Rebecca Burns has two primary interests: exploring new forms of nonfiction storytelling, and examining how cities are shaped by their histories. She has merged those interests over the past fifteen years through a career as a city-magazine writer, editor, and digital strategist—along with work as an author and journalism professor.
Burns served as editor-in-chief of Atlanta magazine from 2002-2009 and under her direction the magazine received dozens of local, regional, and national awards for its journalism and design excellence. She spent several years as director of digital strategy for Emmis Publishing, working with editors and publishers on websites, blogs, and mobile applications for the company’s family of city and regional magazines, includingAtlanta, Los Angeles, and Texas Monthly.
In 2011, she co-curated the Atlanta History Center exhibit “Atlanta Magazine, 1961-2011: 50 Years of the Changing City” and produced the accompanying digital media project which won the 2012 national City and Regional Magazine Association award for excellence in multiplatform storytelling.
In fall 2012, she returned to Atlanta magazine to serve as deputy editor and digital strategist, working on special projects such as the award-winning Groundbreakers community service awards. She launched and oversees the magazine’s Daily Agenda blog.
Her own writing and reporting projects focus on Southern history, civil rights, urban planning, and social and economic justice. Burns is the author of three books on Atlanta history. The most recent, Burial for a King (Scribner 2011), chronicles the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and his funeral in Atlanta. She presently is working on a fourth book, The Second Burning of Atlanta, an account of the Great Fire of 1917 to be published by University of Georgia Press.
Burns, who teaches magazine writing at the University of Georgia and Emory University, frequently speaks to school, civic, and corporate groups. Honored for publishing leadership by the Magazine Association of the Southeast and Women in Communications, she is a past board member of the Atlanta Press Club and former board chair of VOX Teen Communications and holds an M.A. in Communication from Georgia State University. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, the designer and illustrator James Burns.