As is the case with most sites in what new media critic Jodi Dean calls the “blogipelago,” this blog was created to be accessed starting with the earliest post (December 3, 2013). This rule of blog literacy is especially true here, since the posts roughly present a chronological discussion — so scroll down, read, navigate, and feel free to become a part of the blog’s ‘public’ by commenting on its content. – Paul Farr
Albany Herald http://www.albanyherald.com/
Americus Times-Recorder http://www.americustimesrecorder.com/
Athens Banner-Herald http://onlineathens.com/
Augusta Chronicle http://chronicle.augusta.com/
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/
Gainesville Times http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/
Macon Telegraph http://www.macon.com/
Marietta Daily Journal http://www.mdjonline.com/
Savannah Morning News http://savannahnow.com/
Above are a geographic sampling of e-editions of newspapers from 2nd and 3rd tier cities in Georgia (based on population), as well as my ‘hometown’ paper in Americus, Georgia. Full access to content on the majority of these sites is now limited by paid subscription. Five of the sites use a subscription service called Press+. The website designs for the Columbus and Macon newspapers are very similar. The Americus print newspaper is published twice a week, as more content is moving to the e-edition. Most of the websites advertise editions for PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.
The access to and content of e-editions appears to be an evolving business model, as the economic realities of traditional print journalism and customers’ reading habits continue to shift the news from print to screen. The influence that this move has on the ‘local’ public sphere is a question that, as of the date of this post, is itself evolving. The ‘living’ hyperlinks will above provide a window into this evolution.
The Atlanta Constitution and The Atlanta Journal ceased separate daily publications in 2001, and became The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The editorial boards also merged, and the editorial page contained both conservative and liberal opinions of local, state, and national issues.
The current print edition of the AJC has very limited state news coverage outside of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, and has even reduced its news coverage of issues and events in and around Atlanta. Daily statewide delivery has ceased; however, some retail stores outside of the Atlanta area continue to sell the Sunday edition.
The AJC offers two websites for digital content (see the links above): ajc.com (which offers limited free content), and the recently added myajc.com (which offers expanded subscription content via a Digital Access Pass). Limited content can also be accessed via a free I-Phone and Android App.
This website also contains a substantial archive of newspapers from 1836-1922, maintained by the Library of Congress, with funding provided by The National Endowment for the Humanities. This website contains only four newspapers with partial geographic coverage in Georgia; however, three of these were published in Tennessee (Chattanooga, Winchester, and Memphis). The fourth (The Daily Chattanooga Rebel) was published in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Marietta, Georgia; and Griffin, Georgia, respectively, during the Civil War in an attempt to allude Union troops attempting to destroy the newspaper’s press and arrest its owners. See, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/?state=Georgiaðnicity=&language=
This website is a good source of newspapers from the South Georgia (USA) region, containing issues from 1845-1922 (within the public domain). The archive includes issues of the Americus Times-Recorder (Americus, GA) and the Sumter Republican (Americus, GA), as well as newspapers from these other South Georgia cities: Albany, Bainbridge, Brunswick, Cuthbert, Thomasville, Tifton, Valdosta, and Waycross. Browsing these issues gives a sense of the public sphere created by the traditional local newspaper.
The Atlanta Constitution (morning) and The Atlanta Journal (afternoon) were for many years the unofficial statewide newspapers of record in Georgia. Gavel-to-gavel coverage of the state legislature; field bureaus around the state in the larger cities; columnists such as Ralph McGill, Celestine Sibley, and Lewis Grizzard; and a well-loved Sunday magazine (Atlanta Weekly) knit the state together into a public which discussed issues of statewide importance. The slogan on The Atlanta Journal‘s masthead for many years (“Covers Dixie Like the Dew”) perhaps reveals the newspaper’s “mission statement” to be a source of news and comment for Atlanta, the State of Georgia, and the Southern region. (For further comment on The Atlanta Journal‘s mission, see http://likethedew.com/about/.
Henry W. Grady (1850-1889) was the editor and part owner of The Atlanta Constitution from 1880 until his death at age 39. Grady built the newspaper into arguably the most influential in Georgia. Using the paper’s editorial page and his own skills as an orator, Grady promoted the idea of a “New South,” putting behind its pre-Civil War agrarian-based economy and emerging from Reconstruction with an economy based in industry and manufacturing. Grady spoke to audiences in the Northeast as well, in an attempt to persuade Northern industrialists to invest in manufacturing in Georgia and the region. The University of Georgia Grady School of Journalism bears his name.
The editorial board of each newspaper made the morning Constitution and the afternoon Journal distinct from each other. The editorial voice of The Atlanta Constitution was traditionally “liberal” for a Southern newspaper, personified by its anti-segregationist editor and columnist Ralph McGill, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1959 mainly for his editorial against the bombing of the Atlanta Jewish Temple. Ralph McGill Boulevard in downtown Atlanta bears his name. Eugene Patterson, born in the south Georgia city of Valdosta, became editor of the Constitution in the 1960’s, and his combination of rural Georgia perspective and progressive editorials gave the Constitution a unique voice among major Southern newspapers. Segregationist Georgia Governor Lester Maddox famously nicknamed The Atlanta Constitution “The Atlanta Fish-Wrapper” for its progressive views. The editorial voice of The Atlanta Journal was traditionally “center-right” for a Southern newspaper, creating an on-going back-and-forth debate between the two editorial boards.
Both newspapers were delivered daily to homes and businesses around Georgia, and each published more than one edition every day.
The historic move away from traditional print journalism toward a news environment existing solely within the digital is happening right before our eyes. The ongoing demise of the printed news daily in the United States has been chronicled by the news media itself over the past several years. Declining readership has lead to ever-decreasing advertising revenue (including retail ads, sales inserts, and classified ads), based largely on the movement of news and customers to the Internet. National and international news outlets are strongly represented in on-line news sites; however, state and local news content is not adequately represented in that forum, and local news readership has not completely shifted to the Internet, leaving a large informational and participatory gap for ‘local’ issues to be reported, editorialized, commented upon, and debated.
This blog will attempt to provide a snapshot of the history of the local newspaper, as well as attempt to chronicle the recent developments in this move from traditional print journalism to digital journalism, with a specific emphasis on local and state media sources within Georgia (USA). This blog, by no means, purports itself to be an exhaustive source for this history, but hopes to be a ‘discussion starter’ of this important issue.