UGA Libraries Logo

Interview with Reg Murphy, February 9, 2010

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:52 - Early life and education

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, may we begin by talking about your experiences while growing up in north Georgia?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy mentions his early life in Gainesville, Georgia, and talks about working at the Macon Telegraph during and after college. He also recalls completing Harvard's Nieman Fellowship, through which he met several members of the Kennedy administration.

Keywords: Harvard University; Hoschton, Georgia; JFK; Mercer University; education; family; school

00:06:54 - Exposing the Griffin camp

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Tell us about your first experiences as a political writer at the State Capitol.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about corruption within Governor Griffin's administration. He also discusses Griffin's rural roads project and Vandiver's "No, not one" stance on segregation.

Keywords: George Whitman; Marvin Griffin; States' Rights Council; University of Georgia; integration

00:17:09 - Abolition of the county unit system

Play segment

Partial Transcript: In addition to the integration at the University of Georgia, I believe it was 1962, Vandiver got hit with two other significant and historical decisions...

Segment Synopsis: Murphy explains how Georgia's former county unit system unfairly favored less densely-populated counties. He describes the state's shift toward moderate politics, attributing growing Republican power to the "one man, one vote" law as well as to district reapportionment.

Keywords: Baker v. Carr; Carl Sanders; Democratic Party; Republican Party; Roy Harris; Talmadge; block vote; redistricting; voting

00:23:35 - The Atlanta Constitution team

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's get back for a minute to The Atlanta Constitution.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy expresses admiration for Ralph McGill, a liberal reporter who boldly published his views despite having a largely conservative audience. Murphy explains how he became the editor of The Atlanta Constitution after Gene Patterson left, and he describes the Saturday column that he authored.

Keywords: Jack Tarver; Ralph McGill; The South and the Southerner; conservative; liberal; politics; reporters

00:34:05 - Progress in Atlanta / JFK and MLK in Georgia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's get back to Georgia politics for a minute if you will.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about Atlanta's role in elections, the city's integration under Mayor William B. Hartsfield, and its economic growth under Mayor Ivan Allen. Murphy comments on the quality of education at Georgia Tech, UGA, and the state's historically black colleges. In addition, Murphy discusses Governor Vandiver's and Judge Griffin Bell's roles in Kennedy's election, Dr. King's arrest, and Georgia's party realignment.

Keywords: Atlanta; Democratic Party; Dr. King; Forward Atlanta; Georgia Institute of Technology; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mayor Allen; Republican Party; University of Georgia; William Hartsfield; business; industry; partisanship; politics; progressive

00:48:00 - Georgia's governorship in disrepute

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Reg, we Georgians have had great success in making fools of ourselves in politics...

Segment Synopsis: Murphy discusses national perception of Georgia politics, which has been affected by various controversies surrounding past governors. Murphy comments on what he considers poor leadership by the Talmadge family and Governor Griffin. He describes voter fraud as well as electoral laws allowing the legislature to choose gubernatorial candidates lacking a majority of the popular vote. Additionally, he recalls Governor Lester Maddox's behavior, which included chasing people with an axe handle and banning The Atlanta Constitution from the Capitol.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Eugene Talmadge; Governor Maddox; Herman Talmadge; Roy Harris; controversy; corruption; elections; fraud; scandal

00:57:47 - Reporting on Georgia politics

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, you've covered many, many significant stories over the Capitol over the years.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy talks about covering the fall of the county unit system and progress on civil rights. He tells the story of the Crawfordville civil rights march, mentioning that he was harassed by segregationists while using a telephone booth to report back to the newspaper. Murphy comments on race relations during that time, and he recalls conducting photojournalism that advanced the cause of integration.

Keywords: Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Urban League; Vernon Jordan; busing; desegregation; integration; photography; reporting

01:05:40 - Jimmy Carter's campaign for governor

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You were around when Jimmy Carter mounted his great campaign, first for governor and then for president.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy describes Jimmy Carter's gubernatorial campaign against Carl Sanders, in which Carter played off of racial prejudices to gain votes. He discusses how features in TIME magazine and The New York Times catapulted Carter to fame throughout the country and contributed to his later presidential campaign success. Murphy explains Nixon's 'Southern strategy', and talks about former Alabama governor Jim Folsom.

Keywords: Carl Sanders; George Wallace; Jim Folsom,; Roy Harris; Southern Strategy; race; segregation

01:19:10 - Murphy's kidnapping

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, as editor of The Constitution, I'm sure you met many unusual characters, including one that was not very pleasant.

Segment Synopsis: Murphy recalls being kidnapped and held for ransom by a man trying to get even with the "leftist press." He also chronicles his involvement with The Journal American, the Times Mirror Company, and National Geographic.

Keywords: FBI; Patty Hearst; abduction; employment; jobs; kidnapped; victim

01:29:12 - Print media v. electronic journalism

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How is technology changing journalism?

Segment Synopsis: Murphy explains the threat that internet and television news poses to print journalism, and he claims that electronic news providers may be less concerned with accuracy than established papers and journalists. In addition, Murphy talks about the challenges involved in modernizing newspaper production.

Keywords: blogs; internet; online news; talk shows