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Interview with Dick Pettys, February 1, 2010

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:43 - Start in journalism / Early life

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Partial Transcript: Dick, when you were growing up in Atlanta, did you dream of being a political reporter?

Segment Synopsis: Pettys discusses his early journalistic education and career. He also talks about growing up in the Morning Side Community in Atlanta, Georgia.

Keywords: Associated Press; Buford Advertiser; John Drewry; Lawrenceville News-Herald; News of Gwinnett; Norman Underwood; The Red & Black; UGA; University of Georgia

00:04:52 - Political correspondent

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Partial Transcript: So, you came to the State Capitol in 1970.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys discusses his beginnings in political correspondence for the Associated Press. He talks about how he broke into the industry, explaining the importance of relationship-building.

Keywords: AP; Governor Lester Maddox; Speaker George L. Smith; Watergate Scandal; Zell B. Miller; journalistic sources; secretaries; the journalistic process

00:13:09 - Prominent news stories / Lester Maddox

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Partial Transcript: In addition to your being a political reporter, you also had to be an investigative reporter.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys talks about his experiences as an investigative reporter. He shares about the time he uncovered a slush fund in the governor's budget. He also discusses the story he wrote about Tom Murphy's death in 2007. Finally, he talks about his relationship with Lester Maddox.

Keywords: Atlanta Constitution; Atlanta Journal; DuBose Porter; Georgia General Assembly; Georgia House of Representatives; Governor Jimmy Carter; Governor Zell B. Miller; Hal Gulliver; Speaker Tom Murphy; lieutenant governor; state budget; urban caucus

00:22:14 - Jimmy Carter

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about Jimmy Carter and his administration.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys discusses Jimmy Carter as a governor and a president, focusing on Carter's relationship with the press and his presidential campaign.

Keywords: 1972 Democratic National Convention; AP; Associated Press; Jody Powell; McGovern rules; Scoop Jackson; presidential election

00:31:19 - George Busbee / Joe Frank Harris

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about Carter's successor, George Busbee.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys talks about the governorship, character, and press relations of George Busbee and Joe Frank Harris. He also discusses Harris's influence on the legal case surrounding Georgia Labor Commission Sam Caldwell, who was convicted of fraud of state funds.

Keywords: Basic Education Act; Georgia education; House Majority Leader; Speaker Tom Murphy; driver training; federal fraud; gubernatorial election; impact fees; state patrol scandal; ticket fixings

00:38:32 - 1990 election of Zell Miller / Wire service reporting

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Partial Transcript: Now, Dick, let's go to 1990. A vacant governor's chair. A lot of people wanted to sit in it.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys shares about the 1990 election of Zell Miller as governor. He also talks about the dangers and benefits of wire service reporting.

Keywords: AP; Associated Press; HOPE Scholarship; Lester Maddox; gubernatorial debates; journalistic bias

00:45:22 - Changes in journalism

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Partial Transcript: Well, I was going to ask you the question of what impact the internet has had on newspaper political coverage with all the political blogs.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys discusses the evolution of journalism due to changes in technology and reporting, focusing on the internet and twenty-four hour news stations.

Keywords: Speaker Tom Murphy; Zell Miller; internet journalism; journalistic ethics; newspaper decline

00:50:05 - Reporting on Miller's health / Changes in the Georgia House of Representatives

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Partial Transcript: One other thing before we get into Zell Miller running for governor, which was in 1990.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys tells a story about attempting to report on Miller's prostate health. He also analyzes the changes that the Georgia House has undergone.

Keywords: Bill Shipp; Georgia State Legislature; Governor Zell Miller; lobbying; lobbyists; low-flush toilets

00:58:56 - 1994 Reelection of Zell Miller

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Partial Transcript: Let's take a minute to talk about the governors again.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys talks about the 1994 reelection of Governor Miller against the Republican candidate, Guy Millner. He evaluates Millner as a candidate, focusing on Millner's finances.

Keywords: Erk Russell; Georgia Lottery System; HOPE Scholarship; campaign journalism; casinos; political journalism; self-funded campaign

01:05:06 - Roy Barnes / Later life

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Partial Transcript: Slowly but surely, the Republican Party has taken control of Georgia politics.

Segment Synopsis: Pettys analyzes the power shift in Georgia from Democrats to Republicans, focusing on Governor Roy Barnes and his 2002 reelection campaign against Sonny Perdue. He also discusses Barnes's chances for reelection in 2010. Finally, Pettys briefly discusses his life post-retirement.

Keywords: Confederate flag; Georgia General Assembly; Georgia National Party; Georgia flag change; Georgia party shift; Pierre Howard; campaign fundraising; education reform