Millard Grimes – Encyclopedia of New Georgia
Writer, editor and publisher Millard Grimes epitomized the evolution of the modern Georgian newspaper industry. In a career that spanned seven decades, Grimes held positions at venerable newspapers in Georgia and Alabama, founded dozens of dailies and weeklies, and held leadership positions in top-tier professional organizations. plan.
Born in Newnan on March 8, 1930, Grimes grew up in LaGrange and Columbus. He cut his teeth in the business as a teenage copier at the Book of Columbus (later Columbus Ledger-Investigator), handling the stories as they passed through the newsroom via a pneumatic tube for a weekly salary of $18.75. Later, he became a proofreader and sports correspondent while still in high school. At the University of Georgia (UGA), Grimes was editor of the student newspaper, the Red and black. He graduated from UGA in 1951. He and his wife, Charlotte, had three children.
Grimes worked at register during the burgeoning of the “golden age of newspapers”, as he describes it in The Last Linotype: The History of Georgia and Its Newspapers Since World War II (1985). This golden age, which began in 1950, was a particularly prosperous time in the history of the register. In 1955, the newspaper’s documentation of widespread racketeering and government corruption in nearby Phenix, Alabama won a Pulitzer Prize for public service. Grimes, then deputy editor, left Columbus on the same day in 1955 the Pulitzers were announced to continue his journalistic odyssey, which eventually took him from copyist to publishing general manager of more than twenty daily and weekly newspapers. in Georgia and Alabama. (Along the way, he served as editor of numerous newspapers, including the Applicantand headed the Georgia Press Association in 1985-86.) He witnessed the beginnings of several notable careers, including the hiring in the 1960s of a young Lewis Grizzard at the Athens Daily News. Grimes also hired Rheta Grimsley Johnson at News Opelika-Auburn in the 1970s, although he initially protested, according to Johnson, that he did not have “enough trash cans to hire another person”.
Grimes entered the world of magazine publishing by buying the quarterly Georgia Diary and Georgia Trenda statewide business magazine. Georgia Trend was first released in September 1985 on a $4 million budget from its owner, the Times Publishing Company in St. Petersburg, Florida, and its first publisher was Pulitzer Prize-winning Gene Patterson. Patterson was best known as Atlanta Constitution editor who succeeded Ralph McGill and continued McGill’s efforts to reason with a city in the throes of a civil rights crisis.
Despite numerous awards, Georgia Trend ran into financial difficulties, and Times Publishing eventually put the publication up for sale. Grimes took a chance on buying Georgia Trend in 1991 for less than $200,000 (also agreeing to invest $500,000 and two years to make it pay for itself), and put his considerable publishing experience to the test. It worked well enough that he sold the publication the following year, but the decision gnawed at him until he bought it back in 1994. In January 1999, Grimes sold Georgia Trend again, this time to developer Tom Cousins, from Atlanta, and journalist Neely Young, from Cedartown. Young would later write, “Millard loves this magazine deeply and didn’t want to sell it to a big chain. He wanted to sell the magazine to ethnic Georgians, people who he thought would care for it and run it with the Georgian community in mind.
In 1999, Grimes funded the Millard B. Grimes Laboratory of Excellence in Print Journalism at UGA’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication; he received the school’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and was inducted into the inaugural class of the Grady Scholarship a year later. Grimes remained an active participant in the newspaper industry in the years that followed, founding his last company, the Buford Illustrated Weeklyin 2011 at the age of eighty-one.
Grimes died on May 3, 2022 in Athens, at the age of ninety-two. His papers are held at UGA’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.