My second job as a professional journalist was serving for a few months as News Editor for the Tifton Daily Gazette in Tifton, Ga.
I recently wrote a column about Tyron Spearman being inducted into the Peanut Hall of Fame and that rekindled some long forgotten memories of my days at ‘The Gazette’.
I got the job because I worked on a daily newspaper that had recently converted from cold type to hot type, a process of printing newspapers that is as much a dinosaur now as cold type was then. I thought I had gotten the job because of my college degree and my masterful, though brief stint, as Sports Editor of a smaller daily newspaper in Alabama. Wrong!
The editorial guru and managing editor of the Gazette back in the early-1970s was Bob Morrell, a wiry little guy, who could absolutely make a pack of Camels and a cup of black coffee nervous. He is now deceased, but is also in the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame.
Danny Carter was a reporter for the Gazette. Now 40 years later he is the editorial glue that holds the Albany, Ga., Herald together. My newest colleague, Brad Haire, is a graduate of Georgia’s Augusta State University journalism program. He spent his early years cutting his teeth as a journalist at the Albany Herald, under the tutelage of Danny Carter.
I haven’t asked, but I’d bet Brad will tell anyone who asks that he learned more about journalism from the Albany Herald in a week than in four years earning a degree in journalism.
Gary Shelton was the Sports Editor for the Gazette. His family life growing up in Tifton, Ga., defined dysfunctional. He basically raised himself.
Now, 40 years later, Gary has a house full of happy kids and a roomful of writing awards, going back to the Columbus, Ga., Ledger-Enquirer and on to the Miami Herald and now the Tampa Tribune, with a few stops in between.
Then there was Tyron, the seemingly ever-present public relations presence of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He wasn’t in our office every day, but it sometimes seemed that way. He was as dedicated to promoting ABAC then as he is now about promoting peanuts.
Being inducted into the American Peanut Council’s Hall of Fame was a long time overdue recognition of Tyron’s contribution to the industry. Truly, he is deserving of any award the peanut industry can find to give him.
I’ve often said, “Scratch the surface of any successful person in the media business, no matter at what level, and you’re likely to find some experience somewhere along the way at a daily or weekly newspaper. Ask any of us with this experience, “What is the best job you’ve ever had,” and almost without fail the answer will be working for a newspaper.
I hope newspapers don’t go the way of cold type and hot type processes that once produced them. If so, all of us who at one time or another in our career helped bring a newspaper to life, can look back with no regrets and say, “We’ve come a long way, baby.”