The topic of conversation came up among some ardent Atlantans around where they read their news. Better yet, if there is a story, who do you go to? The AJC used to be the clear favorite and the consensus is that if an interesting link shows up, it is worth a click.
The answers to a seemingly simple question were all over the map.
Not surprising, Wikipedia’s Media in Atlanta page is extensive. TV, Radio, Newspapers, and Magazines are traditional categories but none of them cover areas where eyeballs spend most of their time in 2021. For example, Nextdoor, Twitter, Linkedin, podcasts and ATLScoop were the immediate responses. Twitter and LinkedIn naturally link to blog posts and articles from many of the media outlets but user-generated content is prevalent as well. Nextdoor, Facebook / Instagram accounts, and the plethora of good newsletters that haven’t received the unction of being labeled under the “Online-only newspapers” on Wikipedia are major reasons the pulse of Atlanta media is splintered, so much so, I’m worried we are not getting any oxygen to the heart or the brain.
I subscribe to several newsletters that focus on specific areas in Atlanta. For example, on local technology news, Hypepotamus and Atlanta Inno are my go-to’s. On business in Atlanta, the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s paywall is good enough for the headlines. Popular Instagram page turned to entertaining newsletter on culture is Butter ATL. SaportaReport produces regular, quality civic updates. The new Atlanta Civic Circle and community lead Canopy Atlanta fill in hyper-local gaps. RIP to Creative Loafing that is now a monthly, I think. WABE’s Political Breakfast is the paragon of a common sense, political podcast.
Atlanta Intown or Northside Neighbor are good, intermittent peruses. Monthly magazine, Atlanta Magazine is doing their best to put out relevant stories with some of the best writing in the city. Writers like King Williams are doing relentless work sporadically aggregating news and giving their side of the story.
Traditional media, particularly local TV is a rare occasion for me mainly from a time commitment but hundreds of thousand of people a night watch it. WSB is still king. WABE is and likely will always be the news outlet with the greatest depth of local stories that are important but normally not urgent.
I know I’m missing a 75-85 truckload of outlets but who can keep up with so much fracture in the local news?
On top of it all, include hundreds of Twitter accounts and several almost full-time Instagram accounts, particularly on the culinary side, and there is SO much.
My main point: the pulse is missing.
How is this problem solved? Two popular examples provide a glimpse of clever outlets aggregating news that at least takes some of the heavy lifting off the consumer.
First, in the tech industry, the All-In podcast has found a very popular structure and voice of taking the 5 or so biggest stories of the week, mostly in technology but they creep into politics — mostly local San Francisco and California politics — as four sharp and savvy investors / entrepreneurs debate each topic. They analyze and offer unfettered opinions on each subject creating a refreshing take.
Second, Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution is a firehose of aggregated stories and links to interesting articles across the day’s news and topics. Tyler does less analysis and more aggregation but he is training like an athlete every day through his readings and writings. He’s prolific — so much so — I changed my subscription setting to get one email a day versus every time he publishes.
Imagine an Atlanta that has 3 or 4 plugged-in and in-tune hosts discussing 3-5 topics a week on Atlanta and fosters intelligent context for each one. Or, someone who aggregates all the interesting news of note and sends it out daily to the masses. The latter is likely a full time job.
Either way, Atlanta is in the perfect position for a person or outlet to consolidate news — urgent and important — and provide context in a popular way. Voice is paramount and also the fun of it!