Georgia Community Journalism Has Always Been on Mike Buffington’s Mind

A fantastic acceptance speech in June, followed by heartfelt praise from a colleague in July.

This may be as sweet as receiving, last month, the 2015 Eugene Cervi Award from The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE). Praise from a colleague that Mike Buffington, editor and co-publisher of Main Street News, is completely deserving of the honor.

The prize, named in memory of the late former Rocky Mountain Journal editor, recognizes a lifetime of public service through community journalism. And it was in fact 50 years ago that Buffington’s parents sold everything they had and purchased a failing weekly newspaper in northeast Georgia. From Pete McCommonspiece in Flagpole, a paper based in Athens:

Mike started out working for his parents, Herman and Helen Buffington, who owned The Jackson Herald and personified the kind of family journalism we used to have in most Georgia towns. Mike is not only a good newspaper man, he has to do it up close and personal in a small town where he knows everybody, everybody knows him and many of them are friends of his.

As Mike put it in an editorial a couple of years ago: “In a small community, just about everybody is friends or acquaintances with everyone else to some degree. Often newspapers are accused of favoring their ‘friends’ in some way or another. But the truth is, just about everyone we cover in a small town is in some way a ‘friend.’ Still, we don’t let that kind of thing color how we cover local governments.”

Buffington was sparked towards journalism as a youth by a very dramatic incident. His company owns several other papers. Read the rest of McCommons’ article here.

P.S. The June 27 speech given by Buffington is fantastic, right down to the three funny anecdotes he ends it with.