to run for a Stonecrest city council seat. An opponent had challenged her age arguing she was too young to seek elected office. The DeKalb Board of Elections thought otherwise. The story is here. The Champion also covered this story and filed an update as the college-student-runs-for-office story gained legs, as they say in the newspaper biz (TV and national news outlets started picking up on the story).

The Champion reports on the hiring of a new football coach at Southwest DeKalb, but that “controversy surrounds” the hire. The controversy? To me, it appears the controversy was school alumni stirring up trouble and confusion on Facebook. The story is here.

The Citizen reports on Rockdale County’s new Comprehensive Transportation Plan. All counties and cities have transportation plans, and to be honest, they can be dry reading. Larry Stanford does an admirable job covering everything discussed at the BOC work session on the county road plan. However, part of having a plan is to identify road projects the county wants to target for funding. The last update to the transportation plan was in 2010, according to the article. Which road projects did the county complete from that plan? Which projects remain? I think the reader and county taxpayers would like to see some results from work on the transportation plan. This story does not tell us.

Not much early from the Newton County Board of Commissioners. The Citizen reports on a county road restriping project here. Newton County names an interim county fire chief in a press release reported on by the News here (paid subscription required).

An audit of the Housing Authority of Covington shows questionable costs, according to the Covington News’ story here. The story follows another where the Housing Authority director resigned (paid subscription required).

The Citizen has a roundup story on the Rockdale school board meeting. Most interesting item was the development of an online tool for parents to look up all kinds of information on a child’s school district, bus routes and bus stop arrival time. The story is here.

On Common Ground reports on a town hall meeting around something called “Georgia Resists.” The story is a press release rewrite that states the group is a “political organizing tool” by the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in response to “the dangerous Trump administration.” The story is here. This story also warrants my pet peeve below.

The most interesting person of the week:

The Citizen reports here on efforts of the community group, Newton Trails, to pave a portion of an old railroad line through Covington that will eventually become a 15-mile bike and pedestrian path from Covington to Mansfield. Newton County trail building follows similar projects such as the Rockdale River Trail in Rockdale County, Arabia Mountain Trail in DeKalb County, Silver Comet Trail in Cobb County and the Atlanta Beltline.

Being Valentine’s Day, Wade Marbaugh worked up a nice feature piece on how couples met. The story is here.

The Covington News had a report on a West Newton convenience store selling a lottery ticket worth $9.6 million. The story, sans paywall, is here.

Public Enemy No. 368:

You do not want to mess with Waffle House servers. The Citizen reports that a man attempted to rob a Waffle House on Alcovy Road only to leave empty-handed. The server at the cash register called his bluff. The story is here.

Conyers Police got help from a citizen who witnessed a robbery at a Dollar General, saw the getaway vehicle, then followed it to a nearby apartment complex before calling 911. The story is here.

The Covington News reports on a possible murder-suicide here.

The News also reports the sad news of the death of a Georgia State Patrol trooper here behind their paywall. The Citizen’s story, which I am sure is just as informative, is here.

Local media pet peeve of the week:

Heavy use of press release rewrites is my pet peeve this week. Every paper had their share of rewrites, and a lot of them can’t be helped. There is only one way to report a local man promoted to regional sales manager for a wholesale spirits distributor, here.

However, if you make that press release one of your leading online stories like what On Common Ground did with the “Georgia Resists” piece, I think you do a disservice to your readers. My thinking is that communication specialists write press releases only to tell the audience their side of the story. Journalists can dig a little deeper to expand and explain. OCG leads with a meeting announcement that will be led by two state legislators. How hard would it have been to try to get a quote or find out what is “Georgia Resists” is beyond the press release’s boilerplate definition?

The lead story only provides a date, time, location and a link to a Website. And yes, maybe this is all this story needs. But then why encourage readers to go off your Website to find out more about a story? Give them as much information as possible next to those pretty, pretty paid advertisements, I say.

 

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