Saturday, December 5, 2015

Associate introduction, Part I

With the inaugural issue of the Gulf Coast Reporters' League Business Quarterly scheduled to publish in a month, I figured now is a good time to begin introducing you to the journalists who are participating in this publishing venture. There are a lot of associates, so I'll split this up into multiple posts over the next few weeks.

Why the introductions? On the Internet we're inundated with information, and often we're not really sure where it's coming from or what standards are used. But with our magazine you'll have no doubt who is behind it, nor will you have to wonder if there's a hidden agenda.

We're all locals, all experienced journalists who want to bring you the business coverage you deserve. We base what we write on what we think is interesting or important. We don't take our marching orders from outside the region, and we don't measure the value of our stories on “clicks.” We want to engage our readers to think about this region, what it is and what it can be. The most valuable asset of this magazine is our team and the more than 500 years of combined experience they have covering news.

So let me start the introductions.

Connie Baggett, of Brewton, Ala., was one of my reporters when I was the regional editor of the Mobile Press-Register about 15 years ago. Like other reporters from the regional team, she worked outside the main office. She's a self-starter who didn't need constant supervision to do her job, and to do it well. In no time I came to rely on her as one of my go-to reporters.

She has more than 20 years experience as a reporter for the Mobile paper, and nearly a decade as a political strategist and public relations coordinator. She's a 1989 graduate of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, a former workforce training coach and currently serves as director of program management for the city of Brewton.

She's the mother of three, and a singer/songwriter.

"I have always been a person who wanted to know the truth, get the answers first-hand," she wrote when I asked her why she wanted to get involved in the magazine. "Communicating a story in straightforward terms and painting word pictures has always come easily for me, making journalism part of who I am. I never decided to be a journalist – I just am."

You might say you can take Connie out of journalism, but you can't take journalism out of Connie.

"Wherever I happen to be working, I am always a journalist at the end of the day. Writing is how my mind works, and I trust in the other reporters in the League to bring a wealth of experience and professionalism to this effort. They earned my respect a long time ago," she wrote.

In our January issue, Connie will be one of the contributors to our story about the renaissance of downtown areas in the Gulf Coast region, and she'll also have a story about the do-it-yourself trend and the Makers movement.

Over to the west in Baton Rouge, La., Timothy Boone will handle our magazine's coverage in the Southeast Louisiana area. I worked with Tim at the Sun Herald, the largest paper in South Mississippi, for about five years. He was a young reporter at that time, but it was clear to me that he was very talented.

In fact, when I started my own business nearly 10 years ago, Tim was one of the first folks I had do some freelance work for me. But I must tell you, one of his big contributions to our team at the Sun Herald was his sense of humor. For anyone who has worked in the high-pressure environment of a newsroom, that's a quality that is very important and refreshing.

Tim has more than 20 years of experience working for newspapers and business magazines in Louisiana and Mississippi. He has covered beats ranging from casinos to real estate. In addition to the Sun Herald, he has worked for the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, the Daily Iberian, Mississippi Press, the Advocate and Baton Rouge Business Report.

"I'm proud to be a part of the Business Quarterly and joining a team of hard-working, skilled veteran journalists," he said. "There's a need for a publication that goes deeper to look at broader trends and issues, because there's so much interconnectivity in the region and businesses operating across state lines."

In the January issue, Tim has a story about how the Gulf of Mexico has become a major hot spot for research in the wake of the BP oil spill. The numbers he's come up with will give you an indication of just how important it's become. He'll also be doing our quarterly review of Southeast Louisiana business news.

In the next posting, I'll introduce you to more members of our team. -- David Tortorano, editor

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