An online food fight has developed over Bill Minor's legacy. The noted journalist and columnist died earlier this week at the age of 94. Accolades were thrown his way as many honored him. The Clarion-Ledger's Jerry Mitchell called him a "model of journalism" and remembered his life:
Known as “the conscience of Mississippi,” the 94-year-old Minor wound up outliving nearly all of his contemporaries as well as a number of the journalists he mentored. He died at 1:46 a.m. Tuesday.However, former political operative and journalist Wayne Weidie took issue with Mr. Mitchell's memorium of Bill Minor on the pages of his blog:
The son of a newspaper linotype operator in Louisiana and a lifelong Democrat, Minor viewed himself as a champion for the little guy.
Minor fought for much of his life, serving as a gunnery officer on the USS Stephen Potter in World War II. "The Japanese never hit us with bombs or torpedoes, but they came mighty close," Minor recalled in a 2003 interview with The Clarion-Ledger. "There were kamikazes toward the end, which were almost impossible to stop."....
Minor began working out of an office in the state Capitol along with other reporters. Unlike some of those reporters, he wasn’t content to rewrite press releases that came from politicians.
Instead, he did his own reporting, exposing the dark deeds he witnessed to the light, which hardly made him popular beneath the Capitol dome. Some of the politicians he wrote about, including state Sen. Bill Burgin, went to prison.
Minor worked as a stringer for The New York Times and Newsweek, working closely with some of the nation’s top reporters, such as Claude Sitton (who later remarked that Minor had done more for civil rights than any Southern newspaperman).
The Times-Picayune correspondent covered the 1955 trial of Emmett Till's killers. An all-white jury acquitted the two white men, who confessed months later to Look magazine that they had beaten and killed Till.
Many of the national reporters who came to report on what was happening in Mississippi made sure they talked first to Minor.
In the years that followed, he covered the burgeoning civil rights movement and came to know its top leaders, including Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers, who was assassinated outside his Jackson home on June 12, 1963....
Minor became a mentor for many young reporters, including Pulitzer Prize winners Klibanoff, David Halberstam and Jack Nelson.
Halberstam, whose first journalism job was in West Point, told The Clarion-Ledger before his 2007 death, "People who are saying there aren't any heroes anymore just aren't looking in the right places. (Bill Minor is) an example of real conscience and integrity.”
Before his 2009 death from cancer, Nelson said of Minor: “I’ve never known a more courageous journalist.”... Rest of article.
I was sad to hear of his death, and there is no question Minor made many contributions to Mississippi during his long career. After someone texted me Tuesday morning about Minor’s death, I went to the Clarion-Ledger online edition where I saw the headline on reporter Jerry Mitchell’s story. The headline was, “Bill Minor remembered as a model for journalists.” From my perspective, I would never consider Minor as a “model for journalists.”....
Thirty or forty years ago, it was the norm for candidates for major office the state to close their campaign with an hour or 30 minutes TV special. William Winter was a candidate for governor at the time and his election eve special was a bogus, staged press conference. Minor was a participant and helped orchestrate the paid campaign ad for William Winter. Again, not very objective journalism or good journalism.
Eventually I moved on to Washington, D. C. Shortly after I moved, Minor was honored with a prestigious national award. Along with then Congressman Gene Taylor and Taylor’s press secretary, I attended the award luncheon. The attendees was like a Who’s Who of prominent political and journalism figures. Speaker after speaker, including a member of the Kennedy family, spoke in praise of Minor and his contributions to Mississippi. Almost every speaker noted the role Minor had played and how much Mississippi had changed from its terrible days of segregation and racial violence. When it came time for Minor to speak, the first words out of his mouth was that the state had not really changed.
At a later date, Minor wrote a nasty column about Jamie Whitten, the powerful and long serving chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Working in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time, I knew Minor’s column about the very respected Whitten was not close to being factually correct. At an inaugural ball when Bill Clinton was elected president, I ran into Minor when my daughter and I entered the event. My timing was not good, but I promptly told him his nasty column about Whitten was uncalled for and was not even close to the facts. Minor did make major contributions in his reporting of political corruption in the state. However, he never mentioned the corruption of his wealthy, trial lawyer son, Paul Minor. Paul Minor was convicted and served time in federal prison for bribery.
The stories about Minor’s death also mentioned his tenure as editor of the weekly Capital Reporter in Jackson. What most people do not know is that a newspaper publisher in the state loaned Minor a significant sum of money to start the newspaper. Minor never made any effort to repay the loan. When I returned to Mississippi after more than 18 years in Washington, Minor was still frequently spewing hate in his column....Rest of post.
fter the newspaper’s headline calling Minor a “model for journalism”, the print edition of the Clarion-Ledger had a big front page headline calling Minor “The Conscience of Mississippi.” No, I regret that Minor passed and appreciate the many contributions he made to our state, but he was neither a “model for journalism” nor the “conscience of Mississippi.” R. I. P.
Kingfish note: Two diametrically opposed opinions . Bill Minor had one thing lacking in many reporters today- guts. The men who now call themselves reporters are all too often pretty boys who look more comfortable getting a manicure then getting their hands dirty literally digging up a story. He could be a bastard but that's what it took sometimes to cover the stories he reported. Combat is a forge of sorts. Mr. Minor saw death on a regular basis in the Pacific. The horrors of war served him well when he had to face the horrors of home when he covered the civil rights struggles. There was some damn good reporting in the Capitol Reporter. JJ will probably reprint some of the Ed Peters stories. However, somewhere along the way, Mr. Minor became a very bitter person. His columns became attacks. Crucial facts were omitted and woe to any writer who dared criticize his column. His responses were written with acid as age focused the bitterness more and more.
He stood for something and didn't back down. That should probably be his legacy.