Publisher Mark Thomason shocked the press, something that is tough to do.
Alarms sounded when news reporters were alerted to Thomason’s imprisonment by Judge Brenda Weaver, especially over the false allegations of some mysterious form of identity theft. Theft she alleged was aimed at her and at her conduct as a judge, nonetheless.
This was an easy call for the press, though.
Knowing that Thomason was on a journalistic mission to obtain information about possible financial impropriety by the court, the news media in Georgia and beyond began circling him in support. Peeling back the obscured layers of judicial actions and rulings became more exciting by the week.
The information Thomason was after relates to what appeared to be a financial favor done for another court professional, and it is information that we – citizens and the press – have a right to see and to report on to the public.
At the same time, judicial codes of conduct are formally coming into the spotlight in Georgia. We are days away from the vote on Amendment 3 – have you read the language on the ballot yet?
This isn’t just a Georgia issue, though; not by a long-shot. Around the country thousands of voices are clamoring for oversight of our courts, and in Georgia there is a deep divide over how this oversight will be managed and by whom. I happen to believe this spotlight couldn’t have come at a better time.
Make sure to study this issue and vote in November, no matter how over politics you may feel, or which alien life form you lean toward.
If you were not familiar with The Fannin Focus, and the terms freedom of the press, JQC, open records requests and false allegations, you were given a quick education if you followed any of more than a dozen or so news reporters and media organizations in Georgia. This education came in waves over the course of weeks, and the lessons are only just beginning. The national recognition given to Mark Thomason for being steadfast, resourceful and convicted about bringing the truth to light is well-deserved. Please follow Thomason on Twitter using @Fannin_Focus.
Thomason is now known as much more than a Publisher.
Thomason shows up in support of critical discussions, and is an advocate for journalists learning from his wrongful arrest. With a wicked sense of humor he’s quick to point out that it’s important to both know your rights and to be in good company when investigating judges and reporting on court activity! During our first meeting I expected to hear about some ambition to take his notoriety to another level, to what some might call a higher or more visible level in the press world. It is hard to shock me after all I’ve investigated in Georgia, after spending time in the trenches with reporters and advocates, but I was humbled in meeting him. The most important work is what he is doing now, right here in his rural area of Georgia.
Thomason is in the beautiful Blue Ridge community, but as he’s shown us with his investigations, things are not always as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Inside the courtrooms and government offices, that is.
This is where Solutions-Based Journalism comes in.
Now that we can see how common this problem of judicial misconduct is in Georgia, we can start to address it more aggressively. Please keep the investigations and reporting going in your area and let us know if you would like to contribute here on Pro Advocate Radio.
Pro Advocate Radio will continue to follow what I see as a national story gone local, and to provide context for our audience, as this assault on civil rights is highly relevant…and timely.
Protect freedom of the press by following and supporting The Fannin Focus.
Photo credit: Society of Professional Journalists
National Society of Professional Journalists’ Spirit of Excellence Convention, New Orleans, 2016 | Mark Thomason, Publisher, Fannin Focus and now notorious filer of open records requests.
To learn more about the discussion of the pending vote on the Judicial Qualifications Commission, watch here: