Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shipp Launches New Blog

Distinguished print journalist Bill Shipp, dean of Georgia political reporting, has launched a new blog. The website will contain the same news and commentary for which he is already well known and long respected. I just wanted to welcome him to the blog world. Bill Shipp does not need my endorsement or approval. Nonetheless, the blogosphere is elevated by his experience, wisdom and indeed his very presence. Bill Shipp's Georgia, a weekly newsletter, became the country's first serious political journal on the internet in the 1990’s, making this “old-school newspaperman a pioneer blogger,” he says. Shipp's columns appear in more than sixty newspapers, and he is a familiar member of The Georgia Gang weekly Atlanta television discussion of current events.

I worked with Bill Shipp many, many years ago at the old Forsyth Street Journal-Constitution, my first regular full-time job, journalistic or otherwise. In those days The Atlanta Journal, where I worked, was published six afternoons each week, and The Atlanta Constitution, where Shipp worked, the same number of mornings, with a combined Sunday edition. Each daily had its own separate newsroom and staff. Bill Shipp was already an ace political reporter. I was not even a face card.

Reporting on Georgia politics for more than fifty years, much of what he has covered has now officially entered the status of history, those events ignorance of which condemns us to pointlessly repeat, making the same old mistakes and reinventing wheels. Shipp says, “Thousands of Georgians regularly read my column twice weekly in their local paper and online, but I've set up this site to offer a more in-depth and faster-responding venue for the quick-paced action that is Georgia politics. Bill Shipp Online will be a forum for my thoughts and those of some of the finest writers on Georgia politics. My columns will be available soon after they are published in the newspapers around the state, but my notes on politics as well as breaking news flashes will be available exclusively here.”

A Marietta native, Shipp attended Emory University and the University of Georgia., where he became the managing editor of the student newspaper, the Red and Black. During this time, a young man named Horace T. Ward attempted to end racial segregation at the University of Georgia. Then-Governor Herman Talmadge and the Board of Regents prevented Mr. Ward from enrolling. Shipp’s editorials and columns in the student newspaper protested the actions of the governor and board of regents. This was the era of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that held separate was inherently unequal. Horrace T. Ward never attended the University of Georgia but years later was appointed to a federal judgeship by Georgia native-son President Jimmy Carter.

For over 30 years, Shipp was a writer and editor for The Atlanta Constitution, covering the civil rights movement, the early days of the space program, and numerous political campaigns, and breaking stories. Shipp has collected his columns, personal essays, and political profiles in the book The Ape-Slayer and Other Snapshots, the title entry describing a gung-ho police officer and a rampaging chimpanzee in midtown Atlanta. Shipp has also published Murder at Broad River Bridge, an account of Lemuel Penn, an African-American Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army reserves, on his way home to Washington, D.C., shot to death by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964 near the Oglethorpe-Madison county line.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

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