Front page of the Montgomery Advertiser,
July 19, 2009
(as The Planter's Gazette)
425 Molton St.|
Montgomery, Alabama, 36104
The newspaper began publication in 1829 as The Planter's Gazette. Its first editor was Moseley Baker. It became the Montgomery Advertiser in 1833. In 1903, R.F. Hudson, a young Alabama newspaperman, joined the staff of the Advertiser and rose through the ranks of the newspaper. Hudson was central to improving the financial situation of the newspaper, and by 1924 he owned 10% of its stock. Hudson purchased the remaining shares of the company in 1935, and five years later he bought The Alabama Journal, a competitor founded in Montgomery in 1889. Ownership of the Advertiser subsequently passed from Hudson's heirs to Carmage Walls (1963), through Multimedia Corp. (1968) to Gannett Company (1995).
Grover C. Hall, Jr. (1915–1971) worked at the paper from age 20 and served 15 years as editor after World War II. He allied with the politician George C. Wallace in 1958. In 1975, the newspaper investigated the shooting of Bernard Whitehurt by police and wrote news stories that questioned the original police reports. To counter claims that newspaper was fabricating stories, publisher Harold E. Martin, took and passed a polygraph.
The Alabama Journal continued as a local afternoon paper until April 16, 1993, when it published its last issue before merging with the morning Advertiser. The Advertiser is the largest of the 22 daily newspapers published in Alabama.
Civil rights and race relations
According to a 2018 review by the Advertiser itself, from 1883 to the early 1900s the paper covered the region's frequent lynchings ambivalently. While it nominally condemned the mob murders of black people, its coverage assumed that the victims were guilty of crimes, such as a 1919 editorial that held that "as long as there are attempts at rape by black men, red men or yellow men on white women there will be lynchings". Consequently, the paper's proposals on how to address lynchings focused on how the accused could more efficiently be legally executed instead. It also tended to be more concerned about how lynchings might be treated by Northern papers than about the crimes themselves. In an editorial published on the occasion of the 2018 opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the editorial board recognized the paper's "own shameful place in the history of these dastardly, murderous deeds", acknowledging that the paper's "careless" coverage of lynchings was "wrong".
The newspaper won the first of its three Pulitzer Prize awards under the direction of Grover C. Hall (1888–1941), who came to the Advertiser in 1910 and served as editor from 1926 until his death. The Advertiser waged war on the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s, and became nationally prominent for its coverage and editorial stance. Hall later argued for release of the black Scottsboro Boys. Nonetheless, by the 1950s, the paper's coverage of the civil rights movement was "indifferent and antagonistic", often criticizing civil rights activists and their goals.
In 2004, Wanda Lloyd became the Advertiser's first black executive editor.
The newspaper has earned numerous state, regional and national awards, including three Pulitzer Prizes:
- 1928: Grover C. Hall, Editorial Writing, for "his editorials against gangsterism, floggings and racial and religious intolerance."
- 1970: Harold E. Martin, Investigative Reporting, for "his expose of a commercial scheme for using Alabama prisoners for drug experimentation and obtaining blood plasma from them."
- 1988: Staff of The Alabama Journal, General News Reporting, for "its compelling investigation of the state's unusually high infant-mortality rate, which prompted legislation to combat the problem."
- "History of the Montgomery Advertiser" Archived 2012-08-25 at the Wayback Machine.. Montgomery Advertiser: a Gannett Company. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Hall, Grover Cleveland, Jr., 1915-1971". Alabama Authors. UA Libraries. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- The Alabama Journal, April 16, 1993, p. 1.
- Eligon, John (29 April 2018). "A Lynching Memorial Forces a Reckoning for a Nation, and a Newspaper". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- Lyman, Bryan (20 April 2018). "'There will be lynchings': How the Advertiser failed victims of racial terror". The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- Montgomery Advertiser editorial board (26 April 2018). "Our shame: The sins of our past laid bare for all to see". The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- "Editorial Writing". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- Daniel Webster Hollis III (May 1984). "An Alabama Newspaper Tradition: Grover C. Hall and the Hall Family." The Journal of Southern History 50:2 (May 1984) pp. 332–34. doi:10.2307/2209494. Reviewed by Charles W. Eagles, University of Mississippi, pp. 332–34 at jstor.org. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
- "Local Investigative Specialized Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "General News Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-07.