Lisa Schnellinger, journalist and media developer in Iraq, Afganistan and 17 other countries, Big Canoe, GA
Sara Borton, publisher, The Island Packet, Hilton Head, Island, SC
Valerie Canepa, publisher, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, GA
George McCanless, publisher, Macon Telegraph, Macon, GA
Martin Kaiser, executive editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, WI
W.A. Bridges, Jr., staff photographer, Atlanta Journal-Contitution, Atlanta, GA
William Anderson Bridges Jr. aka “W.A.” was born in Louisville Kentucky sixty years ago to a father who was a photography enthusiast. Young William never shared his father’s passion for photography until many years later. W.A. spent the ages of 10-14 living in Frankfurt Germany where he first purchased a camera and began a true interest in taking pictures. Graduating from Niagara Falls High School in 1967, it wasn’t until 1972, when W.A. was faced with the prospect of working for Philip Morris thru 2013, that he made a solid decision to pursue a career in photography. After two years of liberal arts at Jefferson Community College in Louisville W.A. moved to Georgia and completed an Associates Degree at the Art Institute of Atlanta, graduating in 1976. Unsure just what discipline of photography he wanted to pursue and contemplating a deep passion for feature films, W.A. kept his college work-study job as a darkroom technician at the Baptist Home Mission Board while still aggressively honing his craft. Three years later preparation met opportunity and W.A. was hired as a photojournalist by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Georgia’s most prominent newspaper. It was the beginning of a career that would span nearly three decades. After an impressive rookie year that saw W.A.’s portfolio judged to sixth overall in the Atlanta Photo Seminar, W.A. began to steadily improve as a photojournalist and was therefore awarded prominent national and international assignments. Over the years assignments sent W.A. to all parts of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, plus some regions of the United States and Canada. He covered stories about Herschel Walker at UGA, the Black Belt, Chief Alfred Anderson and the Tuskegee Airmen, all of Georgia’s high school, college and pro sports teams plus the many day to day stories of life in the common place. His international assignments sent him to Germany and Austria to cover a story on “Weidergutmachung” which was Germany’s reparations to WW II Jews. In Montserrat he covered the explosion of the Soufriere Hills volcano. In Alaska he covered the Exxon Valdez oil spill and in Tokyo W.A. covered the announcement of Atlanta’s successful 1996 Olympic bid. In Mali West Africa he covered cotton production for a story on American cotton subsidies. W.A.’s coverage of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison earned him the paper’s Pulitzer nomination in 1990. His coverage of the Rodney King reaction riots in Atlanta earned him the Cox Photographer of the year. He is the only AJC staff photographer to receive both honors. Other recognitions have come from the Associated Press, the United Press International and the National Association of Black Journalists. Having taken a buyout from the AJC in 2007, W.A. is now pursuing his dream of making motion pictures with his company called QuadVisions.
Valerie Canepa is publisher and president of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. She has been in the newspaper business for 21 years. A native of Searcy, AR, with a BA in journalism from the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville), she started her newspaper career as a freelance writer covering a Navy court martial in an AIDS-related assault case. The coverage, from Treasure Island, CA, led to a full-time job as a general assignment reporter for the Arkansas Gazette, a Pulitzer-prize winning statewide daily in Little Rock.
In her career, she has worked as a police reporter and a federal courts reporter for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, a staff writer for Spectrum, an alternative weekly in Little Rock, and a crime/courts editor for The Fresno Bee. She moved into newspaper management in 1997.
This is her second assignment as publisher. She worked at the The Herald in Rock Hill, SC, for five years before being named publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer in November 2007.
Before settling into a career in newspapers, she lived in San Francisco, where she worked in advertising, as an account executive and copywriter. In college, she sold advertising for the student newspaper and worked nights as a telemarketer. She is an avid tennis player, a Rotarian, and has served on numerous nonprofit boards and committees. She worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Fresno, representing neglected and abused children.
Martin Kaiser has been editor and senior vice president of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel since 1997. He joined The Milwaukee Journal in 1994 as managing editor and became managing editor of the Journal Sentinel when The Journal merged with the Milwaukee Sentinel in April 1995. The Journal Sentinel won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 2008 and was a finalist in explanatory reporting in 2003 and 2006. He was named Editor of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine in 2009. Kaiser is President of the American Society of News Editors. He has twice been a Pulitzer juror.
Before joining the Journal Sentinel, Kaiser worked 10 years at the Baltimore Sun, where he was sports editor, assistant managing editor, deputy managing editor and associate managing editor.
Kaiser also was sports editor of the Chicago Sun-Times for four years before going to Baltimore. He began his career at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and also worked for the Clearwater Sun before joining the Sun-Times sports department.
He is a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and completed Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management Advanced Executive Program. He has two children who live and work in the Washington, D.C. area. He and his wife, Claudia, live in Shorewood, WI.
McCanless received a BS in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and completed courses for accounting degree at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
McCanless began his career in the home furnishings industry. In 1983, he became finance director for The Herald, Rock Hill, SC. In 1996, he became chief financial officer of the New Haven Register. He joined the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, NY, in 1997 as director of administration. In May 2000, he accepted the position of vice president/finance with the Raleigh News and Observer. He was promoted to senior vice president/finance and strategic planning in 2004.
McCanless was named president and publisher of The Telegraph in 2008.
In Macon, he is a member of the boards of The Harriet Tubman Museum of African American History, The United Way of Central Georgia, The American Cancer Society and The Macon Chamber of Commerce.
Lisa Schnellinger has been a journalist since 1980 and a media trainer since 1996. She has taught journalism in 19 countries and managed media training projects in Egypt, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Armenia.
Schnellinger earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kent State University in Ohio. Her career as a reporter, editor and essay writer began at the Warren Tribune Chronicle in Ohio as an intern and general assignment reporter.
From 1984 to 1995 she worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where she was covered environment, education, politics, social issues and the Pacific Rim. She also served as a news editor and foreign desk editor at the P-I. During a year’s leave in 1991-92, she worked as an editor with China Daily in Beijing.
She became a freelancer in 1996, but continued as a part-time editor on the P-I news desk and in 1998-2000 with the Seattle Times news and travel desks. She did freelance editing and essay travel writing and photography, and traveled extensively in Africa and the Middle East.
In 1996 she was granted a Knight International Press Fellowship, which took her to six countries in the South Pacific to train print and broadcast journalists and conduct a regional survey of media training needs. This led to other training assignments in Indonesia, Republic of Georgia, Armenia, Macedonia, Cambodia, and Laos. She also completed a master’s degree in international studies from the Henry M. Jackson School at the University of Washington.
A two-month assignment in Afghanistan in 2002 led to she and her husband, Tom Willard, moving to Kabul to run the programs of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. In addition to training Afghan reporters and a team of Afghan journalism trainers, Schnellinger and Willard led the formation of Pajhwok Afghan News, the first independent news agency, in 2004.
Based in Dubai, UAE, in 2005-06, she managed ICFJ’s “Citizen Voices” project in Egypt to train journalists on election coverage. She also did consulting and training in the region for other organizations, including work with Iranian bloggers. In 2007, she managed the training-of-trainers program for ICFJ in Timor-Leste.
She and her husband returned to the US and started a photography business in North Georgia, Baraka Photos, in mid-2007. Her specialty is fine art abstracts of natural textures.
Her recent assignments were in Iraq, training Iraqi journalists who cover the parliament, and returning to Afghanistan to assist Pajhwok in the recent elections.
Schnellinger has authored five journalism manuals, on journalism fundamentals, elections reporting, and interviewing skills. These have been translated into 10 languages in all, and have been used worldwide.