The Atlanta Daily World is the city’s oldest continuously-publishing black-owned newspaper. It is the nation’s first successful black daily newspaper.
In its 84-year history, the Atlanta Daily World newspaper has reported on the vast and growing African-American population in metropolitan Atlanta and beyond. Through generations, its founders and leadership have a rich history of community service and responsibility.
The Atlanta World, as it was first known, was founded by W.A. Scott, II, on August 5, 1928. The newspaper began as a weekly, then became a semi-weekly in May 1930 and a tri-weekly in April 1931. On March 12, 1932, the Atlanta World became a daily newspaper and later added the word “daily” to its name. By lasting for decades as a daily newspaper, it became the first successful black daily newspaper in the country, as any previous attempts by others at running a black daily failed within the first few years.
In the 1930s, Scott also began circulating The Chattanooga Tribune, The Memphis World, and The Birmingham World. The Atlanta Daily World had its own printing press. This allowed the World to print a chain of Black newspapers from across the country. The newspapers printed by the World were considered part of the Scott Newspaper Syndicate. Eventually, the Scott Newspaper Syndicate was responsible for printing as many as 50 African-American newspapers nationwide, making it the first and largest Black newspaper chain.
In March 2012, the Atlanta Daily World entered into a new chapter of its history by becoming part of the Real Times Media family. It now publishes once a week on Thursdays, and it can be read daily online at www.atlantadailyworld.com, where viewers also can see breaking video news. In becoming part of Real Times Media, the ADW joins five other historic African-American newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, the Michigan Chronicle, the Michigan FrontPage, the New Pittsburgh Courier, and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tenn.
Since affiliating with the Real Times Media family of communications companies, the ADW is building its capacity to enhance its publication and digital platform, as well as begin a new series of special events and editions that will bring readers and advertisers together in new ways.
In addition to changing the format from a broadsheet to a tabular design, ADW will aggressively engage Atlanta’s influencers and community leaders through signature events such as a Women of Excellence, Men of Excellence, Pastor’s Salute, and Pancakes & Politics. The innovative Pancakes & Politics is an issues forum series that engages attendees on hot topics facing the community.
The changes are anchored by the development of a robust digital engagement platform, including a redesigned website, supported by a social media outreach program to promote more interactivity. ADW hopes to leverage the exciting changes in digital and social media and the explosive growth of the Atlanta community to shape its next 84 years. Now, more than a newspaper, ADW is excited about bringing this multi-dimensional approach to Atlanta in unprecedented ways to increase its connection to the community and establish a strong foothold for the next generation of readers and internet users.
Another recent milestone occurred in 2009 when the Atlanta Daily World partnered with the joint venture of Atlanta Retail Management and Areas, a Spanish airport concessions group, to open three “Atlanta Daily World” newsstands at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. This established the newspaper as the first and only black-owned media outlet to have its name on any airport newsstand in the United States. The newsstands are located on airport concourses B, C, and D. The newsstands offer reading materials, Atlanta-branded gifts and souvenirs, health and beauty aids, candy, snack foods and bottled beverages.
The Early Years
Following the untimely death of founder W.A. Scott, II in 1934, C. A. Scott — one of his brothers — became editor and general manager.
The youngest son of nine children, C.A. Scott was born in Edwards, Miss., on Feb. 8, 1908. His father, the Rev. Dr. William A. Scott Sr., was a Christian Church minister and a printer. His mother, Emmeline Southall Scott, was an active worker in the church and in the printing business, helping her husband print church bulletins that were distributed throughout Mississippi.
C.A. Scott came to Atlanta in 1925 with two of his older brothers – W.A. and Aurelius — to attend Morehouse College. C.A. Scott continued in his role as editor, general manager and publisher of the Atlanta Daily World for an unprecedented 63 years, during which he adopted a more conservative political stance around 1952. C.A. Scott was named publisher emeritus in 1997.
In August 1997, M. Alexis Scott — granddaughter of the founder — was named publisher after a 22-year career with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its parent company Cox Enterprises, Inc. Well known in the city, Alexis Scott is a featured commentator on “The Georgia Gang” on Atlanta’s FOX 5 television station, where she displays a liberal and progressive political voice.
The Atlanta Daily World has been in the forefront of many campaigns to improve the Atlanta community and even the nation. In the 1940s, the newspaper was the first black publication to receive credentials to cover the White House and the U.S. Congress. Being a daily publication was a requirement for credentials and was a way that black newspapers were excluded from the press galleries to cover these institutions. Utilizing the fact that the World was a daily newspaper, the World — in conjunction with the National Newspaper Publishers Association — hired Harry McAlpin in 1944 to cover the White House and Louis Lautier in 1947 to cover the U.S. Congress. The correspondents’ news stories were then featured in black newspapers across the nation.
The Atlanta Daily World was one of the first papers to encourage African Americans to patronize black-owned businesses, and it focused on the needs of the community by reporting on church, social, and sporting news. The paper was used to raise funds for nine African-American youths falsely accused of raping White girls in the infamous 1930s Scottsboro Boys trials. In addition to its coverage, the paper led voter registration efforts, challenged the all-white Democratic Party primaries in the 1940s, and raised funds to defend and acquit a young black father falsely accused of rape.
In 1946, two African-American couples were murdered in broad daylight near Monroe, Ga., by a mob that tied them up and shot them hundreds of times with rifles, shotguns, pistols and a machine gun. Responding to the horror of the “Monroe Massacre,” C.A. Scott immediately set up a fund through the Atlanta Daily World to raise money for the victims’ families. The newspaper’s leaders also helped shelter a potential witness in the case, but to this day, no one has been punished for the crime.
At a time when the unfair treatment of blacks by police was rampant, the Atlanta Daily World helped crusade for the Atlanta Police Department to hire blacks as officers. On April 3, 1948, eight men – including a former World employee — became Atlanta’s first African-American policemen. They were stationed in the basement of the Butler Street YMCA near Auburn Avenue, rather than at a regular police station, and they were not allowed to arrest white citizens initially — conditions the World argued against and that later changed.
The Atlanta Daily World also waged a campaign in the 1940s to increase the pay of Black teachers, who were paid about half as much as White teachers. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Atlanta Daily World filled its pages with information about court cases and lawsuits filed to desegregate public facilities.
In November of 1974, the Atlanta Daily World, along with a group of civic-minded people, helped organize the West End Consumers Group to establish closer cooperation between businesses, employees and the general public. The consumer group helped encourage blacks to start their own businesses and to make them last. On August 8, 1977, this group was officially incorporated as the Atlanta Consumers Club, Inc., and it continued to be active through the 1980s.
The World served for nearly 40 years (1968-2007) as the media sponsor with the Georgia Association of Educators of the statewide contest in the popular national Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee. The paper sponsored an essay contest with Camp Best Friends from 2000 to 2007 that provided cash and computers to youth; and from 2000 to 2007 it conducted Bike Atlanta, a bike ride to benefit charitable organizations in the city. The newspaper also raised thousands of dollars over 60 years for its former program called the Christmas Cheer Fund for needy families.
An Award-Winning Publication and Business
The newspaper and its publishers have received numerous business and community service awards. In 2011, Alexis Scott and The Scott Family were inducted into the inaugural class of the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame. In 2008, the Atlanta Daily World was inducted into the newly-established Business Hall of Fame by the Atlanta Business League. In 2004, the paper received The President’s Award from the Atlanta Branch of the NAACP; in 2003 the newspaper and The Scott Family received the Media Award from The Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta at its 20th anniversary celebration. In 2003, The Atlanta Daily World celebrated its 75th anniversary with a travelling exhibit and teacher’s guide outlining the importance of the Black Press in fighting for equal rights for Blacks. The exhibit continues to travel throughout the metro Atlanta area with a teacher’s guide.
The paper received the 2002 Atlanta Regional Minority Media Firm of the Year Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, and the 2002 National Minority Media Cornerstone Award from the same agency. The World also received the 2002 Media of the Year Award from the Georgia Conference of NAACP. In 2001, the paper received the Media of the Year Award from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.
In 2001, the paper was a finalist in the Family Business of the Year Awards Program of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University. The paper was recognized in the small-business category for nearly tripling its revenues in the prior three years.
In 1980, the National Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, named the paper a “historic site in journalism” for its development and distribution of a chain of more than 40 weekly newspapers during the 1930s. For this and other pioneering efforts, the newspaper’s founder has been inducted into two journalism Halls of Fame — at Howard University in 1980 and at the University of Georgia in 1996.
Then-publisher C.A. Scott was inducted into the African-American Newspaper Journalism Hall of Fame in 1990 and received the Pioneer Black Journalist Award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists in 1991. He was named publisher emeritus in 1997. He died May 7, 2000, at age 92.
M. Alexis Scott Is Third Generation Publisher
The current publisher, Alexis Scott, helped bring the newspaper into a new era when she joined the business in 1997. Under her guidance, the newspaper set up a new network of computers, installed newspaper design software, installed Internet access for the computer network, installed a new phone system with voice mail, converted to electronic publishing from hard copy paste-up, implemented the first new redesign of the paper’s logo in 50 years, and introduced color to the front page.
Alexis Scott is also active in nonprofit organizations, such as South View Cemetery Preservation Board, Kenny Leon‘s True Colors theater company, the Atlanta History Center, the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Central Atlanta Progress. In 2003, she was appointed by Mayor Shirley Franklin to the board of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. Alexis Scott has received many awards and honors, including the 2011 Trailblazer Award from the Atlanta Hawks; 2010 Journalist of the Year Award from the Atlanta Regional Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the 2010 Generational Torch Award from the Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce; 2009 Community Leader Award from the Alliance for Christian Media and an honorary doctor of humane letters from Argosy University. She is a past-president of the Atlanta Press Club. To help preserve the history of the newspaper, she also worked with Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters to do a documentary on the newspaper, which won several television awards.
Until a 2008 tornado took the roof off the Atlanta Daily World’s building the newspaper was located on Auburn Avenue, which was once described in Forbes magazine as the “richest negro street” in America for being the location of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Citizens Trust Bank, and at the time, the Yates and Milton Drug Store, as well as other small black-owned clothing stores, tailor shops, markets, bakeries, doctors’ offices, photography studios, dance halls, and churches. Now the newspaper is temporarily located at the Airport Office Park, located at 3485 N. Desert Drive, Suite 2109, Atlanta, GA 30344-8125. Despite the tragic destruction to the building, the newspaper did not miss a single week of publication.
The paper currently has memberships in several trade associations, including the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Associated Press. It also is a member of several business organizations including the Atlanta Business League, Central Atlanta Progress and the Metro Atlanta Chamber.