George W. Shannon
|George Washington Shannon|
February 20, 1914|
El Dorado, Arkansas, USA
|Died||April 25, 1998
Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Occupation||Newspaper editor and journalist|
|Spouse(s)||Sidney Anita "Nita" Pearce Shannon (1906-1996)|
Shannon was born in El Dorado, the seat of government of Union County, in southern Arkansas. He began his career as a reporter and sports editor at the El Dorado News-Times, one of the Clyde E. Palmer newspapers (since WEHCO Media, Inc.). In 1935, he joined the staff of the Shreveport Times, a morning daily, and became assistant city editor. In 1938, he was hired by the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, then an afternoon daily and Sunday morning publication and the largest newspaper in central Louisiana. The veteran Alexandria editor, Adras LaBorde, came to The Town Talk after Shannon had already left.
Shannon's career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army in World War II. After the war, he joined the staff of the now defunct Shreveport Journal, an afternoon Monday-Saturday daily. Shannon was named Journal editor in July 1953 and retained that position until April 1971. At the time, the paper was owned by the family of the publisher Douglas F. Attaway (1910–1994), and it espoused staunchly conservative editorials.
Shannon urged the South to leave the Democratic Party. He first proposed "free electors" in 1964, but then editorially endorsed Republican presidential nominee Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona in the latter's ill-fated race against U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Journal opposed most policies of the John F. Kennedy and Johnson presidencies. In 1968, the paper endorsed the American Independent Party presidential candidate, then former Governor George Corley Wallace, Jr., of Alabama, who won Louisiana's ten electoral votes by plurality. Wallace came to Shreveport in 1971 to speak at Shannon's "appreciation dinner".
Even in state politics, Shannon broke with the Democrats in the 1964 gubernatorial general election, when the Journal urged support for the conservative Republican candidate Charlton Lyons of Shreveport. Lyons ran strongly in northwest Louisiana but was decisively defeated statewide by the Democrat John McKeithen. Shannon opposed moderate and liberal Republicans, whose presence in the party, he believed, served to discourage Southerners at the time from switching their partisan affiliation. However, in the 1961 special election for the United States House of Representatives, Shannon had penned the editorial endorsing the Democrat Joe D. Waggonner, Jr., who defeated Charlton Lyons to fill the seat vacated by the death of U.S. Representative Overton Brooks. Shannon wrote that "citizens who understand the principles of states rights are not likely to be fooled by the claim that the election of Waggonner could be viewed as a victory for the Kennedy regime."
When the Attaways sold The Journal to Shreveport businessman Charles T. Beaird, an avowed liberal Republican who had once served on the Caddo Parish Police Jury (since the Caddo Parish Commission), the editorial policy, under editor Stanley R. Tiner, a Democrat and later an unsuccessful congressional candidate, switched firmly to the political left.
Shannon's professional and civic involvements included the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the National Conference of Editorial Writers, and the Downtown Rotary International of Shreveport, one of the largest civic clubs in the nation. He was also a past president of the Shreveport chapter of the Reserve Officers Association.
Mrs. Shannon, the former Sidney Anita "Nita" Pearce (1906–1996), preceded her husband in death, having succumbed to complications following an accidental fall at their Shreveport residence. A native of Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish, she graduated from Bunkie High School and attended Alexandria Business College. The Shannons met while they were both living in Alexandria. Services for Mrs. Shannon were held on May 8, 1996, at the First Baptist Church of Shreveport, with the Reverend Dr. Jon Stubblefield officiating.
In 1962, the Shannons sued the Shreveport Transit Company after Mrs. Shannon was injured on a municipal trolley. They collected some $12,000 for pain and medical bills but tried to amend the suit to claim $30,000. At the time of the accident, a student driver was behind the wheel of the trolley.
The Shannons had no children.
Shannon died of a sudden illness. Services were held in the Frost Chapel of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport on April 28, 1998. They are interred at Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport.
Shannon's archival materials are at the Noel Memorial Library of Louisiana State University in Shreveport.
- "Shreveport Journal Endorses Waggonner", reprinted in Minden Herald, December 14, 1961, p. 8
- Shreveport Journal, July 11, 1964, p. 1
George Shannon obituary, Shreveport Times, April 27, 1998
Shannon v. Shreveport Transit Co., 149 So.2d 206 (La. App. 2 Cir., 1963)