Newsmakers Journal Fires Editor who Fabricated MARTA Attack

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(APN) ATLANTA — Newsmakers Live, an online news entity geared primarily toward Black readers in Atlanta which also has a live interview component, fired its editor, Maynard Eaton, for fabricating an attack against him on MARTA which never occurred.

“The Newsmakers Journal has relieved Maynard Eaton of his duties as Editor-in-Chief and as moderator of Newsmakers Live!  The termination is a direct result of Eaton reporting false information to The Atlanta Journal Constitution regarding an incident on MARTA property,” Eleanorjan Green-Roberts, Board Chairman of Newsmakers Live, said in a statement obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.

Eaton has been the moderator of Newsmakers Live since its inception in 2005.  He previously served as Political Editor for the Atlanta Voice magazine, and as a reporter for WXIA television.

Eaton also has served as press secretary to Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, a Democrat; Deborah Honeycutt, a Republican candidate for Georgia’s 13th Congressional District in 2008; and Jesse Spikes, a candidate for Mayor of Atlanta in 2009.

Eaton would blur the lines between reporter and press secretary in ways that were not transparent to his readers.  Eaton would alternate between sending articles written by him, press releases written by him, and press releases written by others, out to his email distribution list.

In 2009, a high-ranking individual in the Kasim Reed for Mayor campaign told APN that Eaton had approached the Reed campaign offering to send out positive emails about Reed in exchange for monetary compensation.  This individual told APN that they opposed the arrangement and that the campaign refused Eaton’s offer.  Eaton, who had been distributing positive information about Reed to his email list, abruptly stopped doing so.

Eaton told the AJC in an article dated Tuesday, April 26, 2011, that a group of young men attempted to steal his laptop and that they rushed him from behind, which caused him to fall down a MARTA escalator at Peachtree Center station.

The Peachtree Center escalator is notoriously long, so it is miraculous indeed that Eaton survived with only minor injuries.

The AJC has since edited the online version of the article to remove all references to Eaton’s allegation, but some of the text remained in GoogleNews’s cache: “Veteran Atlanta journalist Maynard Eaton said he was hospitalized Monday evening after tumbling down an escalator following an attempted robbery at Peachtree Center.  Eaton said he could hear a group of young men approaching him from behind as he…”

“An earlier version of this story contained the description of an alleged attack upon a MARTA passenger that has since been retracted by the passenger,” a note by the AJC now states.

Eaton made no mention of being hospitalized on his personal Facebook page, despite posting other items.

On Friday, April 29, the AJC reported that a man identifying himself as Eaton left a voicemail with the newspaper, saying, “I made some comments about MARTA… that I’d like to retract.  I simply fell and hurt my own self.”

Eaton had originally told the AJC that he did not speak with MARTA police after the alleged attack.

However, the AJC obtained an incident report from MARTA in which he told an officer he “missed a step” on the escalator, causing him to fall, and which also stated that Eaton appeared to be intoxicated.

Newsmakers Live, Inc., was incorporated in 2007 as a Georgia corporation.  Eleanorjan Roberts-Welcome is listed as CEO, CFO, and Secretary [it is unclear whether her last name was since changed to Green-Roberts, but they are presumably the same person].

“It is upsetting that a journalist would falsely report information and knowingly jeopardize MARTA’s image, the image of young African American men, and potentially his employer.  In light of this incident and past incidents that have brought Mr. Eaton’s integrity into question, Newsmakers has chosen to severe [sic] our professional relationship with him,” Green-Roberts said.

“It has become clear that Mr. Eaton has some personal issues that must be addressed, and while we wish the best for him and hope he seeks help, we cannot continue to allow his abhorrent behavior to adversely effect [sic] the Newsmakers properties,” she said.

According to the Newsmakers Journal website, there were two only staff persons: Eaton, who served as Editor-in-Chief, and Jim Welcome, who serves as Publisher.

As previously reported by APN, Mr. Welcome once made homophobic remarks directed at the present writer in a 2009 email criticizing APN for reporting on conflicts of interest involving the Atlanta Voice magazine.  Welcome accused APN of attacking Black heritage in Atlanta.

“Your contempt, though noted, is insulting.  You don’t get to have contempt for Black people’s heritage and efforts in a circumstance you could never begin to understand as a White Gay male,” Welcome wrote [as if being White is bad enough, but White and gay?].

It is unclear who will moderate Newsmakers Live or provide content for Newsmakers Journal, seeing as how Eaton had been the face and voice of both venues.

However, according to the company’s statement, as of now the company is still planning on holding a Newsmakers Live event on May 04, 2011, with Rev. Joseph E. Lowery.

Eaton is also the CEO of Eaton Media Group, which was incorporated in 2008 but is not currently in compliance with the Secretary of State’s Corporations Division.

(END / 2011)

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