You don’t have to open the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to find front page stories by Greg Bluestein. A native Atlantan, Bluestein joined the AJC in 2012 as a political reporter covering the governor’s office and state politics.
Bluestein said he’s proud of the role the AJC plays in the community and echoed one of his mentors in saying that a good newspaper “shows its love for its city by telling it the truth.”
He mentioned the paper’s coverage of the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal, the team of reporters covering state government and the corruption probe into Atlanta City Hall. Bluestein, who also appears on weekly GPB radio programs as well as national TV outlets, is committed to “calling it like I see it.”
Muck Rack, which links journalists with PR agents, describes Bluestein as “husband, father, aspiring mensch. Atlanta native working to tell his city’s story.”
I caught up with Bluestein after he dropped off his young children for the first day of school. Here he shares how he engineered his own childhood vocational dreams into a stellar multifaceted career.
Jaffe: Did you grow up with a pen and paper in your hand? Was journalism in your childhood dreams?
Bluestein: Actually, yes. In the fourth grade in the (Greenfield) Hebrew Academy, AJC sports reporter I.J. Rosenberg came to speak to our class and I fell in love with journalism. I decided not to cover sports because I wanted to remain an avid fan and enjoy the games, but later at Woodland Elementary School I got hooked on reporting. What really sparked my desire, though, was working at The Red & Black student newspaper at the University of Georgia, where I eventually became editor.
Jaffe: What was it like working for the Associated Press?
Bluestein: After college I worked there for seven years after a mentor steered me in that direction. My experience there was phenomenal: I covered the Legislature, law enforcement, and all sorts of breaking news around the nation. I went to West Virginia to cover the mine explosion, to New Orleans to report on the Gulf (of Mexico) oil spill and to Haiti with Jimmy Carter.
I will say now, as a family man, I’m glad to not have as much unplanned hectic travel as I had back then.
Jaffe: How do you view the Georgia gubernatorial election?
Bluestein: I am very excited about this election. Both candidates (Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams) will shake things up. I have known them both for a long time. Often, two opponents will have maybe 60 percent of ideas in common. Not so, here. There’s a stark contrast on just about every major issue: spending caps, immigration, gun control, taxes, abortion, and on and on.
And what happens at the Capitol could affect Georgians in more ways than national politics. The state government controls our regulations, schools, economy, taxes, and beyond.
Jaffe: Describe the typical scope of your work week.
Bluestein: This is a fun gig. I am in constant communication with readers, candidates, politicians, campaign aides, tipsters. It’s a lot of juggling: posting blogs and newsletters, writing for the print edition, doing a podcast, updating Facebook, tweeting and talking about politics on radio and TV outlets.
Jaffe: Why a career in print journalism?
Bluestein: I have a visceral connection to the community and love being able to cover it through a political lens.
Jaffe: How has “fake news” affected you?
Bluestein: I actually hate the term. Now it’s used to describe what politicians don’t like. Social media, despite all its benefits, is transforming us. And adapting to those changes is challenging for our society.
Jaffe: You moderated the interview with famous news anchor Dan Rather at last year’s Book Festival of the Marcus JCC. What was that like?
Bluestein: He’s an iconic journalist and it was so cool to share the stage with him – especially in the heart of the community where I grew up.
Jaffe: Do you see yourself in politics a few years out?
Bluestein: Whoa, no! I love exactly what I am doing right now.
Jaffe: How do you relate to Jewish life in Atlanta?
Bluestein: I value the tightly-knit community enveloping me with family and friends close by. I taught Hebrew school at (Congregation) B’nai Torah and now my kids attend there. Full circle.
Tune in next week to get up close with WSB reporter Michael Seiden, also an Atlanta native.