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Interview with Millard Grimes, January 7, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:53 - Childhood / Early newspaper career

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Partial Transcript: You were born in Newnan.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about growing up in LaGrange, Georgia with his mother, father, and his grandmother. He recalls his love for reading and writing when he was a child, and his first encounter with journalism at age 16 when he started working as a proof-reader and then moved up to a copy boy.

Keywords: LaGrange, Ga; books; comics; copy boy; legend-enquirer; news room; newspaper; proof-reader; writing

00:06:23 - The Red & Black / The University of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So you came to the University of Georgia to study journalism.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about what the University of Georgia was like when he attended in the late 1940's. He also talks about how working for The Red & Black was very useful in order to learn every single process of the newspaper industry.

Keywords: Jim Minter; Pandora; Red & Black; newspaper

00:12:09 - Pulitzer Prize / Phenix City, Alabama

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk about in 1955 when your newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for documenting evidence that there was corruption in Phenix City, which is across the river.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about working for the Columbus Ledger when they won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 for uncovering corruption in Phenix City, Alabama. He admits that they had overplayed the story, and gives the details on the murder of Albert Patterson and the consequences that happened as a result.

Keywords: Albert Patterson; Bob Brown; Columbus Ledger; Fort Benning; Phenix City, Al; Pulitzer Prize; Russell County; gambling center; martial law

00:19:26 - Weekly-newspaper / Career after Columbus Ledger

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Partial Transcript: But the sequel to that is, on the day we won the Pulitzer Prize, it was announced, I had already resigned and had decided to go over to Phenix City and start a weekly newspaper.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about starting a weekly newspaper in Phenix City. He talks about the key differences between working for a daily newspaper versus a weekly newspaper. Grimes also talks about working for a few other newspapers after the Columbus Ledger.

Keywords: Phenix City; entrepreneur; weekly paper

00:26:13 - Golden Age of Newspapers

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Partial Transcript: In your book, The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and its Newspapers since World War II, you described the years between 1950 and the '80s as the “Golden Age of Newspapers.”

Segment Synopsis: Grimes explains his reasoning for claiming that the time between 1950 to 1980 was the Golden Age of Newspapers. Printing images was easier, the value of papers went up, reporters and editors were college-educated, and there was little competition for advertising.

Keywords: advertising; education; golden age; image printing; newspapers

00:33:08 - Newspaper men / Framework of a good daily newspaper

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about some of the real newspaper men during that era.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about some of the famous newspaper men he knew from the University of Georgia, such as: Ray Jenkins, Grover Hall, Jr., Jim Bellows, and many more. Grimes gives his opinion on what makes a good daily newspaper, citing a need to focus on the paper's key demographic.

Keywords: Bob Fowler; Grover Hall, Jr; Opelika; Ray Jenkins; daily newspaper; editorials; locak newspaper; sports

00:43:02 - Georgia's growth

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Partial Transcript: Now, with your permission, I’d like to get your thoughts on some of Georgia’s most well-known political writers and editorialists.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes describes the development of Atlanta into the major city it is today. He credits Governor Carl Sanders (1963-1967) for the growth of Atlanta as well as the development of Georgia's professional sports.

Keywords: Atlanta Braves; Atlanta Falcons; Atlanta Hawks; Carl Sanders; Ernest Vandiver; Governor Sanders; Olympics; Ralph McGill; commercial capital; integration; major league sports; stadium

00:49:34 - 1966 Gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember that race in 1966 when Governor Arnall ran against a group of people which included Lester Maddox?

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about the 1966 gubernatorial race between Lester Maddox and Ellis Arnall. He later talks about the county-unit system, and how the state government was effected after its phasing out.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Ellis Arnall; Enquirer; Herman Talmadge; James Grey; Lester Maddox; Marvin Griffin; Pine Mountain; county-unit system; government

00:54:47 - Investigative reporting / Civil Rights

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Partial Transcript: Do you think there’s more or less interest in today’s newspapers in investigative reporting?

Segment Synopsis: Grimes gives his opinion on the prominence of investigative reporting. Grimes also talks about how the Civil Rights Movement was treated by the newspapers in his area, most of which ignored the movement and did not report on it.

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; McCain; Obama; coverage; election; investigative reporting; meriwether county; readership; segregation

01:02:45 - Party politics in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk a minute about party politics in Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about how the state of Georgia has shifted from being majority Democrat to majority Republican. Grimes and Short talk about changes in the state and the current Democratic Party.

Keywords: democratic party; democrats; party; party lines; party politics; regional; republican party; republicans; two party system

01:06:54 - Newspapers today

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to newspapering, what effect has television had on the newspapers?

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about the state of the newspaper industry, expressing concern that young people today do not read newspapers.

Keywords: advertising; daily; future; market; newspaper industry; niche; weekly; young people

01:14:42 - Georgia Trend magazine

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned magazines, which brings up the Georgia Trend.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about how he had purchased the Georgia Trend during a recession in the 1990s. He talks about the operations of the magazine and how it was the highlight of his career.

Keywords: Bill Shipp: Ernest Vandiver; Bo Callaway; CEOs; Carl Sanders; Georgia Journal; Georgia Trend; Government; Jim Minter; Neil Young; Tom Cousins; advertisements; magazines; tourism

01:20:50 - Lewis Grizzard / Rheta Grimsley Johnson / Advice

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Partial Transcript: Well, you’ve certainly had a brilliant career.

Segment Synopsis: Grimes talks about Lewis Grizzard, who was Glenn Vaughn's intern. Vaughn worked on the Athens Banner-Herald when it was changed into a daily newspaper. Grimes also talks a little bit about reporter and columnis, Rheta Grimsley Johnson. Grimes concludes the interview by giving some advice to aspiring journalists.

Keywords: Athens Banner-Herald; Glenn Vaughn; Lewis Grizzard; Rheta Grimsley Johnson; electronic media