Best Of Grizzard - Writing A Newspaper Column

  • Friday, November 25, 2022
  • Jerry Summers

Lewis Grizzard (LG) in one of his best sellers covering the turbulent life of his father Lewis Grizzard Jr. dedicated it to the individual that he gave the most credit to for influencing his career as initially a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jim Minter.


In “My Daddy Was a Pistol and I’m a Son of a Gun”, (1986- Villard Books) the simple dedication states, “To Jim Minter, a great American whom I love.”


Minter was the editor of the Atlanta papers and allegedly hired L.G.

four times as of the date of the publication of said book.


He credited Minter with teaching him how to write a newspaper column.


With the advent of cable television on the world wide web, around the clock news and sports reporting, decline of the influence of newspapers, and attack reporters instead of just journalists it is doubtful that the advice he gave young Lewis is still applicable in the reporting of events in today's news world.


However, the following are the rules that Minter established with L.G. during his short 47 year life spin:

1.) “Write short,” he said. “Too many columnist write too damn long”;

2.) “Don’t write curse words in the newspaper”;

3.) “If you think you have a funny line, then don’t try to explain it in the next sentence. If it is funny enough, it won’t need explaining”;

4.) “Don’t lose a good source over one quote”;

5.) “Every column ought to have at least one human beings name in it and at least one set of quotation marks”;

6.) “Don’t be out of the newspaper for long stretches of time. People will forget about you”; and

7.) “Don’t forget where you came from.”


It may be doubtful that these rules could be applicable in today’s left or right leaning criticism, and one sided reporting that attempts to entertain and convince the vast majority of Americans to a particular political viewpoint. It also does not prevent the division of relationships between all races for the benefit of the country.


(This “less is the best mentality” served L.G. well in his career but may not work very well in today’s competitive 24 hour constant news, weather, and sports reporting by television and cable spokespersons. Whether L.G. could survive the contest is lost to time because of his early death at age 47?)


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You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)
Jerry Summers
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