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Jesup, Georgia 31545

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The hardest ship to keep afloat is a partnership. In 1981, my partnership was glancing off rocks and taking on water. My partner and I were oceans apart on which way to turn the rudder. I could see my career was about to run aground. A one-man mutiny was brewing. But then a friend sat down beside me on an ocean-side bench during a Georgia Press Association convention. As the sun settled behind Jekyll Island and the Atlantic surf scurried toward us on the gray sand, Jim started talking. I had enough sense to listen. He had two friendsTom and mein similar situations. Both of us were ready to jump ship. As editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jim knew his publisher, Tom, was antsy and contemplating abandoning his big-city, corporate life. Jim sensed that I was antsy, too, and unhappy in my current partnership. He had a solution: Tom and I should connect. Later that summer, sitting in my Walnut Street office in Jesup, Tom and I compared notes. We had known each other by serving on the boards of the Georgia Press Association and the University of Georgias College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The further we waded into the what-if-we-did-

Salt air stimulates ideas and 30th year celebration

this-or-that possibilities, the better it seemed Jim could see the future through his spyglass. He knew that his friends could DINK sail a ship, as NeSMITH co-captains. Chairman Tom was 42. I was 33. He was a CPA who was steering the Souths flagship newspaper. I was a small-town publisher who also grabbed a broom when the floor needed sweeping. I knew that I would benefit from Toms accounting background and business acumen, but I couldnt understand his urge to jump overboard into rural America. Tom, I said, you have the best job in the business. No, he countered, you do. I am just a hired gun. Thats the only disagreement we could chart. Our one-on-one visit revealed our personal, professional and ethical compasses were pointing in the same direction. After 60 minutes, we stood and shook hands. We agreed that Tom would have a company. I would have a company. And wed

My Opinion

have one together. In 1982, we formed our first partnership. Others followed as we gained strength from each others complementing disciplines. If you asked us to paint our ship, I would pick up a roller or a sprayer. Tom would do the precision work: the windows and trim. Did I say the hardest ship to keep afloat is a partnership? Well, thats truemost of the time. In the past 30 years, Tom and I have weathered all kinds of water. Sometimes the wind and swells have been daunting, but the ballast that has and will keep our ship upright and sailing is trustabsolute trust. We have never bickeredno, not onceabout which way to sail. Who could have imagined that? Our mutual friend, Jim, could. I thought that was cause to celebrate. Since salt air and surf stimulated the original partnership idea, I suggested, Why not return to a beach? Watching the yellow-rimmed, white-hot sun settle into a blaze-orange backdrop of the Pacific waters off Costa Rica, Tom Wood and I turned to our amigo and said, Gracias, Seor Jim Minter!

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