Uncommon Journalism founder James Swift is an Atlanta-based writer and reporter whose work has been published by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Youth Today the Center for Public Integrity, the Marietta Daily Journal, AOL, Thought Catalog, The Roswell  and Alpharetta Neighbor, The North Fulton Business Journal and the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

His multimedia project “Rural America: After the Recession” received acclaim from both the Community Action Partnership and the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families, and in 2013, he wrote the foreword for Jan Banning’s “Down and Out in the South.” At the 2013 Atlanta Press Club Awards of Excellence, he was the recipient of the Rising Star Award, an honor for "outstanding talent from any medium, under 30 years of age."


Other professional work samples produced by Uncommon Journalism founder James Swift

Long Form Features

Rural America: After the Recession -- a multimedia package produced for Youth Today, focusing on the impact of the Great Recession on families living in the northwest Georgia area. Praised by organizations such as the Community Action Partnership, the project includes stirring photography from acclaimed Dutch photographer Jan Banning. 

The Ghosts of the Past -- a multimedia presentation examining the "White House Boys," a collection of men who, in their youth, all claim to have received horrendous beatings the Florida School for Boys in Marianna. 

A Mother's Mission -- a feature story profiling Grace Bauer, a Louisiana mother who became one of the nation's foremost advocates for juvenile justice reform after her son was locked up in one of America's most notorious youth prisons. 

Remembering Tracy's Story -- a profile of Tracy McClard, a Missouri juvenile justice reform advocate who took action after her son committed suicide while in custody. 

Mrs. Carolyn's Cottage -- a feature story about a unique community-based alternative program in the suburbs of Nashville, where in lieu of detention, young people are taught life skills and other coping behaviors.

Investigative Reporting

Lack of Expertise, Inadequate Funding -- a comprehensive feature examining the state of mental health care access in the United States juvenile justice system, in particular, areas where providers are struggling to provide services. 

Miller v. Alabama: One Year Later -- a feature examining the national impact of the 2012 Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which barred states from giving juvenile offenders mandatory life without parole sentences. 

As Prisons Prepare for PREA -- an examination of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, specifically the legislation's impact on juvenile offenders housed within adult prison systems. 

In Rural Georgia, One County Emerges as a Leader -- a look at the innovative practices employed by a rural Georgia juvenile court, and how other counties within the state may be able to benefit from similar policies. 

What Drives a Boy to Kill? -- an analysis of young male violence in the United States, featuring commentary from two leading analysts on the best approaches to curbing mass shooting incidents.


NCCD Receives Grant to Explore Juvenile Justice Funding Model -- a story about two organizations that received a grant to conduct Pay-for-Success feasibility studies in California. 

National Coalition Asks Americans to to "Stand Up" to JLWOP -- a story about the unveiling of a new Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth promotion.

SPLC Lawsuit Alleges Controversial Alabama School Choice Law is Unconstitutional -- a story taking a look at a Southern Poverty Law Center suit, which claims that a school voucher program discriminates against children from lower-income homes. 

New Study to Focus on Impact of Family Visits -- a story about a partnership between the Vera Institute and the Indiana Department of Youth Services, to examine the effects of increased family visitation on the behaviors and outcomes of detained juvenile offenders. 

Poverty Among Young People Rising -- a story addressing findings from a recently released Rural School and Community Trust report, with representatives of the organization detailing the distressing data.

Public Relations

Battle Tested -- a career overview of Dr. Julie Battle, chair of Brenau University's Psychology and Counseling Department, who has fought for child victims of brutal crimes on the witness stand for nearly two decades.

Time Machine For Student Experience-- a look at an innovative ‘Reacting to the Post’ instructional method, which has students not just studying history, but role-playing it in the classroom.

From Lake Lanier to the Yangtze River -- two Brenau University professors recount their experiences working alongside students at Anhui Normal University in China.

The Great Eight -- a multimedia feature profiling the very talented - and very diverse - recipients of the coveted Brenau Scholars scholarship in fall 2015.

Nursing the Future -- an up-close look at how innovative patient simulator software is changing Brenau University's health sciences programming - and in the process, better preparing students for medical careers.


Praise for the works of Uncommon Journalism founder James Swift

"In autumn 2012, I worked with James Swift on 'Rural America: After the Recession,' for Youth Today. I considered it brilliantly written – so much so, in fact, that I invited James to write an introduction for my photo book 'Down and Out in the South.' This resulted in a wonderful piece, reminiscent of Emile Zola’s 'J’accuse.' I think he does a great job in making big structures and developments in society accessible to a broad audience by choosing a personal perspective – without his work becoming private. His excellent style contributes to that as well.

Working with James was, for me both as a photographer and as the maker of the photo book who gave him an assignment, a great pleasure: he does his work on time, is precise and flexible when confronted with commentary. He was extremely helpful in paving my way and convincing the people who were relevant for' Rural America: After the Recession' to accept being photographed.”

"James is a hard-working, efficient and detail-oriented journalist. He was one of my main freelancers when I served as editor of Kennesaw Patch, and his work greatly contributed to the success of the site as a hub of local news and information. He's especially adept at covering local government, university news and hot button issues in the community. He goes above and beyond in his research and reporting and excels in a deadline-intensive environment.”

"For any reporter, no matter the level of experience, inserting one’s self into a story requires balancing personal experience with journalistically sound principles that objective distance demands. Swift accomplished that goal as is evident in his digital package filled with researched facts, interviews and observations in his main stories and sidebars.” 

"My experience with him left me with the impression that he heavily researches his stories and comes prepared to an interview with sophisticated questions, an open mind, and a desire to actually learn from his subjects (rather than to impose an agenda on an interview). He has the confidence in his creative instrument to endeavor to get his quotes accurate in both substance and context. Secure in the originality of his writing, he does not take shortcuts to creating stories. He fleshes topics out with integrity and depth.

As a person who has had a variety of interactions with journalists spanning fifteen years, I would distinguish James as exceptional among his peers, including those who write at The New York Times and other highly competitive hubs of journalists. His integrity, intellect, and objectivity are qualities of a seasoned elder who sets an example for junior colleagues at the finest news outlets, and his work distills complex ideas accurately and is well articulated. He is a great credit to his profession."

-- Dr. Michael Welner, chairman of The Forensic Panel and a nationally-recognized forensic psychiatrist who has made appearances on ABC, CNN and CBS newscasts 

"Many journalists have been slow to realize the changes technology has brought to journalistic storytelling. Not James. He is an excellent reporter and writer, but is one who is willing to push beyond those core skills and embrace digital storytelling. He uses the power of narrative to anchor his work, but is comfortable complementing the stories with multimedia elements that enrich and further one's understanding of the material."

"I saw Mr. Swift's writing ability before he became a professional writer, as he was a student in my college history class a few years ago. Already then I noticed how crisp and compelling his prose was. He digs beneath the surface to seek the truth of an issue. More importantly, he asks questions that haven't even been raised yet -- but should be. In short, journalism at its very best. We could use more writers like him."

"Mr. Swift worked closely with me regarding issues that pertained to juvenile justice and helped bring to light matters that others were not addressing."

-- Benjamin A. Bell, Child Protective Services Placement Specialist, Georgia Department of Human Services

"James Swift is a superb reporter. He grasps the issues, brings stories to life, and is accurate and comprehensive in his reporting."

-- Liz Ryan, Founder of the Campaign for Youth Justice

"James Swift is right on target: professional, courteous, and accurate. What more can one ask for?"

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