Originally created 05/01/01

After 35 years, 'Athens Daily News' makes final run

ATHENS, Ga. - "Twenty years ago, a group of individuals decided to do something in (Athens) that didn't make a lot of sense. They decided to start a daily newspaper. A lot of people laughed at the idea. The smart money knew you didn't go around starting newspapers. Too big of a risk. ... Yeah, they laughed, but ... investors went ahead and started their newspaper anyway, and they called it the Athens Daily News, and one bright morning in 1965 it hit the streets." - Lewis Grizzard, April 19, 1985

When the redesigned version of the Athens Banner-Herald rolls off the press today, it will mark the end of the Athens Daily News, a newspaper that beat the odds for 35 years.

Athens is one of the last cities of its size to support a morning and afternoon paper.

The building blocks of the Athens Daily News were put in place in the early 1960s, when Claude Williams, an Athens resident with a background in radio and advertising, was hired to put out a weekly shopper to promote stores at the new Beechwood Shopping Center on Alps Road.

Mr. Williams' friends began requesting space in the shopper to contribute personal feature stories and editorial columns. As the number of features grew, The Athens Advertiser turned into a popular weekly that continued to expand in size and coverage.

Mr. Williams began exploring the possibility of converting The Advertiser into a daily morning paper that would compete head-on with the Banner-Herald, a well-established afternoon daily in Athens.

Though most daily newspapers were still delivered in the afternoon in the 1960s, Mr. Williams said morning newspapers were becoming a growing trend.

Mr. Williams was in charge of the advertising and business side of the newspaper, and Glenn Vaughn, then managing editor of The Columbus Ledger, stepped in as editor and publisher.

The first edition of the Daily News rolled off the press about 1 p.m. June 17, 1965 - about 10 hours late.

Despite its rough start, the Daily News soon developed a strong following in Athens.

In 1967, brothers Billy and Charles Morris - who owned the Banner-Herald - purchased The Daily News.

Though the same company owned both papers, the reporting staffs remained separate and fiercely competitive throughout the 1970s.

For the past two decades, the Banner-Herald and Daily News have used the same staff.

Today, the staff that has worked for both papers will continue to work full-time for the Banner-Herald.

In its 35 years, the Athens Daily News has seen many changes.

But its founders say they will hold fond memories of its early days and take pride in the fact the newspaper served its community for more than three decades.

Information from Millard Grimes' book, The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and its Newspapers since World War II, was used in this report.


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