Eugene Patterson

EugenePattersonDeathJanuary2013I knew him as Gene Patterson when he worked in the shadow of Ralph McGill at the Atlanta Journal-Constituion from 1960 thru 1968. Gene died this week while living in Florida. He was 89. Ralph McGill was one of my early heroes among the print journalists. In this young reporters mind, Patterson was OK, but he was not Pulitzer-winning, civil-rights pioneer Ralph McGill. Patterson wrote many columns championing the cause of civil rights for all and won his own Pulitizer while with the AJC. He gave full credit to Ralph McGill for being his mentor. In a disagreement with the AJC publisher Jack Tarver, Patterson left the Atlanta newspaper to become managing editor of the Washington Post, and later editor with the St. Petersburg Times. Of all the accolades that have been written about Patterson following his death, this is the one that grabbed my attention: As editor of the St. Petersburg paper, Patterson had begun a policy of having DUI arrests printed on the front page. When police arrested him for DUI, Patterson ordered that he be treated no differently. Details of Patterson’s case appeared on the front page along with the rest of those accused of driving under the influence. Ralph McGill would be proud.

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