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editor avatar

Kevin Riley

Editor

kriley@ajc.com

From

The Editor

Dear Readers,

As 2019 draws to a close, I want to thank you for reading The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Your support makes it possible for us to provide essential journalism to metro Atlanta and Georgia.

In this special report to you, some of our journalists recount stories of this year. I asked them to share their personal insights about how they got the story and how it touched lives and documented pressing local and regional issues.

In their daily work, our journalists strive to provide information and details so that you can know what’s really going on in your community. They’ve held public officials accountable, uncovered abuse and neglect in senior care facilities, and brought context to difficult issues that we face as a region. We’ve added a new feature to share stories of those making our community better.

For example, reporter Meris Lutz shares her insights into reporting on the ethylene oxide issue and how communities are reacting.

Senior director and managing editor Mark Waligore explains why we launched Inspire Atlanta, as we seek to tell stories such as the one about a 6-year-old boy who kept his promise to his dying dad.

Senior editor Lois Norder recounts how investigative reporters discovered that hundreds of elderly people in Georgia senior care facilities have suffered neglect and abuse -- troubling information that has been hidden from the public.

Photographer Bob Andres shares how he got the remarkable picture of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds streaking over the stadium before this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.

Without you, and the support of businesses who advertise in the AJC, credible and in-depth local reporting wouldn’t be possible. And now, more than ever, the source of information and news matters to all of us. On behalf of everyone at the AJC, thank you. It is an honor to keep you informed and to work to make our community stronger. We remain committed to serving you in 2020 and beyond.

Sincerely,
Kevin G. Riley
Editor
kriley@ajc.com

2019: A YEAR OF ESSENTIAL JOURNALISM

The AJC’s newsroom produces investigations and in-depth journalism that make a difference in our community. It’s hard work, and every day our journalists are committed to credible reporting on issues that matter the most and details you cannot find anywhere else. Thank you for supporting local journalism. Some of the most impactful stories of the year:

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SHEDDING LIGHT

By Lois Norder, Senior Editor, Investigations

Elderly at risk in Georgia senior care homes

An AJC team discovered that hundreds of elderly people in Georgia facilities have suffered neglect and abuse, even at some of the poshest homes. The yearlong investigation of Georgia’s senior care industry, Unprotected, began publishing in September.

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SHEDDING LIGHT

By Ken Foskett, Senior Editor, Investigations

Tax officials use old laws for financial gain

One-third of Georgia's county tax commissioners rake in fees for collecting a city's taxes. To uncover the story, a team of reporters had to submit records requests to 100 counties and 150 cities, seeking salary and fee information and contracts between county tax commissioners and cities in their jurisdictions.

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COVERING COMMUNITIES

By Laura Weaver, Assistant Senior Editor, Local team

Watchdogging your local government

This story came to light from a tip. Local reporter J.D. Capelouto asked questions no elected official had thought to ask and discovered that the promise of affordable housing was made with no understanding between the county and the developer of how much in rent is affordable.

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CELEBRATING ATLANTA

By Sandra Brown, Visuals Senior Editor

Visual journalists put Atlanta Super Bowl in focus

During Super Bowl LIII the AJC’s photographers produced some of the newspaper’s strongest work, striking a balance between generating hard-hitting journalism and providing exclusive behind-the-scenes access.

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SHEDDING LIGHT

By Susan Potter, Senior Editor, State Government and Politics

Journalism that serves democracy

Buried in 15,000 pages of documents, Mark Niesse found details about a precinct where results on one voting machine were different from the rest. By reading through these documents, obtained under Georgia’s open records act, he uncovered a one-in-a-million anomaly turned over to Congress as part of its investigation into allegations that votes disappeared in the race for lieutenant governor.

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SHEDDING LIGHT

By Mike Esterl, Senior Editor, Enterprise

Troubles mount at local Veterans Affairs medical facilities

The AJC has published more than half a dozen articles detailing problems at the VA, including Chris Quinn’s exclusive reporting that the hospital quietly took the unprecedented step of suspending routine surgeries for several weeks amid a breakdown in medical procedures.

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COVERING COMMUNITIES

By Todd Duncan, Senior Editor, Local Government

Keeping you informed about the threat next door

Our work on the Sterigenics saga is led by reporter Meris Lutz. She has become an expert on ethylene oxide by reading numerous studies and documents, and talking to dozens of experts to better understand the issue. She also traveled to Illinois to report on a similar community experience.

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CELEBRATING ATLANTA

By Ligaya Figueras, Food and Dining Editor

There’s more to Waffle House than you ever knew

Our “Mini Guide to Waffle House,” included 12 original stories on what makes the 24/7 Atlanta-based chain restaurant so endearing, and uncovered little known facts about its menu, music, museum and more.

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SHEDDING LIGHT

By Chris Vivlamore, Sports Editor

Real numbers on Falcons, United attendance

Tim Tucker uncovered a serious issue that affects fans in how much they pay for tickets. His reporting showed sports attendance, reported to a state agency, was often misrepresented and fewer people were actually attending games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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COVERING COMMUNITIES

By Todd Duncan, Senior Editor, Local Government

A county honors victims of the South’s hidden history

The work for Tia Mitchell began with research of the three known incidents after the DeKalb County Commission approved a resolution to authorize a lynching marker near the courthouse. Mitchell’s work took her to the Georgia Archives, the National Archives, the DeKalb History Center and the Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library. She researched birth records, death certificates, census data, history books and archival photos.

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COVERING COMMUNITIES

By Laura Weaver, Assistant Senior Editor, Local team

Holding officials’ feet to the landfill's fire

Our local reporter Ben Brasch heard homeowner complaints about a landfill that had been burning for five months. He cut through the red tape created by multiple federal, state and local agencies and a completely unresponsive landowner to write a series of stories on the issue.

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CELEBRATING ATLANTA

By Mark Waligore, Senior Director & Managing Editor

Storytelling that can inspire us all

Real journalism doesn’t just tackle tough problems. It also celebrates our region’s milestones, moments and people. Throughout 2019, we honored people who make metro Atlanta a better place. We also introduced a new feature – Inspire Atlanta.

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PICTURING ATLANTA

By Sandra Brown, Visuals Senior Editor

Behind the lens

The AJC’s visual journalists help tell the story of Atlanta and its people. From breaking news and traffic nightmares to the biggest of games, our photographers were on the scene to document the moments that mattered to our readers. Go behind the scenes and see how they got these photos of the year.

DRAWING THE NEWS

By Andre Jackson, Editorial Editor

From pop culture to politics — with a pen

Mike Luckovich’s cartoons illustrate issues in the news and what people are talking about. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and likes being up on the news, commenting on everything that’s going on.

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NATIONAL IMPACT

By Tim Darnell, National Content Creation

A Georgia-focused eye on the nation

2019 was a year of triumph. And tragedy. One of hope. And heartbreak. Before we embark on 2020, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s content curation desk is taking a look back at the biggest stories of 2019 and their effects on the nation and Georgians.