Looking back at Jim Hurts’ life in journalism

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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By Loran Smith
Administrative Assistant, UGA football club

When you take respite at a comfortable venue where the host is hospitable and qualifies as a fluent raconteur, there is a lift that makes your day which makes you eager for the next day but mindful that a long weekend is not long enough to spend with especial friends.

Jim Minter, a native of Inman, Georgia, studied journalism at the University of Georgia and then took time to fulfill his military obligation.

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Then he embarked on a career in journalism. Deep into retirement, he still reads newspapers, never wanting to let go of that morning time when he arises from his nightly rest, fixes a cup of coffee and then reads the Atlanta Journal-Constitution whose pages he once edited.

Jim hurts emotionally when he thinks about the possibility that we will someday go through our daily lives without newspapers. For sure the morning paper.

There seems to be a trend toward getting our news without newsprint. 

Forecasts are that we will all have to rely totally on the computer at some point, maybe sooner than later. There could hardly be a greater aficionado of books that this seasoned writer, who began his career in sports, segued into managing editor of the Atlanta Constitution and then editor of the AJC. If he doesn’t read at least three books in a week, it is a bad week for him.

Weekly newspapers are not going to be able to make it which prompts Jim to ask: Who is going to investigate the local sheriffs where graft and corruption often hold sway.

It will be difficult for so many in our communities to read the legal adds via the Internet but that trend is becoming entrenched.  Funny pages? Who could possibly enjoy reading the comic section on the computer.  Spending time with Minter, especially at social hour late in the day, which calls for an Irish whiskey, like Bushmills, causes him to hark back to the newspapers’ heyday of the fifties. The Atlanta Journal truly “covered Dixie like the Dew,” when Jim began his career as a sportswriter.

Jim not only was a fine sportswriter, he was a classic editor. He could write and nothing got past his sage eye when he edited a reporter’s copy.

Jim knew how to cut an uppity politician down to size, but he preferred to write about quail hunting, a birddog on a point or a dog that could point fish. Yeah, he discovered that a high school coach, Hokey Jackson, had a dog that could smell bream when they were given to bedding on a full moon in summer.

Jim always had a bent for humor. Then there was the time when a wrestling association had a routine which called for a representative to bring the Friday Night wrestling lineup in early on Friday morning to the AJC to be published that afternoon. On Saturday the same guy brought the Friday night results for the Sunday paper.

You can imagine the consternation that took place when Jim opened up the envelope one Friday morning for the evening schedule; lo and behold he realized that the wrestling rep had brought, not the Friday schedule, but the Saturday results.

The courier realized what had happened shortly thereafter and soon bolted into the newsroom in a panic.

Much of a recent weekend was spent reminiscing about Jim’s days in the AJC newsroom and the characters with whom he dealt both internally and externally.

We both were lifelong admirers of the late Dan Magill who will always reign as our most unforgettable character.

Magill always believed that there was an underlying vein of contempt for the University of Georgia which Minter has confirmed. Magill had a fine way of being civil with the sportswriters who drove over to cover Bulldog practices and games, but was never reluctant to spew venom toward those with any administrative responsibilities who determined what was printed in the sports section.

Early one morning, Magill was on the warpath at something which he felt was unforgiveable.  It was the fall of 1955 and Magill was indignant.

He phoned Minter and delivered this classic quote: “If Captain Bobby Garrard died of a heart attack today, a headline would appear in the Atlanta papers tomorrow morning, ‘Bobby Garrard quits the Georgia team.”