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BLACK BOX SPECIAL REPORT: JOURNALISM UNDER ATTACK GEORGIA, PART IX

Brian Pritchard acts as ‘conduit’ to readers

Citizen journalists shine light on Georgia

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Brian Pritchard is a citizen journalist who started Fetch Your News in November of 2010. The online news platform has been up for seven years.

“We have reporters assigned to each county,” Pritchard said. “We do community news. We do sports. We run the obituaries. We have an opinion section.”

Fetch Your News covers nine counties in northern Georgia, including Dawson, Lumpkin and White, and one county in North Carolina.
Pritchard started Fetch Your News to write more community-centered news.

“We wanted to have more of a community focus, and write stories that were not being covered in counties by the local print news business at that time,” he said. “I just felt like information was not being provided to the citizens like it should be, so that’s why we started Fetch Your News.”

Pritchard explained that he and his writers try to be as unbiased as possible to be fair to their readers.

“We always tell people if you are trying to figure out what side we’re on, it’s very simple. We are on the citizens’ side all the time,” Pritchard said. “We are a direct conduit source of information to citizens, and that’s why we started it and that’s our focus that we maintain. We do not write for electoral officials. We only write for the citizens.”

In today’s climate where barbs against journalists are common, Pritchard said he has no apprehension when trying to cover a story.
“I don’t think that journalism is under attack in general,” Pritchard said. “I don’t see that; I don’t have that.”

Facing obstructions

However, Pritchard has seen other journalists be held back when trying to obtain information for a story. 

In one case, one of his colleagues, Nydia Tisdale, was thrown out of Burt’s Pumpkin Farm while trying to cover a story.

Tisdale had been videotaping speeches, but she was thrown out and arrested for doing so. Pritchard wrote a story on the event.

“I wrote that story,” Pritchard said. “So I have seen people obstructed from doing stories, but really these are far and few between. Journalism itself, I don’t see under attack.”

Pritchard said some journalists may feel under attack because people have more access to information now than they did before the internet.

He also says that news businesses today have made mistakes that have caused the public to raise questions.

“Media outlets have made some pretty big mistakes, very big mistakes in my eyes, when they report some of their news,” Pritchard said. “Our news is non-biased. We are a clear conduit for the citizens for information. That’s why I feel like we are not under attack.”

Pritchard said it is important for citizens to be informed about their local news so they do not miss out on valuable information such as taxes, fees and events happening in the community.

“A lot of times, citizens do not become aware that they are paying a higher rate on something or paying more…because they may not be keeping up with things,” Pritchard said. “That’s the other side of why we got involved, to make sure citizens were aware of things going on.”

Pritchard is a big proponent of the First Amendment of the Constitution, but he thinks that with rights comes responsibilities.

There should be consequences for one’s actions. He says journalists should still be held to the same standards as regular citizens.

“Is the freedom of the press a green light to lie, mislead, embellish?” he asked. “What are the consequences if any, or is it just freedom to do whatever you want and no consequences?”

The right to a free press must be respected by all sides, he said, especially journalists.

“So freedom of the press, you have to be careful with that,” Pritchard said. “I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, but I am not so sure that everyone should not have consequences for our actions if we mislead people.”

Resources for citizen journalists

Apps
Boomerang - create 6 second looping animated gifs
Internet AWACS - powerful tool for analyzing Twitter accounts & social media use
Photoshop Express - simple way to edit photos on the fly
Signal - encrypted, private SMS and voice chat
TapACell Pro - record outgoing calls
Tweetdeck - Manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule Tweets, powerful view of Twitter searches & hashtags
Vidstitch - create video and photo grids

Fact Checking
American Press Institute
ReDesk

Legal
Digital Media Law Project
PACER Public Access to Court Electronic Records

Research
A Journalist's Guide to the Internet

Social Media
Snitch.Name - Website dedicated to finding people online

General
Citizen Journalist's Press-ure
Knight Digital Media Center Tutorials & Tools

Organizations
The Center for Public Integrity
CIR Center for Investigative Reporting
CJR Columbia Journalism Review
CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists
Fund for Investigative Journalists
Georgia Press Association
ICFJ International Center for Journalists
IRE Investigative Reporters & Editors
J-LAB
Poynter
Pulitzer Center
Society of Professional Journalists
Georgia First Amendment Foundation
Common Cause Georgia


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