Beat Report Questions

How do you come at this beat?

  • For me, the most important thing I need to do when coming at the downtown beat is to keep an unbiased eye. I am seriously passionate about this town and am known to root for the local shop owner and band, so I need keep impartial when reporting. I also think a huge part of covering the downtown beat will be interviewing a variety of sources from shop owners, to clients, and competitors, etc.

    In the past couple years there is this new movement of portraying how cool Athens is through groups like My_Athens and Explore Athens, which I completely support. Seeing how I share many views with them and interests for story, I want to insure I find a fresh way to tell the stories of downtown.

What parts of it have you experienced, and in what contexts?

  • Downtown is place I spend a lot of my time in Athens. From dining at various eateries every week to simply walking my Hancock to Clayton route to class, I seem to experience downtown Athens almost everyday. The aspects of the town that I’ve involved myself in the most would be the music scene at the Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt Club, trying out restaurants, and exploring the local shops. I’ve photographed the music scene before, but most of my experience downtown comes from the perspective of a patron.

What makes your perspective different from anyone else’s?

  • I’m someone who really loves the specifics. No matter how small a story or profile may seem, the specifics make the story rich. So, while a huge headline telling you everything you need to know is extremely helpful when skimming the news, the stories I write are about people and what makes that story unique and notable.

And what do you need to learn to orient yourself to this beat?

  • I definitely want to familiarize myself with the shop owners downtown and the workers at local theaters. But also, a story that no one seems to be chasing is how are the new shop owners responding to entering to a predominantly small-business minded town. It’s important to see all sides of the story, including that of the customer. I want to examine how my generation, teachers, and local residents are all responding to these changes downtown and if their opinions differ, why?

What questions do you have and where do you need to go for the answers?

  • Sure, local businesses are in trouble and there’s a new Zaxby’s, but what’s the real story? What are the shop owners opinions and their stories? Who are they? What makes their business or craft special? How do they differentiate themselves from other small businesses or artists?

    Also as said above, new stores come and go here but some have managed to stay. What are the keys to success here? Is it a specific market that’s staying alive or just individual stores?

I need to go straight to the source for some of these questions by speaking with artists, business owners, customers, and competitors to create a well rounded report.

Downtown Athens Beat- Topic Ideas

Historic Georgia Theatre marquee photographed in Athens, Georgia, on October 20, 2015. (Photo/Ansley Walker,

“Welcome to downtown Athens, it’s all here.”

When asking a typical University of Georgia student what they love most about their college, the responses usually rank: SEC football, interesting classes, and O-House chicken fingers. But for me, a music-loving, french fry-eating young woman who would rather attend a poetry reading than have my Saturday plans abducted by large men in tights tackling each other the answer is simple. I love downtown. The downtown area acts as the glue which holds the Athens community together. Students, teachers, local residents, tourists, people from all walks of life congregate downtown to experience all that Athens has to offer. From a music scene that produced the likes of R.E.M. and the B-52s, to a new culinary adventure at every corner and a bar scene so vast and diverse that any visitor can find something to love, Athens is one of the most unique towns in the south.

My interest, and apparent passion, for Athens roots itself in my familial history. My maternal grandparents, six aunts and uncles, parents, and my older brother have all studied at the UGA. Acting as my family’s self appointed epicenter, Athens holds a special place in my heart. However, even without family ties, I believe Athens attracts a variety of people for diverse reasons. Over the semester, I aim to portray the stories and people that define the term “Athens Made” and showcase the best our town has to offer.

Topics I’m interested in reporting on focus around the small businesses that keeps Athens so unique and the historic music scene. Examples of topics can be found in the stories below.

Small Business Profiles:

How Small Businesses are Disappearing:


Athens Music and Entertainment:


Music Reviews and Interviews:


People Who Make Athens Special: