Date of Award

5-1-1984

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name

M.A.

History

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret N. Rowley

Abstract

This study is an examination of the editorial pages of the Atlanta Constitution and the Atlanta Daily World for the purpose of comparing their treatment of the Atlanta sit-ins. Many studies have been made of the Atlanta Sit-in Movement but none of these has compared the treatment of the sit-ins as it appeared on editorial pages of Atlanta newspapers. The comparison of the Constitution and the World was of particular interest since both had and still have completely different audiences. The Constitution, white-owned and operated, had a largely white audience although it also had a wide black readership. The World, black-owned and operated, had a mainly black audience. An examination of editorial materials on the Atlanta lunch counter protests uncovered a wide variety of editorial materials, from the unsigned editorial to the cartoon. Both local and national writers expressed their views on the protests and the opinions varied widely. The editorial pages of both newspapers were examined from January 1, 1960 through March 31, 1961. Monday through Saturday editorial pages of the Constitution were viewed, but no Sunday Atlanta Journal and Constitution editorial pages were used for comparison since the Sunday editions contained columns by persons other than those who wrote regularly in the Constitution. The World, while called a daily, was published every day except Monday. Editorial pages of the World for August 20, September 8 and 27, October 15, 16, 26, 28, November 16 and December 20, 1960 and January 15 and February 21, 1961 were missing from microfilm reels of the newspaper examined at Georgia State University and the Atlanta Public Library. A check of the newspaper office resulted in the discovery of only two of these editorial pages, those for October 26 and 28, 1960.

Two major aspects of editorial coverage were considered. First, the editorial policy of each newspaper, as reflected in its unsigned editorials on the sit-ins was examined. The unsigned editorials were expressions of the newspaper's official position on various matters. Second, other (than unsigned editorials) types of material were examined to see if views different from the newspaper's were allowed expression.

Several questions were considered by the writer in this study. The first, did both newspapers give similar editorial commentary on major sit-in events? Next, did the black news organ provide its readers with supplemental information not found in the white news organ? Third, did the white newspaper describe the lunch counter protesters, many of whom were black, in a more negative manner than did the black newspaper?

These questions were kept in mind during the research period. The writer was aware, however, that great care had to be taken in arriving at conclusions in such matters as how a newspaper viewed blacks.

The primary sources for this comparison were the two newspapers, available at the Atlanta Public Library and Georgia State University Library and two interviews, one of a man closely connected with the sit-ins and one of an editorial writer. Many secondary works dealing with the lunch counter protests and newspapers were also consulted.

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